About Those Ponzi Proceeds | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

About Those Ponzi Proceeds

Someone recently said that the least I could do is delve into questions about the missing Rothstein money and theorize about where it wound up. So here I go.

First off, how much money is there? Bill Scherer said he was privy to the fact that about $250 million exited Scott Rothstein's accounts in October alone. So let's use that number as our starting point. The feds haven't let on that they have much of any of it but a few million here and there (and the $14 million or so in Morocco).

Nurik says at the end of the day that he believes it will all be accounted for and assures me that none of it is still in Rothstein's possession. That leads me to believe that some of it is still in Rothstein's possession and that much of it will never be accounted for.

I can't imagine that Rothstein didn't stash some for himself (and maybe for Kimmie too). But the brunt of the money, I believe, is in other people's hands. And I have a feeling a good bit of it has wound up in the hands of organized crime -- of both the Italian and Israeli variety. I think two places to look for the Ponzi proceeds are

Brooklyn and Tel Aviv.

Let's start with Israel. We know about the millions that Rothstein wired to Ovi Levy and his father, Shimon Levy, along with their in-law and Renato business partner Daniel Mink while he was in, or en route to, Morocco. We know Shimon Levy has had deep ties to Israeli organized crime. We also know, from sources, that Rothstein was known to associate with a rather tough-looking gang of Orthodox Jews. While there's no proof that big money wound up with the Israeli criminal set, it would seem a good place to look. 

Now what about the Italian faction? Here's the deal: Rothstein had ties to the Mafia. And don't kid yourself and think those ties are shallow. Yes, Rothstein, the Bronx boy, was a wannabe for a lot of years. He tried to hang with the wiseguys, but they wouldn't have anything to do with him. Once he started pulling in the Ponzi cash and began throwing millions around like dimes, the made boys started gravitating to him. They were a regular presence at Bova. He had business deals with them and was engaged in various shenanigans with them. One source (and player in this drama) told me that the mobsters didn't invest big in his Ponzi, but a couple of them put in a total of $500,000 or so. Not a whole lot of money, but understand that these guys would knock you off for $5,000. It's the principle of thing, you understand. The theory is that Rothstein, as part of his end game, pumped some big bucks into Brooklyn not only to buy his safety in prison but to possibly pad his return when he got out.

Here's what I want to know: Will the feds ever be able to track down the money? And if they don't, does that mean that Rothstein won?