One strange name that has popped up in this thing is Menachem "Mel" Lifshitz. He's a former lawyer who was named in the Scherer lawsuit as having been present at the emergency meeting of investors at the Banyon headquarters in Fort Lauderdale on November 1, when it first became clear that Scott Rothstein had fled the country and stolen a whole lot of Ponzi money.
Why was Lifshitz there? What is his role? Who is he?
Well, the last question has at least a bit of an answer: He's yet another disgraced lawyer who pleaded guilty last year to filing a false tax form. Seems he evaded evaded taxes by lying about expenses and donations to charities. Did he go to prison? Of course not. Instead, he bought his way out of it with a $4.75 million "settlement." Barron's did a story on some of his shady legal and business practices back in 2007. And The Street found that he had an interesting conflict of interest back in 2006, long before he was forced to quit practicing law:
For high-powered securities lawyer Mel Lifshitz, giving takes many forms, some more noble than others.
Since 2003, a charitable trust funded and administered by Lifshitz's family has donated money to various causes, most of them orthodox Jewish organizations. Another recipient of the charity's money, however, has been a
limited partnership that was a plaintiff in more than a dozen class-action lawsuits filed by Lifshitz's firm over the past four years, a review of documents shows.
TheStreet.com found that the Melly & Rochelle Lifshitz Charitable Trust has invested at least $227,655 in the Delaware limited partnership, Colbart Birnet. In addition, a charitable trust set up by Lifshitz's law firm, Bernstein Liebhard & Lifshitz, one of the nation's top securities class-action firms, has invested at least $225,000 in the same partnership.
Moreover, in five filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lifshitz is listed as a "beneficial owner" of the Colbart Birnet partnership -- a circumstance Lifshitz says is plain wrong and attributes to "human error." Clouding the picture further are two alternate spellings for Colbart Birnet that appear in court filings and a federal tax return for the law firm charity. Lifshitz says there's nothing to the discrepancies and ascribes them to "typographical" mistakes.
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What bothers me most is that shady dealers like Lifshitz manage to stick around and play games with other people's money for way too long. The guy never should have had a chance to have his name to surface in the Rothstein fiasco.
Speaking of the SEC, anybody ever look at First Chesapeake Financial Corp.? George "The Whale" Levin was a big investor in that, and it ran into some trouble with the SEC. Here's
a document noting that it was suspended from trading (along with a Gary Player company). Thanks to the reader who sent that along, by the way.