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Lawsuit: 'Rank Greed' Led Judge Seidlin To Exploit Elderly Widow

A half-priced downtown condo on the Intracoastal.

A $50,000 piece of land.

More than $500,000 in cash that was was used to pay off mortgage, buy a second home in Pennsylvania, and pay tuition at an expensive private school.  

Family jewelry, a Dell computer, and a widescreen TV.

These are just some of the things Judge Larry Seidlin obtained from elderly widow Barbara Kasler, according to a civil suit filed by the widown's attorney yesterday. The Fort Lauderdale lawyer representing Kasler, Robert Bissonette, filed the suit yesterday claiming that "rank greed" led Seidlin to pilfer the widow's assets and belongings.

The suit alleges that Seidlin exploited Kasler after her second son, Frank Gardner, died, leaving her virtually alone. That's when Seidlin pounced, according to the lawsuit:

Within a short period of time, SEIDLIN and his wife, BELINDA, began frequently visiting and socializing with KASLER and monopolizing her time such that KASLER became socially isolated to the exclusion of other people and her family.

In less than six (6) month's time after meeting KASLER, SEIDLIN was referring to himself as KASLER'S son to third parties and began wearing Frank Gardner's jewelry, to-wit: a gold ring made with two (2) diamonds which came from KASLER'S Father's masonic ring and KASLER'S son REX'S diamond ring as well as an expensive gold bracelet KASLER bought for her son, Frank Gardner.

 

 

Shortly thereafter, Siedlin started hauling in some of the big-ticket items listed above. Creepy enough for you? The entire lawsuit can be read after the jump. It's formatted strangely, but the content is there, loud and clear.

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE 17TH

JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR

BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

BARBARA MUMFORD KASLER,

 

            Plaintiff,

 

vs                                                                                                                                                       

LARRY S. SEIDLIN, BELINDA RAY

SEIDLIN, BARBARA A. RAY, and

OREN A. RAY,

                                                                                    JUDGE:

            Defendant(s).

___________________________________/

 

                                                                  COMPLAINT

 

            COMES NOW, Plaintiff BARBARA MUMFORD KASLER, by and through undersigned counsel, and sues Defendants LARRY S. SEIDLIN, BELINDA RAY SEIDLIN, BARBARA A. RAY, and OREN A. RAY and alleges:

                        1.         This is an action for equitable relief within the jurisdiction of this Court and for damages in excess of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00) exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney's fees.

                        2.         BARBARA MUMFORD KASLER ("KASLER") is a resident of Broward County, Florida.

                        3.         LARRY S. SEIDLIN ("SEIDLIN") is a resident of Broward County, Florida.

                        4.         BELINDA RAY SEIDLIN ("BELINDA") is a resident of Broward County, Florida.

                        5.         BARBARA A. RAY ("BARBARA") is a resident of Broward County, Florida.

                        6.         OREN A. RAY ("OREN") is a resident of Broward County, Florida.

                        7.         All predicate acts and/or omissions constituting a basis for relief herein occurred in Broward County, Florida.

                        8.         KASLER is eighty-three (83) years of age and is entitled to have the trial of this action advanced on the Court's docket pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 415.1115.

                                            GENERAL FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

                        9.         On August 1, 2002, KASLER'S second son, Frank Gardner, died.  KASLER'S first son, Rex, also died before Frank Gardner, leaving KASLER without any surviving children.  KASLER was also previously divorced and her former spouse was also deceased.  Thus, by Summer 2002, KASLER was left without any immediate family that was close to her.

                        10.       Just after Frank Gardner's death, SEIDLIN, who resides in the same condominium as KASLER, to-wit: Marine Tower on East Las Olas Boulevard, discovered that KASLER was wealthy, without immediate family, and quickly befriended her.

                        11.       Within a short period of time, SEIDLIN and his wife, BELINDA, began frequently visiting and socializing with KASLER and monopolizing her time such that KASLER became socially isolated to the exclusion of other people and her family.

