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news 2010
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 2010

The Palm Beach Post - August 26, 2010 / Goodman called aide, not 911, around time of fatal Wellington collision, cellphone records show, By Andrew Marra

Goodman called aide, not 911, around time of fatal Wellington collision, cellphone records show

Goodman, the multimillionaire owner of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, has been charged with DUI manslaughter with failure to render aid and vehicular homicide with failure to render aid. John Goodman was released from the Palm Beach County Jail in West Palm Beach Wednesday May 19, 2010 with attorney's Mark Shapiro and Guy Fronstin.

The Palm Beach Post - May 21, 2010 / Goodman's lawyers aided state attorney's bid, By Jose Lambiet

Goodman's lawyers aided state attorney's bid

John Goodman, 46, was charged with vehicular homicide this week in connection with his role in the Feb. 12 DUI accident in Wellington that killed 23 year old Scott Wilson. Trust funder Goodman, who likes to surround himself with celebrities like actors Tommy Lee Jones and Hillary Duff, is credited with rebuilding polo into a widely followed spectator sport in Wellington, Florida. McAuliffe's the man whose job it is to put Goodman behind bars. Boca Raton Attorney, Guy Fronstin is the local point man on Roy Black's defense team. Fronstin, however, is familiar with the ins and outs of McAuliffe's office, which makes him an asset for an out of town attorney like Roy Black. And Fronstin personally knows Goodman's legal nemesis. A former Palm Beach County prosecutor himself, Fronstin was one of McAuliffe's most ardent backers. Guy Fronstin was a staunch supporter of Mr. McAuliffe in his campaign. Mr. Fronstin represented Mr. McAuliffe in several political gatherings when Mr. McAuliffe had a conflict and couldn't be there. Fronstin talked on behalf of Mr. McAuliffe. They are very close. Through Roy Black's spokesman meanwhile, Fronstin said he doesn't expect anything in return for his efforts to McAuliffe's campaign. As a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County, I was actively involved in Mr. McAuliffe's campaign. Fronstin's statement reads. Like any other citizen and everyone involved in the campaign, I was following my political leanings without expecting anything from the candidate except his exemplary service to those he is elected to serve.

The Palm Beach Post - May 21, 2010 / Goodman's lawyers aided state attorney's bid, By Jose Lambiet

Goodman's lawyers aided state attorney's bid

The attorneys defending Wellington polo mogul John Goodman in a vehicular homicide case that could land him in jail for 30 years contributed several thousand dollars to the campaign of State Attorney Mike McAuliffe.

McAuliffe's the man whose job it is to put Goodman behind bars.

According to state campaign records, Goodmans star defender, Miami lawyer Roy Black, made two maximum yearly contributions of $500 in 207 and 2008, the year McAuliffe was elected, as did Blacks law partner Scott Kornspan.

Boca's Guy Fronstin, the local point­man on Blacks defense team, and members of his family contributed a total of $2,500 toward McAuliffe's election. Fronstins contributions included food and drinks for McAuliffes fund-raisers.

Its not uncommon for lawyers to support candidates for the state attorney's office. All told, McAuliffe received thousands of individual contributions to his campaign, more than $500,000 total, with many coming from defense attorneys.

Still, Fronstin's hiring by Goodman raised eyebrows in the legal community here. He's known for civil work for 67 clients of swindler Bernie Madoff who lost a combined $250 million. Among other Fronstin clients: Michael Dippolito, whose wife in Boynton Beach is accused of hiring someone to kill him, and formerly, Palm Beach billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Fronstin, however, is familiar with the ins and outs of McAuliffe's office, which makes him an asset for an out-of-town attorney like Black.

And Fronstin personally knows Goodman's legal nemesis. A former Palm Beach County prosecutor himself, Fronstin was one of McAuliffe's most ardent backers, one who voted with his checkbook and encouraged others to do the same!

"Guy Fronstin was a staunch supporter of Mr. McAuliffe in the campaign."said Paula Russell, a Boca lawyer beaten by McAuliffe in the Democratic primary." Mr. Fronstin represented Mr. McAuliffe in several political gatherings when Mr. McAuliffe had a conflict and couldn't be there. He talked on behalf of Mr. McAuliffe. They're very close."

