UPDATED [After the jump, an update from what promises to be a wild Sunrise city hall meeting, which is already packed with people]: Well, I got former Scott Rothstein partner Stuart Rosenfeldt on the phone this afternoon.
Rosenfeldt, who is now the subject of a $9 million-plus clawback lawsuit filed by bankrupcty trustee Herb Stettin, didn't want to talk.
"I'm not going to say anything," he said. "I just want to go forward with my life and get past it."
I asked Rosenfeldt if he would help clear up the information coming from the bankruptcy court that he purchased 72 pieces of jewelry from J.R. Dunn Jewelers from December 2008 to July 2009 alone. It sure sounds like a lot.
"That was the total of jewelry that I bought for my two daughters and my wife since 2002," he said. "I think that's where they got that number. I bought plenty of jewelry. I bought for myself, my daughters, and it included gifts for other people, including male friends. But that was everything I've purchased since 2002."
Did Rosenfeldt purchase it all on the law firm's American Express cards?
"Not all of it," Rosenfeldt answered. "Some of it was bought on
Amex and some of it before."
Now I had to ask him an uncomfortable question. Sources close to Rosenfeldt and the law firm have told me that the main reason Rosenfeldt stayed with Rothstein was for the lifestyle that it afforded not only for him and his family but also at least one mistress. I had heard that from early November, when the Rothstein story first broke, but felt that it wasn't journalistically pertinent. The questions raised in the bankruptcy lawsuit change that -- the money Rosenfeldt was spending was Ponzi money, after all, whether he knew it or not.
Included in the lawsuit filing is the fact that Rosenfeldt charged the law firm for "numerous" local hotel rooms. What were they used for? Any mistress will surely become an issue in the suit, so I asked Rosenfeldt if he had a mistress and if she received some of the RRA largesse.
"I'm not going to comment on that at all," said Rosenfeldt. "You will have to ask my attorney about that."
I asked that attorney, Bruce Lehr of Miami, the same question.
"I think that his personal life is just that, personal," said Lehr.
Rosenfeldt has claimed from the beginning that he didn't know that his former partner was running a giant Ponzi scheme. Lehr told me that Rosenfeldt stayed with Rothstein because he was under the "misconception" that the law firm was a good one. And he said that Rosenfeldt paid income taxes on all RRA money that he used for personal expenses.
"The money spent on hotel rooms and otherwise, every expense made were legitimate ones, and if it was personal expenses, taxes were paid on those funds," Lehr told me. "He just went to work and represented his clients. He earned any money he got."
Nine million dollars earned?
"He does not feel he made anywhere near $9 million," Lehr said.
As for the campaign contributions -- Rosenfeldt and his wife, Suzanne, spent hundreds of thousands on political races -- Lehr said the money spent was legitimate.
"He was a 50 percent owner of the law firm, so any money he received from the law firm would not be bonuses," said Lehr. "Any [political] contributions he gave were pursuant to his own political tenets. He was never given a bonus to cover them."
The lawsuit, however, claims that Rothstein paid Rosenfeldt law firm money for the purpose of contributing to his chosen campaigns. It specifically mentions a $140,000 bonus that was paid to Rosenfeldt just days before he donated the same amount to John McCain's campaign.
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-- The Sunrise Commission meeting set to feature a hearing on the push to allow a well-connected garbage executive to locate a giant trash transfer station was packed full of people at 6 p.m., an hour before it began. Garbage man Jim Feeley's contingent is wearing T-shirts that say "Recycling good, Alu bad," a reference to the fiercest opponent of the transfer station, Commissioner Sheila Alu. The funny thing is that this isn't really about recycling at all -- it's about a place for Feeley to bring his garbage. Sunrise already recycles anyway. There are numerous children who attend a mosque near the proposed site who are wearing green masks on their faces in protest of the stench the station is feared to bring. Below is a photo of a sliver of the crowd.
UPDATE II: The garbage transfer station is dead. Despite total incompetence from the ethics commission and apparent corruption in the commission, Sunrise killed the garbage transfer station proposal this evening. Commissioner Larry Sofield, the clinching vote for the station, did a u-turn and said that he no longer supported the idea. There was even talk of adding language in the city charter to make sure nobody ever tries to bring a new garbage dump to Sunrise again. Alu wins; Wishner and Rosen go home tonight with their tails between their legs.