On the morning of October 8, Scott Rothstein sent out an "allstaff" email to the attorneys in his firm that was severe in its tone. There was no "kids" appellation on this one and no "love ya" at the end. If you believe that all-caps emails are a form of yelling, then Rothstein was yelling, or perhaps pleading.
The subject was Howard Kusnick, a longtime Rothstein partner who was then working out of the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler firm. But for some reason, Rothstein clearly wanted to erase Kusnick from RRA's rolls, and he needed full cooperation on the matter from his 70-plus attorneys and other employees:
From: Scott Rothstein
Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 8:45 AM
Subject: IMPORTANT--HOWARD KUSNICK
IF ANYONE CALLS FOR HOWARD KUSNICK, OR ASKS ABOUT HIM....AND I MEAN ANYONE.....HE IS NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF OUR FIRM. YOU ARE SIMPLY TO TELL THE CALLER OR THE PERSON INQUIRING THAT HE IS NOT EMPLOYED BY RRA AND CAN BE REACHED AT 954-648-4290.
HOWARD IS AWARE OF THIS AND UNDERSTANDS. WHILE HE MAY BE IN OUR OFFICE FROM TIME TO TIME IN THE FUTURE, HE IS NOT AN EMPLOYEE OF RRA.
THANKS FOR YOUR ATTENTION TO THIS MOST IMPORTANT MATTER.
ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE SEE ME DIRECTLY. PLEASE DO NOT BOTHER
HOWARD OR HIS SECRETARY WITH THIS.
Five minutes later, Rothstein sent out another all-caps message, titled "MORE ON HOWARD KUSNICK":
IF ANYONE INQUIRES AS TO WHETHER HE HAS EVER WORKED FOR US OR WHEN HE WORKED FOR US OR TIME PERIODS ETC, YOU ARE INSTRUCTED TO PLEASE SIMPLY SAY THAT HE IS NOT EMPLOYED BY OUR FIRM AND GIVE THEM HIS NUMBER.... 954-648-4290
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Most of the RRA employees had no idea why they were supposed to deny that Kusnick worked for the firm. But sources say that Kusnick, as Rothstein hinted at in the first email, kept right on coming into the office like he always did. The truth is that of all the lawyers in Broward County, Rothstein worked with Kusnick, who has also worked as a garbage business lobbyist, most of all. He was partners with Kusnick back in his Sunrise days and opened the Kusnick & Rothstein firm on Broward Boulevard in 1992.
So why was it so important that Kusnick suddenly have no affiliation with RRA, even though he clearly worked there and routinely listed his address at RRA's suite in the Bank of America building on 401 E. Las Olas Blvd.?
The recently filed malpractice lawsuit filed by car dealer Ed Morse against Rothstein and Kusnick (along with Rosenfeldt, Adler, Stracher, and Steven Osber) might help to explain it.
In the lawsuit, Morse basically alleges that Kusnick and Rothstein pulled a fast one on him while Rothstein was representing Morse -- and apparently swindling him out of him tens of millions of dollars -- in a lawsuit involving the renovation of his home.
At the same time that suit was going on, Kusnick was representing the Marvin Companies, which makes custom windows and doors and was also involved in a dispute with Ed and Carol Morse. From the lawsuit:
[I]n or around June 2009, while Kusnick purported to be a partner and member of the RRA firm, he represented "The Marvin Companies" and wrote a letter to Atty. Scott Rothstein, on letterhead of "Kusnick & Associates, Attorneys at Law" using a Margate address, in which he negotiated and "confirmed" a settlement with the Morses for payment of $310,000. This representation of an adverse party is clearly a breach of the fiduciary duty of loyalty owed to clients of RRA.
While the wording in the lawsuit is vague and imprecise, it's clear that Morse attorney Edward Pozzuoli is alleging that Kusnick and Rothstein cooked up this $310,000 settlement without informing the Morses that they were partners and helped to conceal it with Kusnick listing his business address in Margate under the Kusnick & Associates name.
A check of state records found that there was no business named Kusnick & Associates, but Kusnick did keep active a corporation listing the RRA address on Las Olas called Howard A. Kusnick, P.A. Where the Margate address, which isn't specified in the Morse suit, comes from is a mystery at this point (Kusnick lives in Plantation). I have left messages with both Kusnick and Pozzuoli and have yet to hear back from either of them.
Apparently Kusnick has found a new legal home in the Fort Lauderdale office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer (thanks to the commenter below for finding that). I left a message there for him. Kusnick is also named as a principal in a sports agency called Double Diamond Sports Management with his son, Joshua (who is pictured at right in the above photo). That company, too, lists RRA as its home address.