Trials & Litigation

Racketeering suit says law firm aided sunken-treasure fraud, seeks $10M in damages

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An investor group has filed a federal racketeering suit against a well-known Delaware law firm and one of its partners, contending that they aided and abetted a sunken treasure fraud concerning emeralds a client claimed to have discovered undersea off the Florida coast.

The alleged participation of Bruce Silverstein and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor “was critical to the racketeering scheme,” says plaintiff AZALP LLC in the Southern District of Florida suit. It seeks $10 million in damages, claiming that the defendants engaged in a pattern of racketeering including false and deceptive statements about a fake treasure map and the emeralds, reports the News Journal.

The suit also alleges that false documents were filed in Florida and Delaware courts and claims the defendants threatened potential witnesses.

“The goal of the enterprise was to extract money from investors and lenders, conceal and perpetuate the fraud, [and] retain the funds fraudulently obtained,” the suit says. Additionally, the enterprise sought to pump up the seeming value of the emeralds to investors through false filings, the plaintiff contends, and “thwart and intimidate” those who doubted the sunken-treasure story from asking questions by imposing “enormous litigation and investigation costs.”

The defendants and their lawyer did not respond to requests for comment from the News Journal.

Young Conaway represented JTR Enterprises LLC, a Delaware-based company established by treasure hunter Jay Miscovich, who committed suicide a year ago, an earlier News Journal article explains.

An affidavit filed by Silverstein said the law firm was to get a percentage of the value of the emeralds and anything else that was discovered by Miscovich.

Related coverage: “Prominent law firm says it knew nothing of claimed sunken treasure fraud, wasn’t counsel of record”

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