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news 2009
Law Offices of Guy Fronstin
1075 Broken Sound Parkway, NW
Suite 102
Boca Raton, FL 33487
TEL: 561.447.4011
Email: info@fronstinlaw.com

Media News 2009

South Florida Business Journal - December 28, 2009 / Daxe of Madoff Strife, By Bill Frogamenti

Daxe of Madoff Strife

Like sands through the hourglass, thus slipped away the money entrusted to Bernard Madoff to invest. He preyed heavily on South Florida's upscale Jewish community in what's been called one of the biggest affinity schemes of all time. When the news of the scheme first broke, lawyers lined up to help victims. One of those was Boca Raton attorney Guy Fronstin, who summed up the challenge of recouping money. Fronstin said he was helping about 50 groups of investors, but didn't expect to recover fees or do legal work for all of them. It may take years to sort through the legal mess, attorney's said.

Palm Beach Post - October 21, 2009 / Police Arrest Boca Teen Posession and Transmission of Child Pornography Charges, By Eliot Kleinberg

Police Arrest Boca Teen Posession and Transmission of Child Pornography Charges

The lawyer for a 16 year old suburban Boca Raton high school student urged today that he not be prosecuted as an adult. The boy surrendered Tuesday on 10 counts of possession of images of sexual performance by a child and two counts of transmitting child pornography. The teen originally denied his actions but, when confronted with the images and a chat log, confessed he'd sent inappropriate pictures. He also said he had about 100 such images in his computer. Technicians found 115 images and 17 video files of child pornography, the report said.

Attorney Guy Fronstin said his Client had no previous arrests and is undergoing therapy. "My Client recognizes what he did was a violation of the law," Fronstin said. Fronstin said the teen is not a flight risk and had left the country, and returned, during the months long investigation. After the hearing, Fronstin said the boy should be tried as a juvenile.

SunSentinel.com - July 28, 2009 / Sexing Is Nothing To LOL About, By Missy Diaz

Sexing Is Nothing To LOL About

At least twice a week, Andy Marun said she saw the same scenario play out at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton: A younger girl sending nude images of herself to an older boy in an attempt to win his attention. And it always played out the same way.

"The boys would usually show the pictures [to their friends] and at lunch the girls would be crying," said Marun, 18, who graduated from Spanish River in May.

While teens and parents don't always agree on whether teen sexting - sending sexually explicit images of themselves, or others, via cell phone or computer - is acceptable behavior, most have no idea that it's a crime.

Under Florida law, each image is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The charge - typically possession of images of sexual performance by a child - is intended to snare pedophiles and other sexual predators. But teens who are sexting are caught in a loophole that could have life-changing repercussions.

And here's the kicker: Both the sender and receiver are equally culpable under the law.

Law enforcement in Broward and Palm Beach counties has investigated teens for sexting, though no one has been charged. Miami-Dade has had no cases reported.

"We investigate sexting like any kind of child pornography case, because that's basically what it is," Broward Sheriff's Office Detective Eric Hendel said. "We get calls when a parent finds material in their child's cell phone and they become inflamed. But they want to back off when they find out their child is just as guilty because they are actively participating in it."

Sexting has exploded onto the teen scene, according to prosecutors at the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office, so much so that the office is drafting a policy to address it.

"After that Orlando case hitting the papers, I see it coming down the pike," said Lynn Powell, chief of the juvenile division.

That Orlando case involved an 18-year-old boy seeking revenge on his former girlfriend, 16, by e-mailing nude photos of her in 2007 to scores of people, including her parents. Charged with sending child pornography, the teen now finds himself on the state sex-offender registry.

Last year, an 18-year-old Ohio girl hanged herself after being taunted by classmates after her ex-boyfriend circulated nude photos she had sent him.

Miami-Dade County schools hope to have in place an anti-sexting initiative for third through 12th grades when school opens Aug. 24, according to student services director Deborah Montilla. The multi-faceted approach includes working with state and local government and law enforcement to review existing laws and training for parents and school staff members.

Broward County middle and high schoolers will be shown a video at the start of the school year letting kids know that sending or receiving naked photos can lead to a felony charge and a possible spot on the state's sex-offender registry, according to Jeanne Jusevic, chairwoman of the district advisory council, a group that advises the schools on policy.

Palm Beach County school police will investigate any reports of sexting, but currently there is no curriculum specifically addressing it, schools spokeswoman Vickie Middlebrooks said.

