Florida CPA Firm Settles Suits for $10 Million

Scott Rothstein has agreed to settle two malpractice lawsuits connected to the scandal for $10 million.

Coral Gables, Fla.-based Berenfeld Spritzer Shechter & Sheer (FY09 net revenue of $22.3 million) provided tax accounting for Rothstein, his now defunct law firm, and for the top feeder in Rothstein’s $1.2 billion fraud, one of the funds led by George Levin.

Accoarding to the South Florida Business Journal, the settlement amount marks the limits of BSS&S’s malpractice insurance policies. The agreement was filed November 10, in the bankruptcy case of the defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm.

Settling parties include the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the defunct firm, Berenfeld’s insurer Lexington Insurance Co. and investors represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney William Scherer.

Those parties have agreed to a bar against further claims against the firm. The settlement also resolves all claims by the settling parties against Berenfeld employees Tracy Weintraub, Gary Berkowitz and Brian Leitstein, or any other employees or successors to the firm.

Investors, including Fort Lauderdale venture capitalist Doug Von Allmen, had alleged that the firm’s role should have made it apparent that Rothstein’s money was dirty.

But the accounting firm said it did not provide traditional book audits for the firm and stopped doing RRA’s taxes in 2009, when Rothstein declined to answer questions about the previous tax year. Rothstein’s crimes came to light a year ago, when he temporarily fled to Morocco with law firm funds. He was sentenced last summer to 50 years in prison.

In April, Berenfeld partner Emery Sheer called the investor lawsuit “a campaign of misinformation, misdirection and innuendo.” A firm spokesman said the company would not comment on the agreement.