If you think you may be a Ponzi victim, then ask yourself this question: Is this abnormal insecurity?

 In all this security is there a sense of insecurity?

In college I was a psychology major at the University of Iowa. On my wall was poster with a simple statement: "Just because your paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Most visitors thought it was funny, I always saw profoundness in that statement. Maybe that's why I became a lawyer. But then again maybe I was just being paranoid. We’ll save that for another day.

Today I’m taking a break from the post I planned because it’s important we analyze the Ponzi schemer environment for those who would be future victims. Join me today as we walk the hallways and inner sanctum of the law firm of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. Like the admitted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff there are in many respects similarities to the way each constructed an office around secrecy and security.

You can read about the Madoff office culture by following this link.

The offices of RRA appear in many ways to be just a normal law office and in other ways like a movie set designed by a set designer suffering from paranoia. This is a law firm that practices law and that made its name on employment law; and yet the way it was set up you’d think they were charged with securing the recipe for Coke or Colonel Sanders original recipe.

The walls are lined with photos and letters extolling the virtues of the principal lawyer. They include Florida’s Governor, national politicians, celebrities, sports stars and letters bragging about philanthropy. Certainly a secure person need not brag about the good they do. To me this screams out “I need someone to constantly remind me how great I am!”

Normally law offices have some level of security that corresponds to the type of work they do. Our office being one of civil litigation has minimal security; mostly controlling access to the computer data files and paper files. I’ve visited criminal law offices that have some level of entryway security to screen entry to the firm. But I’ve never seen anything like this firm in Fort Lauderdale. It is the quintessential paradox of security vs insecurity. The workers must have had to be paranoid about having conversations anywhere. The security seems to be for one and only one person’s insecurity. At least that’s the way the YouTube video clips show it. There are microphones in the hallway ceiling alongside blackened camera lenses that record movements and sounds of anyone within eye and earshot. The secretarial pool is more of the same with seemingly innocuous metal plates in the ceiling tiles turning out to be not-so-hidden microphones. I’m left to wonder, if you didn’t trust them why did you hire them in the first place?

To connect with the principal partner, Scott Rothstein one needed to gain entrance to another locked section of the firm. Much like Bernie Madoff’s inner sanctum this one, protecting Scott Rothstein, was a system of security that created both the illusion of importance and provided a necessary relief from too many questions being asked. It reminds me of the saying; a good defense is your best offense. All of this and yet I get the feeling that the rest of the firm was busy doing the serious legal work of it’s clientele in a manner not unlike a normal law office.

Here we have a video tour of the inner sanctum of the firm; a look-see which seems odd given the fact its principal member is the focus of a criminal investigation and whether or not charges are filed civil lawsuits, that include the firm, can’t be far behind. Be that what it may, like driving by a car accident I can’t help but crane my neck to see the carnage.

Walk with the cameraman as he tours the hallways or Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. And take the time to read the emails someone has posted and alleged sent by the person who is the focus of this investigation. And note the themes of security and control. Access to the main proponent is strictly controlled. That limits information to those who might ask too many questions. To do this there is the empowerment of those desperate for access to a position of power they have not rightly earned. Everything about this says there is something wrong. From a common sense point of view it makes little sense. And yet it succeeds in fooling those who are used to following the crowd or who are greedy for a success they did not earn.

I often times talk about my years as a youth soccer coach and the deleterious effects of the participation trophy. The Ponzi Scheme requires participants suffering from the Participation Trophy Syndrome. (Give me something I didn’t earn; make me a winner when I’m really a loser. Increase my return on investment to a point beyond the market. Being simply rich isn’t enough; I want to be filthy rich.)

And again, read the email messages and ask yourself if this is what you expect from a successful attorney running a major law firm? Or is this the Peter Principle in full bloom.

One thing we can all conclude is that the Emperor has no clothes.

If you think you may be the victim of a Ponzi Scheme, a parent with a child in youth sports or just a parent wishing to raise a child with good strong character, then read more about the Participation Trophy Syndrome and Professional Misconduct on the Des Moines Injuryboard and The Verdict at the Lombardi Law Firm websites. Young adults with good strong character have been allowed to experience failure, to be losers and have learned how to pick themselves up and to win on their own two feet. As always I welcome your comments.

CAVEAT: And at this point remember that wrongdoing has only been alleged, no charges have been filed against anyone at the businesses mentioned and NO person has clearly admitted to any wrongdoing. All persons mentioned are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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