Russell said Fronstin's hiring indicates Black may want to use Fronstin's access to McAuliffe in negotiations for a plea bargain.

In all fairness, Russell said, there's no way around the fact that many defense lawyers Contribute to campaigns for state attorney and judge.

In an e-mail, McAuliffe commented that his job is to hold people accountable for their crimes, no matter who pays his campaign bills.

"Our decisions and actions in any case or investigation are not influenced by the selection of counsel," McAuliffe's e-mail reads. "Anyone's suggestion or expectation otherwise simply does not understand my role as the state attorney and my approach to the job. Our mission is to hold people accountable for crimes committed in this community. That is my guide."

Through Black's spokesman, meanwhile, Fronstin said he doesn't expect anything in return for his efforts and cash to McAuliffe's campaign.

"As a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County ... I was actively involved in Mr. McAuliffe's campaign," Fronstin's statement reads. "Like any other citizen, and everyone involved in the campaign, I was following my political leanings without expecting anything from the candidate except his exemplary service to those he is elected to serve."

Black, too, issued a statement about his firm's checks to McAuliffe: 'We were asked to contribute to Mr. McAuliffe's campaign, and we did contribute, as we have for the campaigns of judges and prosecutors throughout Florida for many years. We never expect anything in return. We know that candidates for these offices typically solicit contributions from the broader legal community not just our firm. We believe it is the obligation of lawyers who are familiar with the integrity and professionalism of judicial and state attorney candidates to support the most qualified candidate."

Goodman, 46,was charged with vehicular homicide this week in connection with his role in the Feb. 12 DUI accident in Wellington that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson. Trust­funder Goodman, who likes to surround himself with celebrities like actors Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Duff, is credited with rebuilding polo into a widely followed spectator sport in Wellington.

The Palm Beach Post - May 21, 2010 / John Goodman's defense team gave thousands to prosecutor's campaign , By Jose Lambiet

John Goodman's defense team gave thousands to prosecutor's campaign

The attorneys defending Wellington polo mogul John Goodman in a vehicular homicide case that could land him in jail for 30 years contributed several thousand dollars to the campaign of State Attorney Mike McAuliffe.

McAuliffe's the man whose job it is to put Goodman behind bars.

According to state campaign records, Goodmans star defender, Miami lawyer Roy Black, made two maximum yearly contributions of $500 in 2007 and 2008, the year McAuliffe was elected, as did Blacks law partner Scott Komspan.

Boca's Guy Fronstin, the local pointman on Black's defense team, and members of his family contributed a total of $2 ,500 toward McAuliffe's election. Fronstin's contributions included food and drinks for McAuliffe's fund-raisers.

It's not uncommon for lawyers to support candidates for the state attorney's office. All told, McAuliffe received thousands of individual contributions to his campaign, more than $500,000 total, with many coming from defense attorneys.

Still, Fronstin's hiring by Goodman raised eyebrows in the legal community here. He's known for civil work for 67 clients of swindler Bernie Madoff who lost a combined $250 million. Among other Fronstin clients: Michael Dippolito, whose wife in Boynton Beach is accused of hiring someone to kill him; and, formerly, Palm Beach billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Fronstin, however, is familiar with the ins and outs of McAuliffe's office, which makes him an asset for an out-of-town attorney like Black.

And Fronstin personally knows Goodman's legal nemesis. A former Palm Beach County prosecutor himself, Fronstin was one of McAuliffe's most ardent backers, one who voted with his checkbook and encouraged others to do the same!

Fronstin's Support

"Guy Fronstin was a staunch supporter of Mr. McAuliffe in the campaign." said Paula Russell, a Boca lawyer beaten by McAuliffe in the Democratic primary. "Mr. Fronstin represented Mr. McAuliffe in several political gatherings when Mr. McAuliffe had a conflict and couldn't be there. He talked on behalf of Mr. McAuliffe. They're very close."

