Amended lawsuit: Rothstein had help from bankers, e-mails show
By Peter Franceschina
The largest group of plaintiffs suing Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and his alleged co-conspirators filed an amended complaint Monday, adding more allegations and bringing the suit to more than 2,200 pages.
Additional plaintiffs who were allegedly defrauded in Rothstein’s $1.4 billion investment scheme were added to the civil suit, as well as additional claims of wrongdoing.
As with anything Rothstein related, the numbers are huge: The suit has now been amended three times and contains more than 2,100 acts of alleged wrongdoing against individual defendants, laid out in nearly 15,000 paragraphs. The amended suit, considered the lengthiest in Broward County history, added roughly 700 pages to the second version filed in April.
Some of the new allegations center on Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust, which Rothstein bought into for $5 million when it was taken private last fall. The bank has denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of Rothstein’s fraud scheme.
Gibraltar said in a statement Monday: “Gibraltar is sympathetic to victims who have lost money in the Rothstein Ponzi scheme. However, the investors filing this complaint were not clients of Gibraltar, and the bank had no dealings with them.
“Despite more than 2,200 pages of speculation, innuendo and inaccuracies, the bottom line is the bank had no knowledge Mr. Rothstein was defrauding anyone.
“It’s understandable that these investors in Mr. Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme are looking for ways to recoup lost money. What is not understandable is attempting to blame Gibraltar for Mr. Rothstein’s misdeeds. The bank is perceived by these investors and their attorneys as a ‘deep pocket,’ making it a target for those trying to recoup their losses.”
The suit alleges that Gibraltar executives routinely covered up for Rothstein’s overdrafts, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that the Ponzi scheme could not have flourished without their help.
Rothstein had a close relationship with some of the bank executives and used his influence, and large deposits, to get his way, the suit says. The suit cites several Rothstein e-mails to bank executives – reproduced here as they appear in the complaint, except for expletives – as evidence of Rothstein’s influence.
In a September 2006 e-mail to a former bank executive, John Harris, Rothstein tells Harris he is tired of being questioned about his overdrafts, according to the suit:
“If they are going to start putting pressure on us again every time the account is od from the previous nights pod they can kiss my firm, my consulting group, albert, ovi, ovi’s dad, roger, the Bahamas deal and all the rest that goes with me goodbye…I will not be pushed or pressured by the idiot’s in credit ever again. Not for one second. And you can tell them if they screw around with me I will be sure to tell every other one of their clients that I represent and that I am close to exactly what they are doing…that includes the levinsons and some other tasty accounts … I am running a law firm and I have way too much on my plate each day to worry about morons in credit who think I am evil incarnate and who have no clue how business is actually done. . . . You and lisa are great and I do not want anything to effect our relationship but after all I have done and what I have clearly proved I can do I will not put up with even the slightest level of [bull----] from them. You can tell them that they should be very wary of testing me at this stage of our relationship.”
Nov. 13, 2006, Rothstein to Harris: “Gotta love it … …and tell them to [f---] off… …not interested in their heat… …if they want my friends as clients they just need to deal with it when things get a bit dicey… …”
Nov. 17, 2006, Rothstein to Harris and another executive: “Johnny boy…..we need to establish a protocol with the folks in the gables regarding my accounts. Neither you nor I nor Lisa nor Irene needs the pressure they apply. … It sends a message that, in all candor, I find repulsive. They cannot be my “best buds” when we are cranking, and then forget my name when we have a blip on the screen…..even if it is a major blip. They need to chill. They can not be my “best buds” when I am doing all I can to refer the bank business and then forget my name when they fell like forgetting what I am trying to do for my business and their business. I bank with you because we treat each other with respect and because we understand the true meaning of what it is to be partners in something amazing.”
Rothstein continued, making reference to his firm’s contributions in the 2006 election cycle: “My firm was instrumental in getting the governor elected. My firm was instrumental in getting 38 other elected officials in Washington and other states elected this cycle. Our client list grows every day. And candidly, I am just getting warmed up…….and they can either hang on and enjoy the ride or I will find someone who will. I can not operate thinking that when the [s---] hits the fan, they will cut and run. Charlie crist shows up here…..I call you. I have a client that I think I can sway to change banks, I call you. I have a deal that I think I can steer your way…..ie. the Blandin deal that we tried to put together, I insist on you. The Bahamas deal….you. I think you can benefit from being in with my boys, you are in. We hit a bump, I always do what I say I am going to do. You do the same. But your superiors or the decision makers do not see it the same way. And candidly, their nonsense and total lack of respect is growing tiresome. Tell them to back off. They are either on the team and want my firm or they do not. There is no in between in this type of business relationship.”
Feb, 14, 2007, Rothstein to Harris: “I can not be bothered by them on a daily basis. I do not care if they are watching. They can watch all they want…..that is their prerogative. If they want our business, they have to deal with it right now. If they do not want our business, commerce bank has just flown its senior guy down from new jersey and they just sent us 30 litigation files and wants our accounts. …..overdrafts and all … The bottom line is that business that is as politically connected as we are is a hot commodity right now….new governor and all…..new appointments and all…..and the presidential election just around the corner with roger running mccain.”
March 11, 2009, Rothstein to Harris: “I do not believe that I am being treated as valued customer by gibraltar and candidly, it has grown tiresome. . . . i also intend to meet with stu and david boden in the morning to discuss ending my banking relationship with gibraltar.”
Rothstein, 48, was sentenced to 50 years in prison in June on five felony counts, including racketeering, money laundering and fraud. So far, only his chief operating officer, Debra Villegas, has been implicated in the ongoing federal investigation.