Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein purchased more than $20 million in jewelry from just two Las Olas stores, says a source close to the case.The bulk of the jewelry was purchased at Levinson Jewelers, and a sizable amount also came from J.R. Dunn Jewelers, said the source. Both stores have already turned over receipts and other records to the bankruptcy court.
The $20 million figure applies only to the diamonds, watches, and other jewelry known to have been purchased at Levinson and Dunn. Rothstein was also known to shop at other stores, including Mayer, where financial records show he had an account. Rothstein boasted of having a watch collection worth millions of dollars.
It's believed that a good deal of Rothstein's fortune in jewelry has yet to be recovered by the feds.
Rothstein was the kind of guy who could carry a jewelry store -- and it's believed that he did just that in the case of Levinson, which recently moved from Plantation to palatial digs in Las Olas. J.R. Dunn's shop on Las Olas was closed for good on Friday (the original Dunn store in Lighthouse Point remains open).
Sean Dunn, who runs the store with his father, Jim, told me today that the closing wasn't directly related to Rothstein, that is was more of a family decision to consolidate the business. But he conceded that Rothstein was a one-of-a-kind customer.
"It was nowhere near $20 million, though," Dunn told me. "We didn't get the
lion's share of that business. We may have done 10 percent of that. There just was nobody like Scott Rothstein. When he walked into a room, it wasn't just staff that looked at him to see what he was doing; it was everybody at the party. When you went up to his office and saw all the lawyers and judges, you just felt like he was somebody with the golden touch, so to speak. It's going to sound stupid, but we were lulled into believing that."
Dunn said that most big jewelry customers have loyalty to a specific jeweler, but it wasn't so with Rothstein. "He spread it around everywhere," said Dunn. "When you get someone like him, you want to build loyalty, but that obviously didn't happen."
It's clear that if Rothstein had a main jeweler, it was Levinson. If Dunn sold Rothstein $2 million worth of jewelry, that would leave $18 million-plus coming from Levinson. The two men shared the same publicist, Kip Hunter, and both forged close relationships with Dan Marino, whose face is on Levinson billboards around town.
Mark Levinson hasn't returned phone calls for comment.
Since Rothstein is in the midst of cutting a plea deal with the federal government, he is in a position where he must come clean about where he put his jewelry fortune. If he doesn't come clean or outright lies to prosecutors about it, a plea deal consisting of an estimated 25 or 30 years in prison could go down the tubes and he could kiss goodbye any chance of seeing freedom in his old age. So if Rothstein is trying to hide jewelry or other assets, he's playing a very dangerous game.