Russell said Fronstin's hiring indicates Black may want to use Fronstin's access to McAuliffe in negotiations for a plea bargain.

In all fairness, Russell said, there's no way around the fact that many defense lawyers contribute­ to campaigns for state attorney and judge.

In an e-mail, McAuliffe commented that his job is to hold people accountable for their crimes, no matter who pays his campaign bills.

"Our decisions and actions in any case or investigation are not influenced by the selection of counsel," McAuliffe's e-mail reads. "Anyone's suggestion or expectation other wise simply does not understand my role as the state attorney and my approach to the job. Our mission is to hold people accountable for crimes committed in this community. That is my guide."

Nothing in return?

Through Black's spokesman, meanwhile, Fronstin said he doesn't expect anything in return for his efforts and cash to McAuliffe's campaign.

"As a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County ... I was actively involved in Mr. McAuliffe's campaign," Fronstin's statement reads. "Like any other citizen, and everyone involved in the campaign, I was following my political leanings without expecting anything from the candidate except his exemplary service to those he is elected to serve."

Black, too, issued a statement about his firm's checks to McAuliffe: 'We were asked to contribute to Mr. McAuliffe's campaign, and we did contribute, as we have for the campaigns of judges and prosecutors throughout Florida for many years. We never expect anything in return. We know that candidates for these offices typically solicit contributions from the broader legal community, not just our firm. We believe it is the obligation of lawyers who are familiar with the integrity and professionalism of judicial and state attorney candidates to support the most qualified candidate."

Nova Southeastern law professor Joel Mintz, meanwhile, says campaign contributions from defense lawyers to prosecutors give the appearance of impropriety.

"Whether they (contributors) affect prosecution or not, it doesn't pass my smell test," Mintz said.

Goodman, 46, was charged with vehicular homicide this week in connection with his role in the Feb. 12 DUI accident in Wellington that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson. Trustfunder Goodman, who likes to surround himself with celebrities like actors Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Duff, is credited with rebuilding polo into a widely followed spectator sport in Wellington.

Palm Beach Post - May 20, 2010 / Report: Victim left to drown, By Andrew Marra and Jason Schultz

Report: Victim left to drown

Multimillionaire polo mogul John Goodman, whose involvement in a fatal crash in February made him a lightning rod for community outrage, was arrested Wednesday after investigators concluded he was drunk when he knocked a recent college graduate into a canal. Law enforcement officials arrested Goodman, owner of Wellington's International Polo Club Palm Beach, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami. Goodman was released on $100,000.00 bond aided by his attorneys Mark Shapiro and Guy Fronstin.

NewTimes - May 17, 2010 / More Questions About Michael Dippolito's Finances, By Lisa Rab
New Times, For Worse

More Questions About Michael Dippolito's Finances

In between professing love for her California boyfriend and plotting ways to have her husband arrested, phone records show that Dalia Dippolito made some interesting allegations about Michael Dippolito's finances.

She told her boyfriend via text messages that Michael, who was on probation for telemarketing fraud and owed about $191,000 in restitution to his victims, could still afford to buy a Porsche, along with a mortgage-free, $225,000 townhouse.

Michael also paid $4,000 for a suite at an unnamed sports game in Miami last July, Dalia said.

"Tell them about how he was in Miami two Sundays ago for the game and he spent 4k on the suite, and invited someone who is also on probation," Dalia wrote to her boyfriend on July 28.

"Hes not supposed to be in Dade w out permission and not supposed to be hangn w people on probation."

Credit card records would prove Michael was at the game, Dalia added later.

Of course, any allegations made by a woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill her husband should be taken with a gallon of salt. Dalia, a professional escort who went by multiple names and spoke casually of planting ecstasy and cocaine in Michael's car, clearly had no qualms about bending the truth to send Michael to jail.

"lets get this mother fucker arrested i'm so tired of his shit," she wrote to her boyfriend. "If hes locked up I know he wont hurt my family."

Yet Dalia had a point about Michael's financial dealings. It's unclear why he could afford his house, fancy cars, and the more than $200,000 he told police that Dalia stole from him but he could not pay his restitution. One of his fraud victims, who invested $20,000 in Dippolito's foreign currency scam, receives restitution checks for only $8 or $10 a month.