                        12.       In fact, in less than six (6) month's time after meeting KASLER, SEIDLIN was referring to himself as KASLER'S son to third parties and began wearing Frank Gardner's jewelry, to-wit: a gold ring made with two (2) diamonds which came from KASLER'S Father's masonic ring and KASLER'S son REX'S diamond ring as well as an expensive gold bracelet KASLER bought for her son, Frank Gardner.

                        13.       Also after Frank Gardner's death, BELINDA and her sisters came to Unit 1701 in Marine Tower, then owned by KASLER, and  began walking through the unit, unannounced and uninvited, commenting on how beautiful the unit was with its Southeast exposure to panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway.

                        14.       Shortly afterwards, SEIDLIN saw KASLER in the lobby of Marine Tower, initiated a conversation with her, and ultimately prevailed upon KASLER to sell Unit 1701 for the sum of Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000.00).  A true copy of the Warranty Deed for the sale of Unit 1701 to SEIDLIN'S in-laws, BARBARA and OREN, is attached hereto as Exhibit "A".

                        15.       Unbeknownst to KASLER, the fair market value of Unit 1701 at the time of sale in March 2003 was, according to several familiar Realtors, at least double the sales price, to-wit: $600,000.00 or more.

                        16.       The next month, in April 2003, a parcel of real property located in Palm Bay, Brevard County, Florida was transferred via Warranty Deed from KASLER to BELINDA for only Ten Dollars ($10.00) consideration.  A true copy of the Warranty Deed for the transfer of the Palm Bay property is attached hereto as Exhibit "B".

                        17.       Notably, the fair market value of the Palm Bay property at the time of transfer was approximately Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00).

                        18.       In January 2004, SEIDLIN wrote a check on KASLER'S bank account in the amount of One Hundred Thirty Thousand Dollars ($130,000.00) that was payable to his wife, BELINDA, and used to pay off the mortgage on SEIDLIN'S and BELINDA'S condominium residence, to-wit: Unit 1208, at Marine Tower.

                        19.       In May 2004, SEIDLIN wrote out a check on KASLER'S bank account in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) that was payable to his wife, BELINDA and, upon information and belief, was used to purchase a second home for BELINDA and SEIDLIN in the State of Pennsylvania in 2004.

                        20.       From 2006 through 2008, SEIDLIN wrote checks on KASLER'S bank account totaling Fifty Four Thousand Two Hundred Sixty Dollars ($54,260.00) payable to Pine Crest school for private school tuition benefitting SEIDLIN'S and BELINDA'S minor daughter, Dax Seidlin.

                        21.       From 2003 through 2008, SEIDLIN wrote checks on KASLER'S bank account totaling Fifty Two Thousand Dollars ($52,000.00) payable to his daughter, Dax Seidlin.

                        22.       From 2003 through 2008, SEIDLIN wrote checks on KASLER'S bank account totaling in excess of Sixty Thousand Two Hundred Sixty ($60,000.00) payable to SEIDLIN'S in-laws, BARBARA and OREN.

                        23.       In fact, from 2003 through 2008, SEIDLIN wrote checks on KASLER'S bank accounts totaling Five Hundred Nineteen Thousand Four Hundred Ninety Six Dollars and Ninety-Four Cents ($519,496.94) which benefitted himself or his family .

                        24.       In addition to the foregoing, KASLER has discovered that the following acts were also committed by SEIDLIN after they met:

                                                A.        SEIDLIN demanded a financial kickback from the person who wanted to purchase the home of KASLER'S deceased son, Frank, located on the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach, Florida and owned by KASLER.  The purchaser refused stating that : "I'm not dealing with this guy Larry Seidlin, he's looking for a kickback;

