Prominent law firm says it knew nothing of claimed sunken treasure fraud, wasn't counsel of record
A partner at a well-known Delaware law firm says in a court filing that he and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor knew nothing about an alleged fraud on a federal court in Florida concerning a client’s claimed sunken undersea treasure find.
Responding to the court’s show-cause order, Bruce Silverstein says he and Young Conaway acted in good faith while representing Jay Miscovich and his Delaware company, JTR Enterprises, in matters linked to the emeralds the novice diver said he had found undersea some 40 miles from Key West, reports the News Journal.
The filing cites the lawyer’s unblemished 27-year practice in Delaware and says Silverstein is “deeply offended” by suggestions that he deep-sixed test results that showed the jewels were modern.
Not until January, when a local jewelry store owner testified in a Florida court hearing that 80 pounds of rough Colombian emeralds had been purchased from him for $80,000, did Silverstein and the law firm realize that Miscovich’s claim to have found pirate loot might have been falsified, according to the partner’s affidavit.
However, another party in JTR’s federal admiralty case to obtain rights to further explore the site where the emeralds were allegedly found persuaded the judge to issue a show-cause order.
The party, salvage company Motivation Inc., initially was concerned that Miscovich might be claiming rights in sunken treasure that belonged to Motivation. Now the company is seeking attorney fees and costs, contending that Silverstein and his firm unnecessarily prolonged the admiralty litigation.
Silverstein says he and his firm are also victims of Miscovich, who committed suicide last year, and may have suffered financially more than anyone else.
The attorney and his firm are also challenging the show-cause order on jurisdictional grounds, because they are not counsel of record in the admiralty case.
An earlier News Journal article provides additional details.
ABAJournal.com: “Fallout from claimed sunken treasure discovery dogs law firm”