Boys & Girls Club Coming to Grips With Rothstein Scandal?

Well, it's come full circle.

After Scott Rothstein used his connections at various local charities to meet other high rollers who sometimes invested in his Ponzi scheme, he will be the subject of a talk at one of those charities, the Boys & Girls Club, tomorrow. Rothstein gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the club.

The featured speaker at the club's annual "men's luncheon" at the Grille 66 Bar & Grille will be attorney and Fort Lauderdale powerbroker Bill Scherer, who is representing one of the biggest losers in the Ponzi scheme, the Von Allmen family. The title of Scherer's talk is "The Ponzi in Its Aftermath." Minimum price for a seat at the luncheon is $125.

Fun fact: Grille 66, located at Pier 66, was one of Rothstein's favorite hangouts, and it was where he proposed to his wife, Kim.

Who is sponsoring the lunch? Why, none other than 

Linda Von Allmen, wife of investor Doug Von Allmen, Scherer's client.

The Boys & Girls Club was a place where Rothstein and several of his big-money associates mingled, including Von Allmen, his nephew Dean Kretschmar, and hedge fund owner Barry Bekkedam. Take a look at the list for the club's "admirals" for its annual "Yacht Rendezvous."

We'll make sure to get a report on how the talk went.

-- "Rothstein Undercover" says the Sentinel's front page. Yet the accompanying story has almost no new information in it. Certainly less than the report here on the case from a couple of weeks ago. Note to S-S: Don't oversell your stories. It does nothing for credibility.

-- So what's in the water in Coral Springs? With a former mayor of that city now serving a prison sentence for molesting a young girl, the commission last week appointed a new member of the board with a similar -- though unproven -- allegation in his past.

New commission appointee Ted Mena, who served one term on the commission from 2004 to 2008, was voted in by commissioners on Friday to replace one of the two commissioners removed from office for allegedly violating the Sunshine Law. Mena was named in a 2005 lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami as having sexually abused a teenaged boy at a Catholic school in the 1970s.

Mena, a car wash owner who is married with children, denies the allegation, and the lawsuit was dismissed after a judge ruled the statute of limitations had expired in the case. The identity of the accuser has never been released.

"I have no comment on that," Mena told me. "As you know, it was thrown out. There was no merit to that stupid thing. Somebody wanted to make some money. Why they did it was because I was a public official and they wanted money. People can accuse you of anything these days."

Mena left office inin 2008 after one term on the commission. In the middle of his term, he made public the fact that a lawsuit had been filed in Broward Circuit Court that alleged he had molested a boy while teaching at a Catholic school in Hollywood in the 1970s.

Whether the allegation was true, it probably wouldn't have helped Mena get reelected in 2008. But Mena decided against running again and left office in what seemed a bit of a huff. In a surprise announcement during a 2008 commission meeting, he said the job was "thankless" and "underpaid." Then, according to a Sun-Sentinel article from the time, he said, "I bid you adieu. For those of you who don't like me, I don't care."

Mena said he wasn't angry but was just telling the truth, and he'd changed his mind.  

"What I was talking about was my perspective of the fact that all commissioners are looked upon as a bunch of politicians, blah blah blah, but we do a lot of things for people, and people don't know what we do," he said. "So it is a thankless job. I said it's not a part-time job, and that is true. That was 15 months ago, and people can change their mind. My little points of view don't matter right now. I'm willing to come back now and help out."  

Mena also found controversy in 2006 when he was involved in a "disturbance" with a restaurant owner. From a Sun-Sentinel story at the time:

The report said restaurant owner Isaak Anastasiadis went into the parking lot at his Europa Martini Bar and Grille, in the 2400 block of North University Drive and found Mena standing near the spotlight "yelling into his cell phone" about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27.

According to the police report, Mena was loudly complaining about the spotlight and when the restaurant owner said he would consult the mayor about it, Mena got angry and used vulgarities about the mayor, the business, the business owner and police.

Because Mena had already left, the police report was based on what Anastasiadis and another witness, a patron of the restaurant, Keith M. Brown, told police. In an interview Friday, Anastasiadis repeated his allegations. Efforts to reach Brown were unsuccessful.

"I am a city commissioner. I am the man in Coral Springs," Mena said, according to the police report.

Mena denied parts of the report but apologized for his behavior and admitted at the time that he had "stuck his nose where it didn't need to be stuck."

It wasn't long before that incident that Mena was in the newspaper for the molestation lawsuit that was filed against the Archiocese of Miami and the Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory. Mena wasn't sued personally, but he was identified in the suit as a teacher who had abused a teenaged boy at the school. Here's a passage from the Sentinel story at the time:

Mena, a 63-year-old Coral Springs resident and owner of two car washes, said he disclosed the allegations because he wanted to publicly deny them. A copy of the civil suit, including his name, is posted on the Web site of Jeffrey Herman, a Miami attorney who specializes in child sex abuse lawsuits and represents the plaintiff.

"These allegations are totally baseless and false," Mena wrote in a letter he gave to fellow commissioners Tuesday night. "In light of my status as a public official... it would be best to respond to these allegations now rather than to live with the fear of their eventual disclosure."

A plaintiff, identified only as John Doe No. 23, sued the three entities, seeking more than $5 million in damages. The suit claims that the three groups were negligent to leave the accuser unsupervised with Mena, who was a Spanish instructor at the school for two years, and another man. This allowed the men to sexually abuse the accuser, a boy at the time, the suit alleges.

Broward Circuit Judge Robert L. Andrews dismissed the lawsuit in June, ruling that a four-year statute of limitations had expired before the lawsuit was filed. The plaintiff is appealing that decision.

"There is no amount of money that could ever compensate what happened," Herman said.

Herman, it should be noted, is serving an 18-month suspension from practicing law by the Florida Bar for ethics violations unrelated to cases involving the archdiocese.

Former longtime Coral Springs Mayor John Sommerer is now serving a four and a half year sentence after he was convicted of molesting a young girl last year (click here for Sommerer's arrest warrant).

Mena said he wanted to talk about good things he's done for the city.

"I was the first diversity Latino commissioner in Coral Springs, for one," he said. "I've reached out to the Haitian and black community. I've worked 20 years as a volunteer. When I finished the commission, I didn't walk away and say to hell with this. I continued working as a volunteer in the city." 

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