                                                B.        SEIDLIN and BELINDA actively conspired to change the terms of KASLER'S Last Will and Testament.  Specifically, after a dinner party in 2003, SEIDLIN invited Dorothy Colletto ("Danni"), KASLER'S caretaker and girlfriend of KASLER'S deceased son Frank, to their residence, Unit 1208 at Marine Tower.  Danni went to Unit 1208 and SEIDLIN invited Danni into his residence and asked her to sit at a down at a table with BELINDA seated nearby.  SEIDLIN then stated to Danni: "We gotta work together here. You gotta help me.  Now, you've already hit the lottery, you're in Barbara's Will.  You know, we're doing all the work here taking care of Barbara.  You have to help us get those two postcard girls [KASLER'S 2 nieces who sent her postcards] out of Barbara's Will and get my wife [BELINDA] in the Will ... they [nieces] don't help her, so they don't deserve anything .... it's me and you that are helping her.";

C.        An attorney personally observed SEIDLIN at the Broward County Courthouse discussing the conveyance of KASLER'S assets with his staff attorney, Michael Sullivan, Esq.  This conversation occurred in SEIDLIN'S judicial chambers whereupon the following exchange between SEIDLIN and Mr. Sullivan was clearly heard and seen by said attorney: "I met a little old lady in my building.  She's out of her mind but she's loaded with dough ... We got to get her [KASLER] to a lawyer who we don't know and aren't connected to .... Let's put the [Palm Bay] property in Dax's name, it'll never get back to us....";

                                                D.        When KASLER was going to move into John Knox Village where her sister, Joanne Walker resides, SEIDLIN became furious and demanded the return of KASLER'S deposit paid to John Knox so that KASLER would not leave Marine Tower;

                                                E.         When KASLER contemplated a relationship including marriage with someone she knew her entire life, Jerry Barker of Indiana, SEIDLIN became agitated and very nervous, stating to Danni: "Danni, this isn't funny, you gotta do something about this.  You got to talk to Barbara about not marrying this man because we'll lose our inheritance."

                                                F.         SEIDLIN and BELINDA used KASLER'S credit card to purchase items from Home Shopping Network for themselves and had those items shipped to KASLER'S Unit 304.  When those items arrived, SEIDLIN and BELINDA would come down from their Unit 1208 to retrieve these items at KASLER'S Unit 304 and then return with the items to their Unit 1208;

                                                G.        SEIDLIN and BELINDA used KASLER's money to buy electronics and impact resistant windows for themselves located in their Unit 1208;

                                                H.        BARBARA and OREN used KASLER'S money to buy furniture and impact resistant windows for themselves located in their Unit 1701;

                                                I.          SEIDLIN and BELINDA used KASLER'S credit card to make purchases for themselves at Target, Lowes, various hotels and restaurants, airlines, and entertainment.  The value of these credit card purchases is well in excess of one Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00);

            J.         SEIDLIN and BELINDA'S greed was so extensive that they even redeemed the points on KASLER'S credit card for a digital camera and for gift cards to local restaurants such as Capital Grille and Cheesecake Factory;

                                                K.        SEIDLIN took KASLER on a trip to their Pennsylvania home where KASLER had to pay for the purchase of a new bed that she could sleep on at the Pennsylvania home.  During this trip and unbeknownst to KASLER, SEIDLIN, BELINDA and their minor daughter, Dax, left Pennsylvania for New York City where they stayed at first-class hotels and even attended a Broadway production of "Mary Poppins" at KASLER'S expense while KASLER was bedridden back at their Pennsylvania home; and

                                                L.         Finally, SEIDLIN took control of KASLER'S telephone and mail and controlled the persons that could visit KASLER at Marine Tower.  SEIDLIN even instructed security personnel at Marine Tower to contact him anytime someone showed up and wanted to see KASLER. SEIDLIN's control over KASLER was so pervasive that he would never leave her alone with any third parties.

                        25.       Because of the above described isolation, KASLER became totally dependent upon the Defendants for her care and well-being and, out of necessity, had to rely upon the Defendants for all of her physical, emotional and medical needs.

                                 COUNT I - CIVIL REMEDY FOR EXPLOITATION

                                    (VS. SEIDLIN, BELINDA, BARBARA & OREN)

KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

                        26.       This is a statutory cause of action for civil theft pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 772.11 for violation of 825.103, to-wit: exploitation of an elderly person.  KASLER is over 60 years of age and suffers from the infirmities of aging as manifested by advanced age.

