The Real Deal Miami

Former offices of South Florida’s biggest Ponzi schemer now available to lease

The office space is in downtown Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas City Centre
By Keith Larsen | May 11, 2018 02:30PM

Las Olas City Centre (Credit: Public Domain Pictures)

The space once held a massive aquarium, a private elevator and was protected by a high-tech security system in what a U.S. Attorney called “the structure of a secretive man.”

The former offices of one of South Florida’s most well-known convicted Ponzi schemers and a beleaguered bankrupt insurance company are now available for lease in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The 36,537 square feet of office space on the 15th and 16th floors of Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas City Centre is up for grabs because its last tenant, Patriot National, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company’s lease was officially rejected by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in April. Timothy Talbot, president of ComReal Fort Lauderdale, which is marketing the space, confirmed that Patriot National has moved out.

The Las Olas City Centre’s 16th floor was once occupied by the law offices of Scott Rothstein, who was convicted of running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme in 2009 and is now serving a 50-year jail sentence. Rothstein’s lavish office had a private elevator to a secure parking lot and extensive security system where visitors needed to use an intercom to enter his suite. Former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey narrated a video tour for the media that is on YouTube, in which he outlined the secrecy of Rothstein’s office.

Built in 2002, the Las Olas City Centre is a 23-story, 408,079-square-foot building in downtown Fort Lauderdale at 401 East Las Olas Boulevard.

Patriot National’s rent for the space was $104,982.90 per month and its lease was supposed to extend until February 28, 2019, according to its bankruptcy filing.

The insurance services company was the building’s second biggest tenant after Bank of America, data from CoStar shows. “We have a lot of interested prospects and are optimistic that we will lease the space soon,” Talbot said via email.

Founded by Fort Lauderdale businessman Steven Mariano in 2003, Patriot National provided back office and administrative services for worker’s compensation insurance companies.

Patriot National went public in January 2015 and was one of South Florida’s fastest growing companies. It began experiencing financial challenges, however, when its biggest customer, an insurance company also owned by Mariano called Guarantee Insurance Co., was deemed to be insolvent by regulators in November.

Florida insurance regulators also said that Guarantee Insurance Co. systematically transferred at least $15.74 million to Mariano with “no documented business purpose.”

Patriot National was then acquired by its two biggest creditors and announced it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware finally approved its reorganization plan this week.

Mariano was well known in Fort Lauderdale’s social scene, donating millions of dollars to local charities and universities as well as hosting parties on his $32.3 million, 187-foot mega-yacht known as Lady Sara.

Lady Sara’s previous owner? A wealthy investor named Douglas Von Allmen who lost a reported $70 million in Scott Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme.