The liquidating trustee for Scott Rothstein's defunct law firm is jockeying for position among creditors in the bankruptcy case of the owner of the former Versace mansion in Miami Beach.
Five former employees of Casa Casuarina LLC objected Monday to Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler trustee Michael Goldberg's claim for a $4.92 million equitable lien on the South Beach property.
The individual creditors, Alexandra Albu, Joseph Bonifacio, Michael Pospisil, Monique Alfonso and Ranko Salvujevic, maintain their combined $77,018 claim should be given priority. Their claim stems from a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judgment against the company in 2010.
Goldberg, chair of Akerman Senterfitt's bankruptcy and reorganization practice, last month was named liquidating trustee for the Fort Lauderdale law firm, overseeing the distribution of $180 million recovered from Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
Berger Singerman partner Paul Singerman, who represents Goldberg, wrote Aug. 5 that Rothstein acquired a nearly 10 percent ownership interest in the Miami Beach mansion through fraudulent transfers totaling $4.92 million.
Singerman claims Rothstein's money was used to maintain the 1116 Ocean Drive property, "launder money" used in his settlement financing fraud, cover Casa's operating shortfalls and make mortgage payments.
Messages left with Singerman were not returned by deadline. He has not responded to the objection filed Monday.
Miami attorney Morgan B. Edelboim of Bast Amron, who represents the objecting creditors, wrote in Monday's filing that the five already have had their claims determined in a court judgment, while Goldberg's claim for equitable lien has not been validated in court.
The creditors' "claims are based upon unpaid wages for individuals who worked at the debtor's premises and were not paid," Edelboim wrote. "Though the amounts may be small relative to other secured claims in this case, the claims are meaningful to the individuals who hold them."
Meanwhile, some or all of Goldberg's claim stems from transfers used to acquire an equity stake in the company, fund club memberships and hold events at the mansion, according to Edelboim.
"These transactions are not the type of transactions that an equitable lien is intended for," he wrote.
The 23,000-square-foot mansion is scheduled to be auctioned Sept. 17.
Edelboim noted the objection would "become moot" if the auction generates enough money to satisfy all claims.
A hearing on the objection is scheduled Oct. 2.
The landmark is the former home of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was slain on the front steps in 1997.
Casa filed its Chapter 11 petition July 1.