So I've been following this Mutual Benefits scam pretty closely, especially the actions of mastermind Joel Steinger. Following Steinger's divorce, I learned that there was a hearing this morning regarding alleged contempt by his ex-wife, Diana Steinger.
I showed up at the hearing this morning in Judge Susan Greenhawt's chambers with hopes of catching up Joel Steinger himself. Alas, he wasn't there, but it still turned out to be pretty interesting.
Lawyer Bill Gardiner is holding the threat of contempt over Diana Steinger until she pays about $6,000 in guardian ad litem fees and interest. Gardiner hasn't gone after the guy with the money, Joel Steinger, because Steinger has already paid the fees.
Joel Steinger may be an unrepentant criminal but he is smart -- and he knows how to get the legal community behind him. How? Why, he hires a huge number of lawyers. He's buds with a lot of lawyers and lines a lot of their pockets. Little known fact: Judge Larry Seidlin and Joel Steinger are very close buddies (until the indictment, anyway). That's right, Judge Larry used to hang out with the felon on a regular basis.
From what I've seen, his largesse has led to Diana Steinger being half-drummed out of court, as if she were convicted felon under federal indictment for fraud and money laundering rather than the other way around.
Understand this: Broward County's lawyers, by and large, are an amoral lot who pray to the mighty dollar. And nothing else. They play right into Joel Steinger's hands.
But if Diana Steinger is telling the truth then Joel Steinger has his priorities seriously screwed up. Diana -- who refused comment after the hearing -- told Judge Greenhawt that their seven-year-old son has been booted out of private school at Nova because Joel hasn't paid his half of the tuition. She said the kid has been out of school for three weeks and that she doesn't know what to do.
Let's see; he pays the fees of Gardiner and guardian ad litem Randy Bovan, but fails to pay for his own son's tuition. Ooh. The smell is getting worse coming from that New River mansion Joel's still living in.
(By the way, can somebody tell me what's going with the Broward guardian ad litem program? Is that a racket?)
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"It's wrong, I don't want my son being out of school," Diana Steinger said.
"I agree," Judge Greenhawt said. "He should be in school."
I hope Greenhawt, who has ruled with Joel Steinger religiously but seemed very fair at this hearing, rights the situation. No reason a child should pay for Joel Steinger's sins. But in the meantime, I give Diana Steinger the quote of the day:
"My friends pay everything for me ... but they don't want to pay attorney fees," she told Greenhawt. "They say it just gets wasted. (Pause) I agree."