The Seidlin Family Circus

On one side, you have the politically connected Bill Scherer and his law firm, and on the other, you have Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, former state Sen. Skip Campbell, and Florida Bar President-Elect Scott Hawkins.

Welcome to the civil suit involving former Judge Larry Seidlin, who became a national celebrity/clown during his tearful handling of the Anna Nicole Smith case, and the elderly neighbor who is claiming that Seidlin exploited her to take a sizable chunk of her multimillion-dollar fortune.

Hawkins, Seiler, and Campbell form the core of Seidlin's defense team, representing the judge; his in-laws, Oren and Barbara Ray; and family friend Dorothy "Danni" Coletto, respectively. Hawkins just took over for Russ Adler, who was knocked out after his law partner, Scott Rothstein, was implicated in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Scherer is representing the widow, Barbara Kasler. Also involved is Lyn Evans, who has been working with the Kasler family for some time and has most recently been working as an investigator for Scherer in his suit. Evans is also a part-time researcher for the Daily Pulp and provided the video.

When Evans videotaped the wild proceedings at a deposition Friday at the Marine Tower in Fort Lauderdale -- where Seidlin and Kasler are neighbors -- Seidlin seized on her work for New Times in the video above. His blond wife, Belinda, chimes in, and it ends with Mayor Seiler's client, Coletto, flipping the bird.

Last night, WSVN reporter Carmel Cafiero aired a report on the depo and the case. You can see it here

Coletto is an intriguing character in the case. After I broke the initial story about Seidlin's alleged exploitation of Kasler, Coletto contacted me and told me that she had direct knowledge that Seidlin plotted to get named as an heir in the widow's will. She originally voiced contempt for Seidlin.

The next video shows Seidlin, Belinda (a former investigator in the Public Defender's Office), and their daughter standing by the elevator. Scherer's team claims the family is waiting for Barbara Kasler to arrive for an emotional "ambush." Notice how  

Seidlin puts his daughter, whom Kasler put through the exclusive Pine Crest school, at the front. The daughter was often the focal point for the transfer of assets from Kasler to the Seidlin clan. The family claimed they were only waiting for their own lawyers. The other side says they walked over there in anticipation of showing themselves to the widow. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

I'm wondering why the judge brought his daughter to the deposition in the first place. Kasler's crowd claims this was part of Seidlin's obvious plan to stir up some emotion for Kasler during the deposition. Understand that the judge became close to Kasler only after her son, Frank Gardner, had died. The lawsuit alleges that after Gardner died, Seidlin began referring to himself as Kasler's son and even wore Gardner's jewelry. Soon Seidlin began taking over major Kasler assets, including a condo, a $50,000 piece of land, roughly $500,000 in cash, and other goods, alleges the lawsuit.

After Kasler gave her deposition, Seidlin tried to get close to her, rising from his chair and approaching her, saying that he wanted to say hello and that he'd been "kept away" from her. Scherer's legal team stopped him in his tracks. Understand that the lawsuit claims that Seidlin used physical closeness and affection as a tool in his systematic fleecing of the widow. From the suit:

Seidlin spent an inordinate amount of time with Kasler in her apartment. Seidlin was overly affectionate and physical with Kasler. Seidlin would often publicly fawn over Kasler, touching her face, tousling her hair, and calling her "my baby."

Seidlin would sleep in Kasler's bedroom. He also showered at Kasler's apartment and would leave articles of his clothing at her apartment. When Kasler received sponge baths and was dressed and undressed by her aides, Seidlin often would not leave the room, but rather, would sit bedside.

Because of the pervasive manipulation and isolation of Kasler, she became totally dependent ...

Seidlin has responded that the allegations are false and "scandalous," and he's fired back with lawsuits of his own. Expect a trial, scheduled for the summer, to be one for the books.

-- In Broward County ethics news, the phrase "Broward County ethics" is still an oxymoron. At yesterday's commission meeting, Sue Gunzburger asked her fellow commissioners if they wanted to discuss putting any new ethics rules they come up with on a referendum to make them part of the county charter to make sure they endure. The response to her motion: silence. None of her fellows even seconded Gunzburger. Kristin Jacobs, where are you? 

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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