U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Raymond Ray. Photo courtesy of CandaceWest.com

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Raymond Ray of the Southern District of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale division plans to retire next year.

The judge will vacate his position on the bench effective at the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30. Ray was appointed in 1993 and then to an additional 14-year term in 2007.

As one of the few bankruptcy judges in South Florida, Ray heard many high-profile cases and took on the thankless task of picking up the financial pieces after Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein’s law firm implosion in 2009.

Ray supervised the recovery of funds for the estate of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler while criminal cases wound their way through U.S. District Court. The bankruptcy case had ties to the Versace mansion, John McCain’s presidential campaign, the Miami Heat, TD Bank and billionaire auto baron Ed Morse.

In August, Ray approved the $39.1 million sale of the incomplete Las Olas Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale after Chinese investors claimed they were victims of fraud under the federal EB-5 visa program.

Ray cleared attorney Chad Pugatch’s name after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found the Rice Pugatch Robinson Storfer & Cohen partner “abused” the bankruptcy process, instead finding no wrongdoing and concluding “the alleged misconduct only rose to the level of recklessness, at the most.”

The judge also approved the sale of the waterfront home of 1970s teen idol David Cassidy in Fort Lauderdale and Ruden McClosky law firm assets to Greenspoon Marder.

Ray was admitted to the Florida Bar after receiving his law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 1971 and served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District until 1974. Ray also has more than 20 years of military service and attained the rank of commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Applications to replace Ray are being accepted to fill the vacancy left by Ray’s impending retirement and must be submitted to circuit executive James P. Gerstenlauer’s office by Feb. 8.

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