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Before starting the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm, accused swindler Scott Rothstein was kicked out of a law firm for lying to a client about filing court documents, the Daily Business Review has learned. Rothstein and Stuart Rosenfeldt worked for the law firm Phillips Eisinger Koss Rosenfeldt & Rothstein in Hollywood, Fla., before launching their own firm in February 2002. Rosenfeldt worked there for eight years and Rothstein for nearly three. Gary Phillips, former managing partner of the Hollywood firm, said he and his partners asked Rothstein to leave after learning he had lied to a client about filing a complaint and an emergency motion for injunctive relief. The client called Phillips to discuss the motions. “I went to look at the file and found there was no file,” Phillips said. “He told the client he had already filed these motions. We were very upset. I pushed to get rid of [Rothstein] after that.” Phillips wound up taking over the case and filing the motions himself, and asked Rothstein to leave “within a short period,” he said. Phillips said he did not report Rothstein to The Florida Bar because he concluded the issue “was not grievable.” Rothstein ended up leaving with Rosenfeldt and about seven associates who were part of his plaintiff employment practice. The departures came with a confidential settlement that Phillips did not disclose. Rothstein was arrested Dec. 1 and remains in federal custody after investors accused him of skipping payments on settlement financing arranged through law firm accounts. The FBI concluded the financing was a $1.2 billion scam. Rothstein attorney Marc Nurik did not respond to phone and e-mail messages by deadline. Rosenfeldt acknowledged that he and Rothstein were asked to leave the firm but said he does not recall the reason why. He said the attorneys already were planning to leave and had secured office space in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with the Stiles Corp. &quo;I was in trial when Scott called me and said, ‘They asked me to leave, but ha-ha-ha we’re leaving already,’” Rosenfeldt said Friday. “It was so long ago.” Phillips, of Phillips Cantor & Berlowitz, said he considers Rosenfeldt an “ethical guy who became starstruck over Scott. Scott was everything Stuart wasn’t.” Still, Phillips insists Rosenfeldt knew about the “issues” he had with Rothstein. Rosenfeldt responded: “If I was aware, I didn’t remember it later. What can I say?” Phillips recalled Rothstein as “a bright guy with a good legal mind.” “He could have been a good lawyer, but he didn’t want to practice law,” Phillips said. “He wanted to become a bon vivant.” Despite the incident, Phillips said, “I never would have thought Scott would become one of the biggest criminals in South Florida history.” Dennis Eisinger, who co-headed Rothstein’s former firm, is not so sure. “Scott’s communication skills were so good he could talk a rock into investing with him,” Eisinger said, adding he was unaware of Rothstein’s being involved in selling investments at the time. “He was very, very smooth.” Eisinger also doubts Rosenfeldt was “complicit.” “He was a very nice guy but so unsophisticated with financial matters,” Eisinger said. “I can believe he had no knowledge of the investments.” Rothstein’s lawyer, Nurik, has said investors will be repaid. Federal prosecutors have seized tens of millions of dollars’ worth of houses, boats, cars, bank accounts and jewelry from Rothstein, who voluntarily surrendered his law license when the investments collapsed. Senior Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Herb Stettin, bankruptcy trustee for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, is overseeing the wind-down of the firm. Legal experts say that process is likely to take about two years.

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