"We're aware it's being done across the country so we're on the lookout," she said.

A study published in December by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 22 percent of teen girls surveyed admit sending nude images of themselves, compared with18 percent of teen boys.

Accompanied by a detective, Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Daliah Weiss speaks to students at middle schools - the age group that seems to be most involved in sexting - to let kids know it's a crime.

"All kids have cell phones and electronic access," she said.

Spanish River principal Susan Atherley already is planning her assembly topics for the coming school year and sexting, along with cyber bullying and the posting of inappropriate photos and content on social networking sites such as Facebook, is high on the list.

"We can't stop them, but we educate them," she said

After a report from a school resource officer, the Broward Sheriff's Office recently investigated a sexting case at Crystal Lake Middle School in Pompano Beach. Two teen girls sent pictures of a third girl, who had photographed herself in the shower.

"The parents were enraged that this was going on, but when it came down to it, nobody wanted any kind of trouble from the criminal-justice system on their kids - middle schoolers," Hendel said.

Over the past few months, West Palm Beach attorney Guy Fronstin has been retained by the parents of five teens, ages 13 to 16, involved in five separate sexting cases. In one case, a 15-year-old girl sent nude pictures of herself to five boys with messages like "Thinking of you."

Fronstin said he has worked with law enforcement to resolve four of the five cases without charges being filed. A fifth - a 15-year-old boy with numerous images of both acquaintances and strangers - remains under investigation.

"This is an issue that needs to be in a therapist's office, certainly not on probation," he said. "These kids don't even realize it's a crime."

Sexting is a result of mainstream acceptance of sexuality and a lack of "forced morality" by parents, according to local psychologist Stephen Alexander.

"There's a degree of sexual expression that's completely atypical of years past," Alexander said. "It's a direct consequence of having no uniform set of commonly shared moral values. Things are blurred for kids now. They experiment with sexuality with the computer and cell phone."

Bill Albert, of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, says sexting may be the gateway to more risky behavior.

"In our survey, four out of 10 said exchanging this sexy content in the ether makes dating or hooking up with others much more likely," he said.

State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, wants to look into carving an exception to the law so that teens aren't tainted for life as a result of a youthful indiscretion such as sexting.

"I hear stories like this all the time, about naked pictures being sent over cell phones," Aronberg said. "To those of us who grew up without cell phones, it's shocking. But the law should not treat it the same way we treat Internet predators if this is between two kids acting stupidly."

Earlier this year, Vermont and Utah amended their laws so that sexting by minors would be charged as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Several other states are considering following suit.

Albert thinks the key to awareness is parents, who might not even know sexting is on their teen's "menu of options."

Draconian laws or not, Albert cautions that teens are prone to act impulsively.

"It seems a great proportion who have done this describe it as a fun and flirtatious activity," he said. "They also freely recognize there could be negative long-term consequences. What happens here is classic teenage magical thinking. They're aware, but they don't think it will happen to them."

Missy Diaz can be reached at mdiaz@SunSentinel.com or 561-228-5505.

INFORMATIONAL BOX:

22%
Teen girls surveyed who admit sending nude images

18%
Teen boys surveyed who admit sending nude images

INFORMATIONAL BOX:

Prevent teen sexting

Sexting - sending nude pictures with a cell phone - is against the law. And the law makes no distinction of whether you're the sender or the receiver.

20%
Teens who have sent nude or partially nude pictures of themselves, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, per image.

Experts offer some advice:

Parents

Don't allow data plans on your teen's cell phone.

Know who your kids are communicating with and check their cell phone and Facebook and MySpace pages regularly.

Limit cell phone and laptop use. The National Campaign for Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy suggests having your teens leave their cell phones on the kitchen counter when they're at home and taking the laptop out of their bedrooms before bed.

Set ground rules about what's appropriate and what's not.

Teens

What happens in cyberspace isn't necessarily staying in cyberspace. Assume that nothing remains private.

There is no changing your mind. Anything you send or post will never truly go away.

The Palm Beach Post - June 30, 2009 / Deal is in victim's best interests, legal observers say, By Jane Musgrave

Deal is in victim's best interests, legal observers say

Most Madoff victims said they were appalled that Ruth Madoff gets to keep $2.5 million while forfeiting $80 million in assets. But lawyers who are watching the case said the agreement hammered out last week is ultimately in the victims best interests. She could have fought the government on all the assets and tied them up for two to five years, said West Palm Beach attorney Guy Fronstin, who has 67 Clients who lost a total of $250 million. It's really beneficial to the victims. She turns the title over and immediately the government has all these assets that will be used to pay the victims.