                        27.       Defendants knowingly, by deception or intimidation, obtained and used KASLER'S funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive KASLER of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property.

                        28.       Defendants stand in a position of trust and confidence with KASLER.

                        29.       The funds, assets, or property of KASLER are valued at more than One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).

                        30.       KASLER has substantially complied with written demand to Defendants as required by Fla. Stat. § 772.11 (1).  Said written demands are attached hereto as Exhibit "C".

                        31.       Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 772.11 (1), KASLER is entitled to treble damages hereunder.

                        32.       Additionally, pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 772.11 (1), KASLER is entitled to her reasonable attorney's fees and court costs incurred in prosecuting this action.

                        33.       Finally, Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 772.11 (5), KASLER is entitled to have the trial of this action advanced on the Court's docket.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against Defendants for treble damages, court costs, attorney's fees, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

                                                COUNT II - CIVIL CONSPIRACY

                                    (VS. SEIDLIN, BELINDA, BARBARA & OREN)

            KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

                        34.       There is a conspiracy by, between and among the Defendants to this action.

                        35.       The Defendants have conspired to commit unlawful acts, to-wit: to financially exploit KASLER in violation of Florida law.

                        36.       As more particularly alleged above, Defendants have executed overt acts in pursuance and furtherance of the conspiracy.

                        37.       KASLER has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' acts performed through the conspiracy.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against Defendants for damages, interest thereon for any liquidated amounts due and owing, court costs, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

                                                        COUNT III - RECISSION

                                                       (VS. BARBARA & OREN)

 

            KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

                        38.       This is an equitable action for recission of the Warranty Deed conveyed by KASLER to BARBARA and OREN.for the sale of Unit 1701 at Marine Tower.

                        39.       The character or relationship of the parties is that KASLER, as Seller, has executed a Warranty Deed in favor of BARBARA and OREN, as Buyers, of the real property known as 2500 East Las Olas Boulevard, Unit 1701, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301 ("subject property"). 

                        40.       KASLER sold Unit 1701 to BARBARA and OREN even though her understanding was that she was selling Unit 1701 to SEIDLIN and BELINDA.  Unbeknownst to her, KASLER sold Unit 1701 for the sum of $300,000.00 which, at the time of sale to BARBARA and OREN, was approximately fifty percent (50%) below fair market value.  However, all Defendants knew and were aware of the real fair market value of the subject property being approximately double the sale price paid by BARBARA and OREN to KASLER.

                        41.       Accordingly, the grounds for recission herein are based upon fraud by omission coupled with mistake.  Specifically, fraud by omission exists because BARBARA and OREN took advantage of KASLER not being aware of the fair market value of the subject property and they purposely failed to disclose that they were, in essence, getting a proverbial "steal" of the subject property.  Mistake exists by KASLER in that she had no knowledge whatsoever that the subject property was worth double its actual sale price to BARBARA and OREN.

                        42.       Additionally, the subject Warranty Deed should be rescinded on grounds of unconscionablity in its execution.

                        43.       KASLER, through counsel, has rescinded the subject Warranty Deed and has given BARBARA and OREN written notice of such rescission.  A copy of said notice of rescission is attached hereto as Exhibit "D".

                        44.       KASLER has offered to restore benefits received under the subject sale of Unit 1701 by agreeing to refund to BARBARA and OREN the full purchase price and closing costs associated with the subject sale to BARBARA and OREN.

                        45.       KASLER has no adequate remedy at law that would be as just and expeditious as rescission of the subject Warranty Deed.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against BARBARA and OREN rescinding the subject Warranty Deed attached hereto as Exhibit "A" thereby restoring legal title to the subject property in KASLER, for costs of suit, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper to effectuate the purposes for which recission is hereby sought.

                                                     COUNT IV - CONVERSION

                                    (VS. SEIDLIN, BELINDA, BARBARA & OREN)

 

            KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

                        46.       Defendants have committed unauthorized acts affecting KASLER'S property and assets as more particularly alleged herein above.

