I know that Scott Rothstein's former law partners, Stuart Rosenfeldt and Russell Adler, have a lot more to worry about right now than the Florida Bar, but a recent New York case may not bode well for their hopes to continue practicing law even if they somehow beat the odds and survive the federal investigation.
Two law partners of thieving lawyer Anthony Bellettieri have been suspended for three years from practicing law for failing to heed warning signs that Bellettieri was stealing from the firm's escrow accounts. This from the ABA Journal:
Although Bellettieri, who is now disbarred and serving a prison sentence, oversaw the Bellettieri Fonte and Laundonio escrow accounts, partners Robert Fonte and Tara Anne Laundonio were both signatories and should have paid more attention to red flags, a New York Supreme Court Appellate Division panel held in separate opinions last week.
The appellate panel found that the two violated their "nonwaivable fiduciary duty" to protect the firm's escrow funds, and suspended Fonte for three years and Laundonio for six months... [Fonte and Laundonio] never even saw bank statements for the firm's escrow and operating accounts, according to a report by special referee Steven Krane. "When it comes to safekeeping of funds... the proper approach is 'trust but verify,' " he wrote.
There were tons of red flags in the Rothstein case, not the least of which was the easily verifiable fact that the firm had a payroll of about $18 million yet was bringing in only $8 million in revenues. Rothstein's payment of huge bonuses and "loans," extreme spending, and erratic behavior should have also tipped off the lawyers. The fruits of Rothstein's outlandish Ponzi will be auctioned off next week at the Broward Convention Center on June 3 (above is an ad for the auction featuring the Princess Kimberly yacht and the $1.5 million Bugatti). Here's a link to the government website for the auction, which has numerous photos of Rothstein's former toys.
That said, I sincerely doubt that either of them will escape the federal investigation, which continues to progress at the speed of grass growing on a defunct golf course.
-- Speaking of green spaces, the environmental movement has become quite the refuge for scoundrels. Remember how the garbage dump in Sunrise went by the name "Green Now"? Well, now we have the "Go Green Initiative" by the Broward County School Board.
It involves outgoing School Board Member Bob Parks, Florida Ethics Commission Chairman Roy Rogers, millions in taxpayers' money, and a bunch of dubious "butterfly gardens" at the public schools. It proves once again that when our officials talk about "green initiatives," it's usually really about cold cash. Go to the jump to read more.
Bob Parks, a renowned crony for lobbyists and developers, was a big backer of "Green Schools" in 2007, after it was first proposed by School Board construction chief Michael Garretson, who has since retired from the board under a cloud of controversy.
Garretson was seen as a lot of things, but "environmentalist" wasn't at the top of the list. When the School Board funded the "Green Schools" project, it quickly gave contracts to Garretson's friend, Roy Rogers, to build the butterfly gardens, and to a Canadian firm called the IBI Group to do the other work. Their contracts totaled $3 million over three years. How much has actually been paid isn't known at this time.
So how did a company from Canada get a contract in South Florida to install indigenous trees at area schools? It's all about Rogers. Before Rogers was an "environmentalist" or a "community activist" or an "ethics leader" or a "champion of government reform," he was a developer with Arvida who helped build Weston on once-protected wetlands. The main engineer Rogers worked with on Arvida's Weston project was a company called CCL Consultants.
When Rogers left Arvida, he got a job as a "special consultant" with CCL. In 2004, the Toronto-based IBI Group bought CCL and Rogers started work for them. He still keeps an office in the company's Coral Springs branch.
After the board's green initiative was passed, the School Board created a newsletter called "The Broward Enviro-News." The first edition came out in June 2008, and it celebrated... Bob Parks, who helped push through the funding.
After the recent controversial vote to name a track field at Coconut Creek High School after Parks, we already know how much he loves to see his own name. He also likes to be called "Dr. Bob Parks" (he got a doctoral degree in something called "Education Leadership" from UM). So it must have been great for him to see named "Environmentalist of the Month."
"You may not know it to look at him, but Dr. Bob Parks is a 'Tree Hugger,'" the board's publication began.
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The honor followed a great tradition of Parks pushing to spend our money and then getting personal glory out of it. As for the butterfly gardens, I'm trying to determine what kind of condition they are in today to see what we really got out of that money.
Of course, Parks is a huge blowhard, but the real problem is that the entire School Board has been stupid enough to go along with him.
As for Roy Rogers, let's just call him what he really is: a former developer who is now eating from the taxpayers' trough. Oh, and he's also the top ethics official in Florida (thank you, Gov. Charlie Crist).
-- By the way, in case you missed it, here's a link to NTer Lisa Gartner's in-depth story on Weston Ponzi schemer Sean Healy. There are a lot of parallels to Rothstein, right down to a physical resemblance and an apparent penchant for Ed Hardy T-shirts.