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Collateral Damage: More Folks Affected by Rothstein Rip-Off

In addition to the laid-off employees at the Versace mansion, the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm, and other former Scott Rothstein business, there are many others who are either looking for work or have lost sizable income due to the Ponzi blow-up.

Three of them are in this post. Start with Tom James Clothier saleswoman Romina Sifuentes. She sold all those suits to Rothstein, and rumors are that he paid in the six figures for them each year. I contacted Sifuentes, and after introducing myself, I didn't get a chance to even ask a question. "No comment," said Sifuentes, who is still on the job.

Another person out of luck is Andrew Barnett, son of socialite art dealer Bonnie Barnett. Barnett was working as Rothstein's director of corporate development, but his real job was to drum up money for Rothstein's investment scheme. Word is that he's still waiting for a $400,000 commission check that he'll surely never see. I reached Barnett on the phone, and he said he didn't want to comment. "I don't want to answer any questions; I had no idea what was

going on," he said of the Ponzi scheme. "I just don't want to be involved."

Well, he doesn't have any choice at this point, but he may very well be telling the truth about not knowing Rothstein was ripping people off. His mother, Bonnie, sank $500,000 of her own money into Rothstein's investment scheme, after all. And Bonnie's current husband, physician Robert Kagan, is rumored to have also put in at least that amount if not more.

But Andrew Barnett got to live it up for a while. Barnett has been seen eating and drinking it up at one of Rothstein's restaurants, Bova Prime, and also attending football games at the two luxury boxes Rothstein had at Land Shark Stadium for Miami Dolphins football games. One of the boxes was in the name of the RRA law firm, the other in Renato watches, which he co-owns with his former pal Ovi Levy, who allegedly had $14 million in the investment scheme. The Renato luxury box, by the way, had the distinction of having the only kosher buffet at Land Shark.

Also spotted recently in Rothstein's luxury boxes were folks like Gibralter Bank's John Harris, RRA general Counsel David Boden (who was knee-deep in the investment scheme), Rabbi Schneur Kaplan, and former RRA attorney Carl Linder.

Then you have marketer Kip Hunter Epstein, who was closely aligned with Rothstein and helped book him some space in those society magazines. She even got some space herself, having been named a "Power for Good" in last month's City & Shore magazine, along with folks like Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning. "Each is gifted with a drive to make a difference. Together, they show us that the diversity of our gifts is what makes a community truly rich," the magazine wrote of Hunter and her fellow honorees.

Hunter, whose office was six floors above Rothstein's in the Bank of America building, invariably listed Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler and the Bova Group as her top clients, along with Levinson Jewelers. She didn't return a phone call to her office.

And then you have the hedge funds. Like Fort Lauderdale businessman George Levin's Banyon Funding, which was apparently raising money hand over fist for Rothstein (Doug Von Allmen, who is having a clearance sale on his New York apartment, was one who put his money into Rothstein via Banyon).

Boy, was the greed rampant around Rothstein. More coming.
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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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