I guess it should come as no news flash that Scott Rothstein was a rampant extorter and blackmailer. He basically boasted to potential investors in his Ponzi scheme that he made his money hitting up bosses who were cheating with employees on their wives for out-of-court settlements.
But the stuff I'm hearing now is mind-blowing. Unlike some of the excellent commenters here (Torts, I'm looking at you), I can't just ring off information as it comes in. I know this is frustrating, but let me assure you, this is the greatest story in the history of South Florida, and it will all come out in due time. Let me just say that I'm hearing incredible stories about Rothstein's use of his associates to impersonate judges, officials, and reporters on the phone to help him in his extortion schemes and scams.
Now I want to look briefly at another Rothstein business associate, Albert Peter, former CEO of Silversea Cruises. Rothstein somehow became an attorney for the cruise line, which is owned by Italian aristocrat Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, who operates mainly in Italy and Monaco.
A source close to Rothstein told me that Rothstein became embroiled in a blackmail attempt on Lefebvre d'Ovidio that
is incredible in its scope and sheer gall. The attempt allegedly involved one of Rothstein's cronies traveling to Italy impersonating a South Florida reporter and another of his associates pretending to be a federal maritime official on the phone.
It's impossible to get into the details at this point, but suffice it to say that Lefebvre d'Ovidio got the best of Rothstein during a meeting in Monaco and Rothstein returned home defeated and without the multimillion-dollar killing he expected to rake in.
What's interesting is that Peter, who left Silversea in 2007, and Rothstein went into business together after that disaster. Peter, whom I haven't been able to locate or contact, took an office at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm, and they went into business together on a cruise line called Jewel River Cruise Line, which was incorporated by Rothstein lawyer Blandin Wright in August 2007.
A so-called "boutique luxury" cruise line (gag), it was supposed to open in the spring of 2008 but had unexpected setbacks (thanks to the commenter who linked some of this stuff yesterday). They also opened the Maritime Investment Group, which was also incorporated by Wright and listed the RRA address.
I'm told that Peter was a fixture at the RRA offices until about six months ago, when he suddenly disappeared from view.
But to get an idea of how Rothstein and Peter operated together, here's a blurb from John Reed, who was sued by Rothstein client Russ Whitney, an informercial guru who wracked up hundreds of complaints from customers who claimed he ripped them off. To read the entire thing, click here, but it's pretty funny stuff, about Rothstein's attempt to delay a deposition by saying he was going on a Silversea cruise:
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The reason they said they needed the last three delays was that one of Whitney' lawyers "Scott Rothstein" has some undisclosed illness. In oppositions to these motions, I have complained long and loud that Rothstein has had little to do with this case for a couple of years. Virtually all the papers filed with the court during that period have the signature of Christina Kitterman. If she prepared them, what do we suddenly need him for? If he prepared them, why did she sign them? ... What difference does it make if one guy is missing? ... Now they need the delay because [Rothstein is] NOT sick. I wondered if they were going to try to get a fourth delay out of Rothstein's illness. In a backward way, they have. In their June 28, 2005 motion, they say Rothstein's doctor cleared him to travel on June 27, 2005. And guess what? He just happens to have tickets on a cruise that requires him to depart the United States on June 28, 2005. What an amazing, lucky coincidence! His cruise ship""the Silver Wind""departs Rome at 11PM on July 1st for Palma De Mallorca, capital of a Spanish island in the Mediterranean (Voyage 2516). ...
He could have and should have issued the Notice of Nonavailability as soon as the reservations were made. Rothstein attached a letter from the executive assistant to Mr. Albert Peter, chief executive officer of Silversea Cruises Ltd., that says the cruise cost is nonrefundable. Well, there's some poetic justice. Just like the nonrefundable Russ Whitney seminar fees that pay Rothstein's legal fees. Why do we have a letter from the CEO's assistant? Either we are supposed to be impressed with Rothstein's connections to prominent Fort Lauderdaleans or there is some court decision that says that a CEO's assistant letter about nonrefundability carries more weight in a court of law than a photocopy of the receipt saying the exact same thing... If you cannot expend the energy necessary to answer an interrogatory (written question) "with the help of four other lawyers," it's hard to see where you would get the energy to fly to Rome, cruise to Mallorca then fly back home. Poor baby. How about this line from the motion? "Mr. Rothstein has not taken a vacation for more than a few days in over three years and it would be in his best interest healthwise to travel on the trip." I must have missed that issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. You know, the one that says travel from Fort Lauderdale to Fort Myers, Florida, for a two-hour court hearing is too stressful but that flying on a plane with no medical staff or facilities over the Atlantic Ocean from Fort Lauderdale to Rome, sailing the Mediterranean Sea on a cruise ship with limited medical facilities and staff to Mallorca, and flying back home in another nonhospital plane is an indicated therapy for certain illnesses. Rothstein has "not taken a vacation for more than a few days in over three years." Hey! Me neither.