Self-professed dirty trickster and longtime Trump ally Roger J. Stone Jr. is no stranger to legal battles, having already faced three major civil lawsuits in South Florida courtrooms.
In February 2008, Virginia-based political advocacy group Citizens United filed a trademark suit against Stone, along with Jeffrey M. Jones and a suspiciously similar-sounding group the pair had founded — Citizens United Not Timid. The complaint accused the defendants of deliberately using the Citizens United name to sell goods and provide “virtually identical services.”
Citizens United had recently released a right-leaning documentary about Hillary Clinton called “Hillary: the Movie,” while Stone’s group was also Clinton-opposed, selling T-shirts “bearing a vulgar and obscene logo,” according to the complaint.
After two months of legal back-and-forth, Stone conceded and reportedly told the New Yorker at the time, “We spent a whole half a day in court on this stupid thing. And at the end of the day I announced that I had a new name: Citizens Uniformly Not Timid.”
Plaintiffs counsel Alexander Angueira and defense counsel Gustavo Sardiña, did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.
Stone was hit with another lawsuit in June 2011, when he and his company, Drake Ventures, faced clawback litigation from the trustee in a South Florida bankruptcy case — but not just any old bankruptcy case.
It stemmed from one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history, ran by now-disbarred Broward lawyer Scott Rothstein, who’s serving a 50-year prison sentence. Rothstein used his law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, to cultivate a $1.2 billion criminal enterprise, which collapsed in 2009 and catapulted the firm into bankruptcy.
According to the lawsuit, Rothstein had sent about $400,000 to Stone and his company, allegedly for political consultancy work between 2006 and 2009.
The trustee sought to recover that money because it was preferential, meaning that Stone “held Scott Rothstein’s attention better than other creditors did,” as Fort Lauderdale lawyer Bart A. Houston put it. Houston represented Stone and several other defendants facing similar clawback suits.
Because the money came from Rothstein, not his law firm, the trustee was entitled to a fraudulent transfer recovery.
Stone argued that the transfer was made in good faith — from his end, at least — and claimed he should be able to keep it.
Fort Lauderdale lawyer Charles ”Chuck” Lichtman of Berger Singerman, who represented the trustee, said Stone’s was no different from any of the other fraudulent transfer cases he’s handled.
Houston agreed the case was relatively unremarkable, with just one unusual aspect.
“Roger Stone asked me if he could meet with the main trial lawyer alone, which is very unusual,” Houston said. “And he, in fact, met with the trial lawyer Chuck Lichtman, and lo and behold it got settled for very small dollars, so I don’t know what happened there.”
The suit asked for $400,000, but Stone settled for just $18,000.
According to Lichtman, the settlement was low because it was realistic. Stone was relatively cash-poor at the time, with more than $1 million in tax liens against him, few assets and not much political work.
“It was a matter of math,” said Lichtman, who said he worked directly with Stone to negotiate the settlement because Stone couldn’t really afford a lawyer. Plus, it was an efficient way of dealing with a potentially difficult litigant.
“I knew that Roger would be tricky to deal with,” Lichtman said. “The nature of my practice is dealing with complicated people and situations.”
“There were, of course, some testy moments where I would ask for more than he wanted to pay, but we actually got along pretty well and we resolved it professionally,” Lichtman added. “I don’t like his politics, but in terms of his dealings with me, I never had a real problem with him.”
Boca Raton lawyer Marc S. Nurik represented Rothstein in the case, and did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.
In March 2018, Chinese billionaire, whistleblower and asylum seeker Guo Wengui, also known as Miles Kwok, sued Stone over statements he made in 2017 to far-right commentary website InfoWars, run by Alex Jones.
According to the complaint, which asked for $100 million in damages and labeled Stone a conspiracy theorist, Stone falsely claimed that Wengui had been convicted of financial crimes in the U.S.
Stone also claimed Wengui gave donations to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and political strategist Steve Bannon, something foreign nationals are prohibited from doing.
The complaint cited one instance where Stone labeled Wengui “a bundler for Hillary Clinton,” and accused him of being “very closely affiliated with some radical Islamic interests.”
Stone answered the complaint in June 2018, denying the allegations and leaning on the First Amendment, adding that he believed his statements were true at the time.
The suit settled in December 2018, with Stone apologizing for making false statements about a Chinese businessman. The settlement saw Stone agree to publish his apology on his social media accounts and through advertisements in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
Read the full settlement agreement:
Wengui’s lawyer in New Jersey, Aaron A. Mitchell of Cohen & Howard, said it was a case of misinformation, fed to Stone by another former Trump adviser, Sam Nunberg.
“To [Stone's] credit, when he found out that information was untrue, he reached out to my client to see how he could resolve the matter,” Mitchell said.
Stone’s attorney, Bruce Rogow in Fort Lauderdale, said the case was nothing out of the ordinary.
“From a litigator’s perspective, the case was an example of how candor and mutual respect by lawyers can, and should, resolve matters without extensive and expensive conflict,” Rogow said.
Rogow has also taken the lead in defending Stone against the criminal case filed Jan. 24, alleging Stone lied to federal investigators and tampered with witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.