Rothstein defense attorney got pay raise to $500,000, forgiven $190,000 in loans last October
By Peter Franceschina
Marc Nurik – Scott Rothstein’s criminal defense attorney – got a pay raise to $500,000 a year and was forgiven $190,000 in loans in the final month of Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, Nurik testified Tuesday during a deposition.
Nurik came to the deposition with fortifications – an energy drink, a power bar and Fig Newtons – to answer questions from bankruptcy lawyers seeking to reclaim assets for creditors of the defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm.
The bankruptcy attorneys have filed lawsuits against several of the former Fort Lauderdale law firm’s partners seeking millions of dollars, alleging they were overpaid for their work and received loans they never repaid.
Nurik admitted he would regularly ask Rothstein for money to cover personal expenses.
He testified he can’t repay the $190,000 in loans he received after he joined the law firm in October 2007. His salary was $350,000 and Rothstein promised a $50,000 loan that year. If he brought business into the firm, the loan would be converted to a bonus, Nurik said.
Nurik said he lived rent free for more than a year in a Castilla Isles home bought by Rothstein for $1.9 million and didn’t pay expenses on the home, but began paying the expenses and $2,500 in monthly rent after Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme imploded in late October.
That month, Nurik said he convinced Rothstein to raise his pay to $500,000 a year and convert the loans into bonuses. He said he has yet to pay income tax on the bonuses and didn’t consider the free rent to be income on which he owed taxes.
Bankruptcy lawyer Chuck Lichtman asserted that the $190,000 was in fact loans, and subject to return to creditors. Nurik said he would be willing to negotiate repayment to creditors to avoid a lawsuit, adding he deserved the bonuses because he brought $1.9 million in business to the firm.
He said he was paid $50,000 by Rothstein’s wife’s family to defend Rothstein, but returned that money and is not currently being paid for his defense work.
There were a few testy moments in the questioning, but also jokes about Nurik having to sell gift law firm cufflinks and a pen on eBay to repay creditors.
Nurik didn’t know anything about Rothstein’s fraudulent investment scam selling non-existent legal settlements, he testified, and didn’t regularly socialize with him.
“As it turns out, obviously, I was not in his inner-inner circle,” Nurik said. “I didn’t socialize with him. I was not part of his group of friends.”
Rothstein, 47, has pleaded guilty to five federal counts of racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He faces up to 100 years in prison at his May 6 sentencing. He has been held in federal custody since his Dec. 1 arrest.