Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Miami, FL - Lawyer: R' Shmuel Advised Me To Turn In Fraudster, Saying "It Is Not Mesira"
Miami, FL - A recently published book by the North Miami Beach lawyer and real estate developer who blew the whistle on a massive Ponzi scheme in 2009 revealed that he contacted the FBI only after being guided to do so by Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky, putting an end to a $1.2 billion dollar hoax, the largest fraud ever perpetuated in South Florida.
The North Miami Beach lawyer and real estate developer who blew the whistle in 2009 on a massive Ponzi scheme sought rabbinical guidance before contacting the FBI and putting an end to the largest fraud ever perpetuated in South Florida, cheating investors out of over $1.2 billion dollars.
Alan Sakowitz, now 54 years old, had been looking for investment opportunities when a broker put him in touch with Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein, who offered a “100% return” on his investments, which he claimed were “virtually risk free”. After three meetings with Rothstein who promised grandiose returns but was unable to verify any of his claims, Sakowitz was relatively sure that the man who advised him to “buy a shredder and shred everything in both directions” and wore a gun strapped to his ankle was running a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions.
With connections in city, county and state law enforcement, Sakowitz realized that turning Rothstein in was a dangerous proposition, but as a religious Jew, he knew that he couldn’t allow Rothstein to continue perpetuating fraud on innocent victims.
His first phone call was to his Rov, who referred him to one of the most prominent gedolim of our day, Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky. Asking Reb Shmuel if he should wait and gather more evidence against Rothstein or go the authorities with the facts he already possessed, Sakowitz was told he needed to act immediately to prevent others from being drawn in by Rothstein’s promises of instant riches.
“Every human being is precious,” said Reb Shmuel, “and their money is precious as well.”
Reb Shmuel told Sakowitz that he had a responsibility to protect people from Rothstein’s fraudulent activities and advised Sakowitz to act quickly to proceed with extreme caution in case his suspicions proved to be incorrect and gave Sakowitz his blessings for the task he was about to undertake.
The 47 year old Rothstein was arrested a few weeks later and ultimately pleaded guilty in January 2010 to five federal charges of racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison in June 2010.
For Sakowitz, the story didn’t end with turning Rothstein in to the FBI. Wanting to caution people against investing their hard earned money in deals that seemed too good to be true and hoping to combat the anti Semitic backlash that surfaced after the case broke, Sakowitz wrote a book about his experience. Titled Miles Away…Worlds Apart, the book describes the difference between the worlds he and Rothstein lived in, despite the fact that from a geographic perspective the two men lived a mere sixteen miles apart. Sakowitz contrasts Rothstein’s world which was devoted solely to the pursuit of material possessions with the Jewish community of North Miami Beach scattering countless stories of good deeds and acts of kindness performed by members of the local Jewish community throughout the book.
Before publishing the book, Sakowitz found himself consulting once again with Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky.
“I brought the book to Reb Shmuel and he looked through it and told me to absolutely go ahead and publish it,” said Sakowitz in an interview with VIN News. “I wanted people to see what Judaism is all about. Judaism is about the way we live and the deeds that we do, not the trophies we collect on our walls.”