Michael Dippolito's probation officer has declined to comment on the case. The Juice left a voice-mail for Dippolito's attorney, Guy Fronstin, this morning. We'll update when he responds.

Palm Beach Post - May 12, 2010 / Murder-for-hire suspect, lover traded steamy texts, Susan Spencer-Wendel

Murder-for-hire suspect, lover traded steamy texts

As if the police video of her allegedly hiring a hit man to kill her husband of six months wasn't enough, now come text messages thumbed from Dalia Dippolito's phone, pining away for her new love, Michael Stanley, and plotting with him to get Michael Dippolito arrested or at least to bankrupt him.

Released by the state attorney's office at the request of media, the text messages were exchanged between numbers associated with Dalia Dippolito and Stanley for a few weeks before the arrest of the former professional escort, who was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

Their texts, pinged day and night, fill nearly 49 pages.

Ones professing love:
"Dalia, i have alwys wanted u, ur my unicorn" read one message from Stanley's number
"I want u as the ancor in my life!, the hub, the center!" her number replied.

Ones about their physical connection:
"R U speechless do you want my hot tight body all over u," her number pinged Stanley's number.

And ones professing their desire to be together after Michael Dippolito was to disappear from their lives:
"The sooner he gets jammed up the sooner we can be in paradise island baby," her number pinged to Stanley's on July 27.

That was sent one week before Boynton Beach police filmed her plotting with an undercover officer the shooting of 39-year-oldd Michael Dippolito.

In the text messages, Dalia Dippolito's number proposes to Stanley's number "spoofing" Michael Dippolito.

Spoofing is the practice of arranging to call a phone number using a third designated phone number - for example, someone wanting to pose as a legal professional calling from a courthouse.

It appears Michael Stanley did so as he colluded with Dalia Dippolito, 27, to freeze Michael Dippolito's assets and win the Dippolitos' mortgage-free home in Boynton Beach.

Her number texted to Stanley's number on July 23:
"I need u to spoof the cll and tell him that he needs to meet ur paralegal at 2:30 at th courthouse."

Michael and Dalia Dippolito appear to have met the faux paralegal at the Miami courthouse, according to her texts.

"I'm going to be in a brite orange dress and mike in a yellow shirt and blue shorts," her number pinged.

In the days before her first meeting with a potential hit man, the texts between the two numbers are about how to plant drugs on Michael Dippolito and get him arrested for probation violation.

"Lets put his lying ass back in jail," her number texted to Stanley's.

As the days wound down, texts from Dalia Dippolito's number to Stanley's focused much on their future life together.

"We r going to make great parents and well have a nanny fulltime so we can still have fun and party and travel together," her number texted to Stanley's July 27.

Messages from Dalia Dippolito's number grew more melancholy, remarking how unhappy she was, how she must get out of the marriage and begin her life again with Stanley.

"I love you can't wait to im gettn so excitd about being in the city like the dream apt in sex and the city movie w kerri and big," she wrote.

By July 31, the two numbers were texting about the transfer of the Dippolitos' marital home into her name only.

"Did the tranfr but he said were married i cant sell it w out his signature even though its in my name," her number texted Stanley's.

Their messages from the day police filmed her with the officer posing as a hit man until the day of her arrest are less frequent, ones about pets and apartments, about calling each other. One of the final ones:
"About going to thailand," Stanley's number wrote to hers.

Stanley is believed to be a former love of Dippolito's.

Stanley, a project manager for the construction firm Mackenzie Keck, did not respond to a message left at the California phone number that texted Dippolito so often.

Dippolito's criminal defense attorney, Michael Salnick, declined to comment.

An Attorney for Michael Dippolito, Guy Fronstin, said Dippolito had no idea his wife was having an affair with one man, or more, and that he believed he was in a strong loving relationship.

"It was devastating to him to hear all of this, Fronstin said. Earth Shattering. He is now seeing a professional therapist."

Dalia Dippolito is out of jail and on house arrest. She faces 30 years in prison for her alleged scheme.

