Picture it: Halloween weekend 2009. As we go about our costume-clad debauchery rumors start trickling in that Scott Rothstein, Fort Lauderdale’s flashiest lawyer, is nowhere to be found and that his prominant Las Olas Boulevard law firm is collapsing. While this may sound dramatic, on Las Olas it really seemed the best of times and the worst of times. The best of times being that details of this fascinating story were revealed over the ensuing weeks with news crews camped on the street, FBI agents storming office buildings, and especially via Bob Norman’s fantastic reporting at the Broward New Times; the worst of times because we were in the doldrums of the financial crisis, the economy was shit, and I guess financial frauds tend to come to light amid such realities.
Local PR man Chuck Malkus has just released a book detailing the spectacular rise and shocking downfall of Scott Rothstein and his Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm on Las Olas Boulevard, titled The Ultimate Ponzi: the Scott Rothstein Story. Malkus held one of several book signings at The Parrot Thursday evening. Here’s the author signing our copy:
We are not doing a full book review here, as we have only read 50 pages or so after obtaining our copy last night (and yes, we read books out loud as a group, with different people playing the different characters) but the portion we have read so far is fantastic: the story of how a seemingly decent young man from a lower-middle class family with a relatively anonymous law practice in Plantation can use charm, dishonesty and crime to become the flashiest lawyer in South Florida, befriend the former (and perhaps future) honorable Governor of this great state, hobnob with presidential candidates, and even hang out with the faultless Dan Marino (oh wait).
Looking back, I’m sure part of the excitement we felt watching the downfall on Las Olas was schadenfreude, as everybody seemed to know that a lawyer cannot make that type of bank without the spectacular plaintiff-side victories like John Edwards used to obtain, and nobody had heard of Rothstein’s firm winning any such cases or even having major clients at all, so speculation was that the funds came from mob money or something similarly unsavory, if not illegal. We really did not have any idea. But damn was Rothstein flashy. He was the man on the charity scene, the polical scene, the restaurant scene, he even bought Versace’s mansion in South Beach. Not to mention all the hookers. But of course Rothstein was just running a series of schemes, including convincing otherwise savvy investors into purchasing laughably-phony legal settlement investments. We trust the rest of the book will further detail the madness.