South Florida Business Journal - June 29, 2009 / Madoff gets 150 years in Prison, By Paul Brinkmann and Susan R. Miller

Madoff gets 150 years in Prison

Bernard Madoff will spend the resto of his life in prison and that has his victims celebrating. Guy Fronstin, a Boca Raton attorney said the government has been good about refunding taxes quickly but there are delays in processing claims to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Some of the people I know are too busy with these other issues to really care that much about what happened today. They believed he would spend the rest of his days in jail, Fronstin said.

Palm Beach Post - June 29, 2009 / Madoff victims vent at government, family on eve of sentencing, By Jane Musgrave

Madoff victims vent at government, family on eve of sentencing

Bernard Madoff will apologize for stealing billions of dollars from people who entrusted him with their futures. Scores of his victims will rally in Foley Square near the federal courthouse in Manhattan, waving signs and demanding justice. The government already made huge mistakes in this case by not regulating Madoff in the first place, said Guy Fronstin, A West Palm Beach defense lawyer and former prosecutor who is representing 67 people who lost a total of $250 million. So investigators are understandably moving cautiously to make sure that whatever charges they file will stick. Not only are his wife, sons and brother denying they knew anything about the long-running fraud, Madoff also has consistently said he acted alone. Everyone has been throwing Madoff under the bus, that's been the strategy. ronstin said. They have taken the position that our dad or our husband did bad but we're doing everything we can to help.

Moldova.org - March 17, 2009 / Madoff mansion said proteccted from seizure, By Jane Musgrave

Madoff mansion said proteccted from seizure

A homestead exemption granted to Ruth Madoff on her Palm Beach, Fla., mansion may make it make it harder for U.S. officials to seize the home, experts say.

Madoff, wife of admitted financial fraudster Bernard Madoff, filed for and was granted a 2009 homestead exemption on her $9 million mansion, which prosecutors are seeking to claim on behalf of the victims her husband's massive Ponzi scheme, the Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday.

Boca Raton, Fla., attorney Guy Fronstin, representing 63 defrauded Madoff investors, told the newspaper, They're furious about it. They are saying, 'We are destitute and she's still living a lavish lifestyle.'

The Florida Constitution provides that a civil creditor cannot force the sale of a person's homestead to collect a civil judgment, Jonathan Alper, an Orlando attorney who edits a Florida blog, told the Post. There is no dollar limitation so that homestead properties are exempt from forced sale by creditors regardless of how much money the debtor invests in his homestead.

Bernard Madoff, 70, pleaded guilty last week to securities fraud, perjury and nine other charges, and will be sentenced in June, prosecutors said.

Palm Beach Daily News - March 16, 2009 / Homestead Laws Could Protect Madoff Mansion in Palm Beach, By Sonja Isger and Charles Elmore

Homestead Laws Could Protect Madoff Mansion in Palm Beach

Federal prosecutors served notice Monday that they intend to go after Ruth Madoff's money for any role she may have played in her husband's Ponzi scheme, but property records show she has filed for and been granted a 2009 homestead exemption on her $9 million Palm Beach mansion - a move that could make it much harder for victims to collect from that property.

Investors burned by financier Bernard Madoff are incensed at the thought of her keeping the luxury home, Boca Raton attorney Guy Fronstin said.

"They're furious about it," said Fronstin, who said he represents 63 investors who lost a total of more than $200 million. "They are saying, 'We are destitute and she's still living a lavish lifestyle.""

Government prosecutors said they hope to seize from Ruth Madoff properties including the Palm Beach home, $10 million in home furnishings, a $7 million yacht in France, a $39,000 Steinway piano, a $65,000 silverware set, two Mercedeses and a 2007 BMW 530i, among other assets.

Ruth Madoff had tried to get a homestead exemption for the home at 410 Lake Way in 2007, according to the Palm Beach County property appraiser's office. She was denied because she already had a New York City penthouse that was homesteaded in that state.

But when Madoff applied again in September, three months before her husband was arrested, she had dropped the New York exemption.

On Jan. 12, her Florida exemption was granted, the property appraiser's office confirmed.

