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Ponzi schemer’s real estate pals settle in Rothstein usury case

January 03, 2013 12:00PM

Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein

The bankruptcy trustee in the Scott Rothstein case has settled claims with two former associates of the convicted Florida Ponzi schemer, including two real estate investors, the South Florida Business Journal reported.

Barry Lipsitz, a New York City-based real estate investor and nightclub owner, and Domenick Tonacchio, a New Jersey-based real estate developer, settled claims that they loaned millions at interest rates of more than 500 percent to the embattled former attorney.

The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Rothstein’s former firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler  — which had offices in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tallahassee — sued the two for usury in civil and criminal court.

The settlement stipulates that Tonacchio will pay $4.5 million and Lipsitz $7.5 million.

Rothstein, who testified in the case himself, claimed he did not know if his associates were aware they were sending funds for a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme.

“The way that this was done, it appeared to me to be, on a good day, shady,” he said. “But you have to also balance that out with the fact that these guys trusted me. They were my friends. So for the life of me, I can’t tell you for certain one way or the other.” [SFBJ] —Guelda Voien