By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
Allsworth's friendship with the Kramer family dates back 30 years. According to court documents, Allsworth, who is now 72 years old, represented Ben Kramer in a federal drug-smuggling case in the mid-'70s. Kramer was sentenced to prison, but Allsworth remained close to the drug smuggler's father, Jack Kramer. By the fall of 1983, Ben Kramer was out of prison and back to smuggling marijuana in bulk, often aboard barges. At the same time, Allsworth began scheming with Jack Kramer, who was also convicted, on ways to hide the illegal profits. Allsworth provided a caveat to his criminal premeditation: He said in court that he thought the money came from Ben Kramer's drug-smuggling ventures back in the '70s, not from fresh drug deals. In effect he told Judge Moreno that he thought it was old drug money rather than new.
The money-laundering scheme was grand and complicated, involving a myriad of companies, banks, and overseas transactions. Allsworth and the Kramers worked in conjunction with a major businessman from Los Angeles -- the late Sam Gilbert, a high-profile developer. Through companies controlled by Gilbert and other California investors -- including politicians and bankers -- drug money was funneled from South Florida to California. One of the main California companies used in the conspiracy was a legal gambling house called the Bicycle Club. The Bicycle Club became famous in California for its success, as investors became millionaires almost literally overnight. What was hidden from public view was the fact that it was financed with an estimated $15 million of Kramer's drug money. Allsworth and other attorneys drew up and exchanged false financial documents to make various "loans" and other transactions appear legal, but it was all a sham meant to deceive the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, Allsworth admitted in federal court.
The money was also filtered through various banks in Lichtenstein and the Netherlands and through South Florida companies for which Allsworth served as the registered agent. Allsworth, a partner in the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Doumar, Curtis, Cross, Laystrom & Perloff, went so far as to funnel $1.1 million in drug money directly through his own attorney trust account, money which was later used to finance Fort Apache Marina, which Jack Kramer owned at the time. The marina, in Aventura, was at the heart of the dispute between Kramer and Aronow that led Kramer to have Aronow gunned down in 1987. He was sentenced for the murder two years ago.
Allsworth helped the Kramers launder drug money for about four years, until the operation was finally dismantled by federal agents with a stream of indictments and convictions. Ben Kramer was convicted of drug-smuggling in 1988. By December 1990 Allsworth was told by prosecutors that he was a potential target in the money-laundering investigation. In March 1991 Allsworth pleaded guilty to two felonies that could have sent him to prison for ten years. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Bondi recommended Allsworth be given five years in prison and a $250,000 fine in exchange for his cooperation and guilty plea. Bondi also claimed that Allsworth agreed to resign from the practice of law for the rest of his life. Allsworth denies ever agreeing to that.
Jenne wasn't the only potentate to show up and ask the judge to show leniency. Huizenga, who had employed Allsworth at Waste Management for many years, stopped by and called Allsworth a "pillar of the community." Several bigwigs in the legal world also showed up to give their support, including the highly esteemed Chesterfield Smith (who founded Florida's biggest law firm, Holland & Knight, and was the outspoken president of the American Bar Association during Watergate). Four judges either showed up or wrote letters on Allsworth's behalf, as well. All four were later reprimanded for violating the integrity of their offices. Despite the fact that he was a state senator, Jenne escaped public scrutiny. He was glowing in his praise, highlighting his dealings with Allsworth in the senate and Allsworth's charity work with the Association of Retarded Citizens.
"Emerson [Allsworth] came to me and came to other legislators almost on bended knees," Jenne said. The Association of Retarded Citizens "needed a facility... and the State of Florida had certain monies that were made available if the legislature chose to do so. Emerson spent hours upon hours with the Broward delegation and within the legislature to assure that those funds went there. He was also a strong supporter of the University of Miami."
During his brief statement, Jenne used these words in describing Allsworth: honesty, integrity, diligent (twice), honorable (three times), and professional.
"I just hope the court would recognize his contribution to our community," Jenne said, adding that he didn't "support" Allsworth's crimes or consider them "proper."
Jenne may have given himself something of an out when he said he didn't know the details. But when Allsworth spoke on his own behalf, the convicted man apparently contradicted that assertion. Referring to his many character witnesses, Allsworth told Moreno:
"Many of them did know [the facts of the case] because when you ask somebody to come to court, especially attorneys as many of them were, to testify as a character witness, I think you owe them an explanation. Certainly you wouldn't want them to be surprised in court by something that came out that they thought that you didn't tell them. So, in the majority of cases, I had given a sort of debriefing to those people. And they have always continued to associate with me."