Ruth Madoff, 67, has held a Florida driver license since November 2006 and is registered to vote in Florida. She cast her last vote at St. Edward Catholic Church on North County Road.

Why does the homestead change matter?

"The Florida Constitution provides that a civil creditor cannot force the sale of a person's homestead to collect a civil judgment," said Jonathan Alper, an Orlando attorney who edits a Florida asset protection blog. "There is no dollar limitation so that homestead properties are exempt from forced sale by creditors regardless of how much money the debtor invests in his homestead. New York, like most other states, has a dollar cap on their homestead exemption."

Exceptions to homestead protection include when a person uses the proceeds of a fraud to buy a Florida homestead, he said.

Ruth Madoff is entitled to keep as much as $69 million, her lawyers are reportedly prepared to argue, asserting the assets were in her name and unrelated to alleged fraud. Peter Chavkin, a lawyer for Ruth Madoff, declined to comment to The Associated Press.

Bernard Madoff, 70, pleaded guilty Thursday to securities fraud, perjury and nine other charges. He will be sentenced in June and could be sent to prison for up to 150 years.

The Palm Beach home was purchased in 1994 for more than $3 million. There is no mortgage on record. Ruth's name is the only one on property records.

Most Florida residents seek a homestead exemption for the $50,000 break in the taxable value of their homes and the guarantee that taxable value won't rise more than 3 percent a year. But experts said that would be small change for the Madoffs. Their tax bill in 2008 totaled $157,142 on more than $9 million.

The real appeal, they say, is the way Florida protects its homeowners from creditors.

"Florida is universally known as a state that protects debtors," said Harvey Oyer, a real estate attorney with the West Palm Beach firm Shutts and Bowen. "We have historically attracted all sorts of deadbeats and debtors to the state."

O.J. Simpson is among the celebrities who moved to Florida and quickly filed for bankruptcy to gain protection from creditors. But it wouldn't necessarily make sense for Ruth Madoff to file for bankruptcy, because that would require offering reams of financial documents that victims and the government are clamoring to get, said Aleida Martinez­Molina, a bankruptcy attorney at Becker & Poliakoff in Coral Gables. "It really would be a feeding frenzy for creditors," Martinez-Molina said.

Even without bankruptcy, the homestead exemption throws up considerable obstacles to anyone who wants to collect money, experts say.

"Unfortunately there's a long history of Florida law permitting people to get away with that kind of thing," said Richard Greenfield, a New York attorney and part-time Palm Beach resident who said he represents 13 victims who lost about $300 million. "I'm sympathetic with people keeping their homes, but they shouldn't be multimillion-dollar homes. Some of my clients have lost everything."

Staff writer Jeff Ostrowski and staff researchers Niels Heimeriks and Michelle Quigley contributed to this story.

South Florida Business Journal - March 12, 2009 / Madoff pleads Guilty, By Paul Brinkmann

Madoff pleads Guilty

Bernard Madoff has pleaded guilty to 11 counts, including money laundering, fraud and perjury. Madoff faces a maximum of 150 years in prison. He will be sentenced in June. Until then, he will await his fate in a jail cell.

Guy Fronstin, a Boca Raton attorney doing pro bono work for dozens of Madoff's victims, said his Clients are feeling a roller coaster of emotions.

Emotionally, people I'm helping are so happy he's no longer in his palatial apartment and (is now) behind bars where he belongs, Fronstin said. On the other hand, they're extremely disappointed to find he's not cooperating with the government. Now they find out he's not really helping much, and he hasn't said, Here's where the money is.

South Florida Business Journal - January 12, 2009 / Bernard Madoff Scandal, By Paul Brinkmann

Lawyers hoping to help South Florida victims of the Bernard Madoff scandal have encountered some unexpected challenges, such as the need to help retiree victims find jobs and caution some to be mindful of their health. Boca Raton Attorney Guy Fronstin said he is helping about 50 groups of investors, but doesn't expect to recover fees or do actual legal work for all of them. One Client has to go back to work, said Fronstin, a solo practitioner who formerly worked for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This guy's money is going to run out in 30 days. I think we've found him some work.

One of Fronstin's Clients is Adele Fox, of Tamarac. She and her family members lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the debacle. Fox, a widow who formerly worked as secretary in New York, said she invested $50,000.00 in 1987 because she was related to Madoff's accountant, Jerry Horowitz.

