Ever since Guma Aguiar disappeared at sea, his mother and her fiancé have been trying to gain control of his many millions in assets, scattered across the U.S. and Israel in the form of cash and investments.
The mother, Ellen Aguiar, petitioned a Broward County Court to make her a conservator of his fortunes. In a hearing yesterday, the judge asked her to step aside for the moment, appointing a local lawyer as conservator: Thomas F. Panza.
That name might sound vaguely familiar to Pulp readers: five years ago, Panza was working for corrupt Sheriff Ken Jenne to defend him from critics and conduct a $1.2 million whitewash audit of the BSO on the taxpayers' dime.
There are other big-name players in town who have been drawn into this case by the wide reach of Aguiar's money. Ilene Lieberman, a Broward County commissioner who last year saw prosecutorial immunity for assisting in corruption cases against her peers, has been listed as an attorney for Ellen Aguiar, although Lieberman has not responded to a request for details.
Ellen, meanwhile, is represented by powerful Miami attorney Richard Baron as she tries to keep his U.S. assets as well as an estimated $40 million in Israel out of the hands of his wife, Jamie Aguiar. The probate case is proceeding with Guma listed as a "decedent," on the assumption that he's no longer alive.
Of Panza taking over the conservatorship, Judge Mark A. Speiser told Ellen: "What you've been doing has been shifted over to Mr. Panza. If he feels you still should be involved in some capacity, I have no problem with him doing that."
Panza, a prolific local bipartisan campaign donor over the years and a well-connected lawyer, made headlines in 2007 when the state attorney and FDLE were looking into corrupt business deals and after-hours consulting work by Jenne, who'd later be sent to prison for a year and a day on corruption charges.
Jenne paid more than $1.2 million to Panza from department funds to conduct his own audit, and Panza later told the Sun-Sentinel he hadn't found "one scintilla of evidence" of bad practices by Jenne. Bob Norman wrote and blogged about this "Panza connection."
Now, Jamie Aguiar and her attorney are pissed about this turn of events and said they "would be objecting seriously" to Ellen and her fiancé's meddling in Aguiar's Israeli business affairs.
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