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Two Inside Looks at Rothstein's Firm, Lifestyle

What was it like to work at the Fort Lauderdale firm of Scott Rothstein, the lawyer who now stands accused of running a Ponzi scheme that may have swindled more than $1 billion? Two sources offer inside looks at life inside the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

For Andrew Perez, it was somewhat mesmerizing, at least at first. He was just 18 years old when he arrived at RRA as an intern, he writes at the blog The New Argument. Imagine this as your first day on your new job:

My first day of work at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler was a unique experience. Scott Rothstein, now-accused Ponzi schemer extraordinaire, carted me around town in his Bentley Continental, stopping first at a local elementary school, where we met with Governor Charlie Crist, after he gave a short press conference.

Next, we ate lunch at Capital Grille, where Scott dined daily and had his own table. Afterwards, Scott reserved a bike at Eddie Trotta’s Thunder Cycles. Three years ago, Scott was on top of the world and wanted everyone to know it, including me, an eighteen-year-old intern.

Life was not all rides in Bentleys and meetings with governors thereafter, Perez writes. "From that point on, I actually worked and my contact with Scott was fairly limited." But Rothstein would regularly "strut loudly through the halls" and "make a small scene all over the place ... just to make sure you knew who you were working for."

Kimscott5Still, even this young intern had his doubts. Not long after Rothstein replaced one recently purchased yacht with another, even grander yacht, Perez half-jokingly remarked to a lawyer-friend, "I wouldn't be surprised if, a few years from now, we find that he's been running a massive Ponzi scheme." Without missing a beat, the lawyer responded, "You know, I've been hearing a lot of that lately."

Meanwhile, the Sun-Sentinel examines new documents filed in federal court this week that shed light on Rothstein's lifestyle and his management of his firm. "Rothstein's tentacles extended into nearly 100 corporations and businesses, according to federal prosecutors, from a California software company to a Pembroke Pines night club, as well as equity interests in two banks, a chain of fancy restaurants, a luxury watch business, a mortgage company and an alternative biofuel company."

The alleged Ponzi scheme not only supported Rothstein's lavish lifestyle, it also kept his firm afloat, the documents suggest. In one year, the RRA firm brought in just $8 million in revenue but paid $18 million in salaries. "The additional $10 million for salaries, as well as the other expenses for operation of the law firm, came from the operation of, and the funds generated, by the 'Ponzi' scheme," prosecutors said in court filings.

With Rothstein having all that money to throw around, you might think he could have bought himself a better costume than the Afro-wigged, tie-dyed hippie get-up uncovered by the blog South Florida Lawyers.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 24, 2009 at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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