I'm 85 years old, and I thought if I needd a facility, I would go to a nice facility Fox said. I'm probably in better shape than these very wealthy people because I own my condo and I have Social Secrity and a pension. Nevertheless, this is a big blow to me...This is the money I accumulated all my life. Fox has a fear of being targeted by disgorgement attempts because she received distributions from Madoff every three months (as opposed to someone who simply deposited money with Madoff).

In the coming months, authorities will be arriving at a formula to determine what amount of distributions represented benefit from the fraud.

Fronstin said another Client had to sell an expensive condo and move into a publicly subsidized apartment.

myShingle.com - January 11, 2009 / Solos Do Everything Biglaw Does, Only Backwards and in High Heels, By Carolyn Elefant

Solos Do Everything Biglaw Does, Only Backwards and in High Heels

Many large firms assume, wrongly, that solo and small firm lawyers don't handle complex issues. Truth is, many of us do. But unlike biglaw which has the luxury of researching and strategizing about these issues in a vacuum, we solo and small firm clients do all that, plus tend to our clients' needs.

Consider the emerging litigation arising out of Madoff's Ponzi scheme. As I posted over at Legal Blog Watch, at least a half dozen large firms have created practice areas to assist clients impacted by Madoff's fraud. However, while large firms are targeting and will likely represent the big fish – the large, institutional investors or banks who put money in Madoff funds and now face liability for failing to exercise due diligence — solos are representing Madoff's individual victims. In representing either large banks or individual investors, lawyers will tackle incredibly complicated issues such as unraveling complex transactions or developing viable defenses to liability or theories of recovery.

But whereas biglaw's job ends with the legal issues, as the Florida Business Journal reports, solos are also helping clients with the personal carnage of Madoff's misdeeds. Among other things, solos are playing the role of social workers and job counselors. From the Business Journal:

Guy Fronstin, a solo practitioner quoted in the article who is helping 50 groups of investors explained: "One client has to go back to work … This guy's money is going to run out in 30 days. I think we've found him some work." Fronstin is also helping his clients deal with the psychological impacts of the Madoff fiasco. One Fronstin client, 85-year-old Adele Fox, invested $50,000 with Madoff because a relative of hers was Madoff's accountant. Fox received distributions from Madoff every three months, and now she's terrified that she may have to disgorge that money if Madoff is brought to justice. Another client has been forced to make a substantial life change, selling an expensive condo and moving into publicly-subsidized housing.

In many ways, biglaw is like Fred Astaire – both great at what they do. But don't forget, in many cases, just like Ginger Rogers, we solos do everything that biglaw does, only backwards (in that we're often on the other side of the issues), in high heels (in that, we often teeter precariously as we strive to get the most out of our clients' more limited budgets) and with real live human beings to whom we're accountable. Can't get much more complex than that.

Law.com - Legal Blog Watch - January 9, 2009 / The Non-Legal Side of Practicing Madoff Law, By Carolyn Elefant

The Non-Legal Side of Practicing Madoff Law

A few weeks back, I noted the proliferation of law Firm practice groups dedicated to assisting the victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi Scheme, as did Bruce Carlton of the Securities Docket, who's keeping count. But as the South Florida Business Journal reports, some of the smaller law Firms representing individuals or small groups of Madoff victims are finding that legal issues are really the least of their Client's problems. A large number of Madoff investors were retirees, living in Florida, who are now on the verge of financial ruin and must make substantial changes at a time in their lives when they didn't expect it. As such, most of the small law Firms representing these Clients have found themselves playing the role of social workers and job placement professionals for Clients.

For example, Guy Fronstin, a solo practitioner quoted in the article who is helping 50 groups of investors explained, One Client has to go back to work... This guy's money is going to run out in 30 days. I think we've found him some work. Fronstin is also helping his Clients deal with the psychological impacts of the Madoff fiasco. One Fronstin Client, 85 year old Adele Fox, invested $50,000.00 with Madoff because a relative of hers was Madoff's accountant. Fox received distributions from Madoff every three months, and now she's terrified that she may have to disgorge that money if Madoff is brought to justice.

Another Client of Fronstin's has been forced to make a substantial life change, selling an expensive condo and moving into publicly-subsidized housing. Large Firms may deal with incredibly complicated issues related to the Madoff scandal, unraveling complex transactions or developing viable defenses to liability or theories of recovery, but solos must address the personal damage of what Madoff's actions have wrought. And to me, that's a far, far tougher job.