William Scherer of Conrad & Scherer. J. Albert Diaz

Bill Scherer has represented Douglas Von Allmen in matters predating the Rothstein litigation.

A wealthy investor in the Rothstein Ponzi scheme is suing his longtime attorney, Bill Scherer, over an alleged $20 million debt.

Douglas Von Allmen and his family claim Scherer’s firm, Conrad & Scherer, approached them to borrow millions of dollars in February 2010. That was a few months after the collapse of attorney Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion scam involving selling shares of fake settlements.

Along with other work on behalf of Rothstein’s victims, Scherer in 2015 helped obtain a confidential settlement from Bank of America for the Von Allmens, who claimed losses of $82 million. The family claimed bank employees knew the risks of investing with Rothstein and didn’t disclose them.

Conrad & Scherer was supposed to pay back the family’s loan in March 2016, according to the Von Allmens’ Aug. 28 lawsuit filed in Broward Circuit Court against the firm, Scherer personally and several of Scherer’s businesses that allegedly guaranteed the loan.

But the family claims it’s still waiting for the $19.7 million it’s owed, which does not count interest or attorney fees and costs, according to the lawsuit. The Von Allmens are asking Broward Circuit Judge Marina Garcia-Wood to enter judgment against the defendants for the total amount of the alleged debt and reinstate promissory notes that were allegedly lost. They also filed a motion to appoint a receiver.

“We do not believe the firm has sufficient liquid cash assets to repay our debt,” said Paul Turner, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “As for the remaining obligors, we requested financial information that would address this issue but Mr. Scherer refused to provide it.”

Scherer has represented Von Allmen in matters predating the Rothstein litigation, Turner said, and the two are friends.

“Our client engaged in direct discussion regarding this debt with Mr. Scherer and his representatives,” Turner said. “Based on those conversations, it was clear that Mr. Scherer and his firm were unwilling to propose a meaningful voluntary repayment plan.”

In a statement, Conrad & Scherer said it intends to prove in court that any obligations between the parties were satisfied, and possibly fight back with a defamation lawsuit.

“It is disappointing that after unprecedented recoveries for Mr. Von Allmen over the past eight years, he has chosen to exploit the attorney/client privilege that he currently enjoys,” the statement said. “That said, we are not going to let him defame our founder and our firm. We are currently exploring all legal remedies against Mr. Von Allmen including defamation.”

The firm disputed any implication that it can’t pay its debts, saying “contrary to Mr. Von Allmen’s false allegations against the firm, Conrad & Scherer has enjoyed some of its best years in its 40-plus year history and will continue to provide high quality legal representation for its valued clients.”

Conrad & Scherer calls the case a “complex business dispute,” but Turner disagreed.

“Bottom line, Mr. Scherer and his firm borrowed money and the documents evidencing the loan expressly delineated the terms of repayment,” he said. “Thus, the complexity he wants to exist is belied by the documents. Finally, what Mr. Scherer still fails to grasp is that the attorney-client relationship is not what’s at issue in this suit. My client is a creditor; Mr. Scherer and his firm are the debtors.”

The lawsuit was filed by Turner, Jonathan Feldman, D. Porpoise Evans and Christopher Perre of Perlman, Bajandas, Yevoli & Albright in Fort Lauderdale.