                        47.       These unauthorized acts have deprived KASLER of her property permanently or for an indefinite time.

                        48.       The deprivation is inconsistent with KASLER'S ownership interests in her property and assets.

                        49.       Accordingly, Defendants have exercised an act of dominion and control over KASLER'S property and assets inconsistent with her ownership interest thereof.

                        50.       As a result of the Defendants' conversion, KASLER has been damaged.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against Defendants for damages, interest thereon for any liquidated amounts due and owing, court costs, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

                                                         COUNT V - REPLEVIN

                                    (VS. SEIDLIN, BELINDA, BARBARA & OREN)

 

            KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

 

                        51.       This is a statutory cause of action for replevin as authorized by Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.937.

                        52.       This is an action to recover personal property located in Broward County, Florida.

                        53.       The description of the property is as follows:

                                                a. Gold ring with two (2) diamonds formerly worn by KASLER'S deceased son, Frank;

                                                b. Gold bracelet formerly worn by KASLER'S deceased son, Frank;

                                                c. Platinum and diamond tennis bracelet purchased by KASLER;

                                                d. Various personal and estate jewelry owned or purchased by KASLER and in the possession of SEIDLIN and BELINDA;

                                                e. Various pieces of lead crystal owned or purchased by KASLER in the possession of SEIDLIN and BELINDA;

f.          Furniture purchased from Baers' located in Unit 1701 paid for by KASLER in the possession of BARBARA and OREN; and

                                                g. Various electronics including a Dell computer and widescreen television located in Unit 1701 paid for by KASLER in the possession of SEIDLIN and BELINDA.

                        54. To the best of KASLER'S knowledge, information and belief, the value of the property is approximately Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00).

                        55. To the best of KASLER'S knowledge, information and belief, the above property is located in Unit 1208 at Marine Tower owned by SEIDLIN and BELINDA.

                        56. The property is wrongfully detained by Defendants.  Defendants came into possession of the property by simply taking it from KASLER'S residence or, alternatively, buying it with KASLER'S money. To KASLER'S best knowledge, information, and belief, Defendants detain the property because of rank greed.

                        57.       The property has not been taken for any tax, assessment, or fine pursuant to law.

                        58.       The property has not been taken under an execution or attachment against KASLER'S property.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against Defendants for possession of the above property, for costs of suit, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper to effectuate the purposes for which replevin is hereby sought.

 

 

                         COUNT VI - UNJUST ENRICHMENT

               (VS. SEIDLIN, BELINDA, BARBARA & OREN)

 

            KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

 

                        59.       KASLER has conferred benefits on the Defendants, all of whom have knowledge thereof.

                        60.       The Defendants have voluntarily accepted and retained the benefits conferred by KASLER.

                        61.       The circumstances, more particularly alleged above, render the Defendants' retention of the benefits inequitable unless the Defendants pay to KASLER the value of the benefits conferred.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against Defendants for damages, interest thereon for any liquidated amounts due and owing, court costs, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

 

COUNT VII - BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY

(VS. SEIDLIN, BELINDA, BARBARA & OREN)

 

            KASLER re-alleges paragraphs 1-25 above as if fully set forth herein and further alleges:

 

                        62.       KASLER and each one of the Defendants shared a relationship where:

           

                                                A.        KASLER reposed trust and confidence in the Defendants; and

                                                B.        The Defendants undertook such trust and assumed a duty to advise, counsel and/or protect KASLER.

                        63.       For example and without limitation, the Defendants fed, bathed, clothed and cared for KASLER as well as paying her bills and KASLER relied upon the Defendants for same.

                        64.       Defendants breached a fiduciary duties owed to KASLER, to-wit: duties of honesty, loyalty, trust, and confidence.

                        65.       KASLER has suffered damages as a result of the Defendants' breach of fiduciary duties.

            WHEREFORE, KASLER demands judgment against Defendants for damages, interest thereon for any liquidated amounts due and owing, court costs, and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

           DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

            KASLER hereby makes demand for trial by jury on all issues herein so triable.

            DATED this             day of June, 2009.

 

Robert P. Bissonnette, P.A.

Attorney for Plaintiff KASLER                                                                               


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