Fronstin said he is confident that if enough evidence exists, others also may face charges, including Stanley.

And what possible defense will Dalia Dippolito raise to counter the mounting evidence?

Fronstin, a criminal defense attorney, said he's sat through eight or ten depositions in the case.

"You can usually tell by now, by the angle of the attorney's questions," Fronstin said. "Thus far, though, I don't see anything."

The Palm Beach Post - May 11, 2010 / Graphic text messages of Boynton Beach woman accused of trying to kill husband are released, By Susan Spencer-Wendel

Graphic text messages of Boynton Beach woman accused of trying to kill husband are released

As if the police video of her hiring a hitman to kill her husband of six months wasn't enough, now come text messages thumbed from Dalia Dippolito's phone, pining away for her new love, Michael Stanley, and plotting with him to get Michael Dippolito arrested or at least to bankrupt him.

Released by the State Attorney's Office at the media's request, the text messages are between a number associated with Dalia Dippolito and a number associated with Stanley for a few weeks before the arrest of the former professional escort on a solicitation to commit first-degree murder charge.

Their texts, pinged day and night, fill nearly 49 pages.

Ones professing love:

"Dalia, i have always wanted u, ur my unicorn" wrote Stanley's number to Dalia Dippolito's.

"I want u as the ancor in my life!, the hub, the center!" her number replied.

Ones about their physical connection:

"R U speechless do you want my hot tight body all over u," her number pinged Stanley's number.

And ones professing their desire to be together after Michael Dippolito disappears from their lives:

"The sooner he gets jammed up the sooner we can be in paradise island baby," her number pinged to Stanley's on July 27.

That was sent one week before Boynton Beach police filmed her plotting with an undercover officer the shooting of Michael Dippolito.

In the text messages, Dalia's number proposes to Stanley's number "spoofing" Michael Dippolito.

Spoofing is the practice of arranging to call a phone number using a third designated phone number - for example, someone wanting to pose as as a legal professional calling from a courthouse. It appears Michael Stanley did so as he colluded with Dalia Dippolito to freeze Michael Dippolito's assets and win the Dippolitos' mortgage-free home in Boynton Beach.

Her number texted to Stanley's number on July 23:

"I need u to spoof the cll and tell him that he needs to meet ur paralegal at 2:30 at th courthouse."

Michael and Dalia Dippolito appear to have met the faux paralegal at the Miami courthouse, according to her texts. "Im going to be in a brite orange dress and mike in a yellow shirt and blue shorts," her number pinged.

In the days before her first meeting with a potential hitman, the texts between the two numbers are about how to plant drugs on Michael Dippolito and get him arrested for a probation violation.

"Lets put his lying ass back in jail," her number texted to Stanley's.

Dippolito, a professional escort, received texts from other numbers as well.

"Who is this?" she wrote.

"Wellhung kevin," the person replied.

As the days wound down, texts from Dalia's number to Stanley's number focused much on their future life together.

"We r going to make great parents and well have a nanny fulltime so we can still have fun and party and travel together," her number texted to Stanley's July 27.

Messages from Dalia's number grew more melancholy, remarking how unhappy she is, how she must get out of the marriage and begin her life again with Stanley.

"I love you can't wait to im gettn so excitd about being in the city like the dream apt in sex and the city movie w kerri and big," she wrote.

By July 31, the two numbers were texting about the transfer of the Dippolito's marital home into Dalia's name only.

"Did the tranfr but he said were married i cant sell it w out his signature even though its in my name," her number texted Stanley's.

Late in the day, to Stanley's number:

"I can't stop crying... I'm falling apart without u"

"U need to come to me," he replied. "U need to make it happen."

Then his number texts hers saying he has a "really crazy" story he wants to tell her.

The next morning she asks that Stanley call her.

Her next text, 35 minutes later: "Im still in shock over what u said wow i love you so much"

"Baby I was blown away, stars are lining up for us love!!!!" his number replies.

Their messages during the day police filmed her with the hitman and up until the day of her arrest are less frequent, ones about pets and apartments, about calling each other. One of the final ones:

"About going to thailand," Stanley's number wrote to hers.

