Source: BSO Lieutenant's Firm Received $30,000 From Rothstein

Broward Sheriff's Lt. David Benjamin, Al Lamberti's own "executive officer," received $30,000 from Scott Rothstein for his outside consulting firm, according to a former close Rothstein associate.

The Sheriff's Office is currently investigating Benjamin's firm, DWB Consulting Group, a Delaware company incorporated in Florida in May with the help of then-Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler attorney Christina Kitterman. It's not known if Benjamin paid for the services of Rothstein's law firm. Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said he couldn't comment on the investigation.

Benjamin, who helped strategize and organize Lamberti's political campaign last year, and Rothstein were close friends. The lieutenant accompanied Rothstein to the G-5 jet when he fled the country for Morocco on October 27. It's not known if Benjamin was compensated for that act.

At the same time, Rothstein, in an apparent attempt at setting up his former friend Moe Sohail, claimed that Benjamin was working with him as a bag man of sorts. Read the post below for more on that.

We also know that Benjamin was a guest in Rothstein's luxury box at Land Shark Stadium for at least one Dolphins football game. Leljedal said he believes that is permitted under department policy.  

Lamberti removed Benjamin from his role overseeing Internal Affairs shortly after it was learned he assisted Rothstein's bolt from the country.

-- Gov. Charlie Crist just suspended Rothstein from the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Fourth District Court of Appeals. That Charlie, he's always so swift and decisive. It only took him three weeks. He replaced Rothstein with William Berger. (No, not former judge and RRA attorney William Berger of Boca Raton, but William Berger of Greenspoon Marder in Fort Lauderdale.)

-- There is some serious heat being applied right now to Judge Herbert Stettin, the receiver appointed to oversee the Rothstein bankruptcy. Miami attorney Richard Sharpstein is alleging that Stettin improperly

ran a private legal practice while serving as a judge.

The allegations "raise serious questions about Judge Stettin's fitness to continue as a fiduciary for the victims of the Rothstein scandal, who have every right to demand the appointment of an honest and independent trustee to protect their interests," Sharpstein and his client, wealthy investor Peter Halmos, wrote in a press release on the matter.

Here are the major points raised by Sharpstein on a website devoted to the judge's alleged transgression (and here's a link to a Stettin "white paper")

  • Abusing his judicial office and the Miami Dade Courthouse for personal gain by conducting a constitutionally prohibited private law practice while concurrently serving as an appointed sitting Senior Circuit and Associate Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge with chambers and a courtroom in the Miami Dade Courthouse;
  • Filing false sworn financial and gift disclosures with the State of Florida since 1999 that conceal the sources of millions of dollars in payments and mislead as to the activity of his sole proprietorship law firm, Hebert Stettin P.A.;
  • Using the American Arbitration Association as a billing conduit to facilitate the ability of local lawyers and law firms to secretly and indirectly hire and pay Judge Stettin while at the same time appearing in his courtroom;
  • Wielding his judiciary power, under color of state authority as a sitting judge, in private arbitration proceedings to improperly confiscate millions of dollars in assets to fund his law firm's activity;
  • Appointing "cronies" to a receivership whereby over a span of five years millions of dollars were misappropriated;
  • Accepting his appointment as receiver in the Rothstein scandal given either the real or appearance of conflicts created by Judge Stettin's ties to members of the Rothstein Law Firm. Such ties include: Judge Stettin's recruitment by and lengthy collaboration with Judge Barry Stone (now a member of the Rothstein Law Firm), on the 4th District Court of Appeals; Judge Stettin's service on the 4th DCA with Judge Gary Farmer Sr., father of Rothstein partner Gary Farmer Jr.; alleged scamster Scott Rothstein's position on the 4th DCA nominating commission; and Gary Farmer Jr.'s relationship with Eric Stettin, Judge Herbert Stettin's son.

It's rare to see a lawyer going after a judge with such a vengeance, but it looks like they might have a case to make.

-- So George G. Levin, the largest feeder to Rothstein's scheme, sent a letter to his investors Monday, according to the South Florida Business Journal. Yes, he said, his COO, Frank Preve, is a felon, but no, he didn't have an office at the RRA firm. Instead, it was someone else working for Banyon, Michael Szafranski, who boarded at the Rothstein law firm. Levin wrote:  

"Szafranski's responsibility was to independently verify each representation that the Rothstein law firm made regarding any opportunity to invest in a confidential settlement. Szafranski was to have full access to the legal files for each case, and full access to TD Bank information as to each trust account."

Szafranski, a known friend of Rothstein's, clearly has some serious explaining to do.

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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