One of the great ironies of Scott Rothstein's legacy in Broward County is the way he painted himself as such as a humanitarian.
This spring, his Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm was a major sponsor of the Soref Jewish Community Center's Humanitarians of the Year event. The soiree, held at the Signature Grand hotel in Davie, raised money for the center's children's scholarship fund and food pantry programs.
"Scott Rothstein and his law firm have contributed so much to our Broward
community, with a deep concern for making a positive difference in people's lives," Marcia Engelman, coordinator for the event, said in the center's online newsletter this spring.
In tough economic times, Rothstein presented himself as a lifeline to local charities, hosting philanthropic balls all over town. In addition to giving to well-known groups such as the Dan Marino Foundation, the Humane Society, and the American Heart Association, Rothstein paid special attention to Jewish organizations.
Along with the Jewish Community Center's Humanitarians event and generous donations to the Downtown Jewish Center Chabad in Fort Lauderdale, he pledged a whopping $95,000 to sponsor the annual black-tie gala for Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options (JAFCO), a nonprofit agency that helps abused and neglected kids in South Florida.
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Now, lawyers for the investors who lost millions in Rothstein's alleged Ponzi scheme are seeking to recover the money he donated to charities. That could be devastating for some of these nonprofit agencies.
But according to Donald Graw, executive director of the Jewish Community Center, Rothstein wasn't an essential donor -- at least not for that organization.
"It was a really immaterial amount of money" that Rothstein donated, Graw says. "We're fortunate from that standpoint."
The Juice's phone message for JAFCO Executive Director Sarah Franco has not been returned, so it's tough to gauge the impact on her organization. But if his schemes end up taking thousands of dollars away from a group that helps abused kids... well, let's just say humanitarian is not a word that people will use to describe him.