Sludge and Slime

Violence, Internet porn, cocaine, ten-foot-high piles of muck. Just another day in America's Venice.

Elkind claimed that the stool broke and Ruben fell. Ruben contended that Elkind hit him with the stool. During pretrial discovery, attorneys for Ruben played a threatening answering-machine message Elkind had left for another business associate: "You can ask [Ruben] what happened to him last night. Please, we don't want the same thing to happen to you."

This past April 24, after a two-day trial, a jury found that Elkind had battered Ruben but in self-defense. In the end, Elkind was ordered only to pay Ruben's attorney $500, and no criminal charges were filed. Despite the court documents, Elkind insisted to New Times that this case was dismissed and never went to trial.

But Elkind's most prominent court appearance by far came in a landmark lawsuit filed in January 2001. America Online claimed that Netvision had violated anti-spam and member-service agreements by sending unsolicited e-mails advertising porn sites to AOL subscribers. AOL also asserted that commissions were paid to webmasters, many of whom were younger than 18, to send the e-mails. The case was covered by newspapers including the Los Angeles Timesand Newsday, and was later settled for an undisclosed sum.

Elkind insists that he still doesn't know the settlement cost. But a Broward County civil court file contains a message he posted on Oprano.com, a trade website for the adult entertainment industry, that provides a hint. Apparently directed at Netvision attorney Steve Workman, it reads: "Why would I settle for $7.5 million when they were suing us for $10 million? Steve, did you get kickbacks from any other of the $1.5 million I spent on attorneys for the good of this industry?" (Said Workman: "I deny that in the most vehement terms.")

Indeed, a dispute between Workman and Elkind described in court records makes for even more interesting reading. In January 2002, the attorney started a consulting company called Net Management Services, which employed Elkind and Bennett as co-managers. At the company launch party, Elkind punched Workman. The cause of the dispute is not stated in court records, but the attorney soon fired Elkind, who a few days later sent an e-mail to all of Net Management Services' employees. It read in part, "Ruff week, my boat sunk... JB? My Ferrari blew an engine, my partner is triend [sic] to fuck me..."

During the past year, relations among Elkind, Bennett, and Workman have only worsened. Elkind claims that Bennett and Workman took his name off Netvision's bank accounts and moved company money into offshore accounts. "I plan to let the court system take care of them," Elkind says.

Still, on January 15, 2002, Bennett told Fort Lauderdale police that Elkind had thrown a grill and patio furniture into the pool at Bennett's $3 million waterfront home. On August 16, Bennett told police that Elkind had smashed a beer bottle on the front of his white Land Rover, doing about $2,000 in damage. Then on September 27, Bennett reported that a large rock had been thrown through the front window of his home and that he believed Elkind was responsible.

The conflict came to a head on October 2, when Bennett was hosting a booth at a trade convention in Broward County. Bennett says Elkind stood by the booth all day making harassing and threatening statements. Finally, according to both men's accounts, the dispute became violent. In court documents, Bennett claims that Elkind strangled him on the floor. But no one was arrested. Later, each man sued the other for assault and battery. These lawsuits are pending.

Elkind, who declined to comment on the incidents and cases listed in this story, says he plans to spend his time building his new enterprise, Internet Cyber Entertainment, which has nothing to do with exposing minors to porn. "This company does no spamming, has no illegal [content], and no underage webmasters," Elkind says. "I have a 5-year-old daughter."

As for the slime-covered property in Coral Ridge, Elkind points out that he sold it December 13. The new owner, Robert Strauss, claims Elkind never told him that the lots were being used for dumping. Strauss, by the way, was recently slapped with a citation for improper disposal of waste. And so the saga continues.

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