Michael Stanley is believed to be a former flame of Dippolito's from when she lived in California. Stanley did not respond to a message left at the California phone number which texted Dippolito so often.

Dippolito's criminal defense attorney, Michael Salnick, declined to comment, saying he would only talk about the case in court.

An attorney for Michael Dippolito, Guy Fronstin, said his client remembers getting calls from a paralegal giving advice. Fronstin said Dippolito had no idea his wife was having an affair with one man, or more, and that he believed he was in a strong, loving relationship.

"It was devastating to him to hear all of this," Fronstin said. "Earth-shattering. He is now seeing a professional therapist."

Fronstin said Michael Dippolito has been pleased with the extensive investigation of the Boynton Beach Police Department and Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth Parker. He is confident that if enough evidence exists to charge others, including possibly Stanley, they will be charged.

Dalia Dippolito, who is out of jail on bond, could face up to 30 years in prison.

And what possible defense will she raise to counter the mounting evidence?

Fronstin, a criminal defense attorney, said he's sat through eight or 10 depositions in the case thus far.

"You can usually tell by now, by the angle of the attorney's questions," Fronstin said. "Thus far, though, I don't see anything."

The Palm Beach Post - March 6, 2010 / Tough on suspects, and his staff, top prosecutor draws mixed reviews, By Susan Spencer Wendel

Tough on suspects, and his staff, top prosecutor draws mixed reviews

State Attorney Michael McAuliffe, has been the country's top prosecutor more than a year now, succeeding Barry Krisher, who held the post for 16 years. Has he made changes? Absolutely. And has he shaken up people in the process? Absolutely. McAuliffe's retooled state attorney's office has taken an aggressive tack on exacting high penalties for offenders. Plea deal brokering is a whole new ballgame, attorneys say with prosecutors reluctant to strike deals over concerns that their new boss, described by some as a micromanager, might object. He has certainly made our jobs harder said longtime criminal defense attorney Guy Fronstin. But on the other hand, he has made our communities safer. I, personally, feel safer.

The Haven Appoints Two New Board Members - January 15, 2010

The Haven Appoints Two New Board Members

The officers and board of directors for the Haven, a group home for adolescent boys who are placed in protective care by the State of Florida has appointed Guy Fronstin, Esq. of the Law Offices of Guy Fronstin and Neil Meany, Director of Tiffany and Co. at Boca Raton to serve as Directors for a three year term. Fronstin, whose Firm concentrates on criminal defense, is one of Florida's leading trial lawyers with more than 16 years of in-court experience. A former criminal prosecutor for Palm Beach county State Attorney's Office, Fronstin was appointed as a special prosecutor for conflict cases and also served as staff attorney for National Association of Security Dealers (NASD). Respected for his legal acumen and support of humanitarian causes, Fronstin will be presented the prestigious Jurisprudence Award by the Anti Defamation League on March 10, 2010, serves on the board of the City of Boca Raton's Police Athletic League and has provided pro bono legal counsel to more than 60 Clients who were victimized by the Bernard Madoff investment scandal.

Guy Fronstin, Esq. Law Offices of Guy Fronstin, P.A. The Haven Board Member. "Too often, as a criminal defense attorney, I see at-risk children in the criminal justice system and realize how unfortunate it is, for all of us, that they did not have the opportunity to live at The Haven to develop the life skills necessary to become productive members of society."

Boca Magazine - December - January, 2010 / The Devil Made Them Do It, By Gaspar Gonzalez
The Devil Made Them Do It

Madoff

The Devil Made Them Do It

Bernard Madoff kept Boca in his crosshairs as he Masterminded a Ponzi scheme for the ages. Local residents, still reeling from their dealings with the Midas of Wall Street, discuss how the con artist turned their lives - and fortunes upside down.

In one portrait, the subject wears the devil's guise, complete with high collar and a red skullcap. Horns protrude from his head, and he has a long, knife-sharp ear. His heavily lidded eyes look down, and his mouth is fixed in a tight, subtle grin. He appears, if not proud of himself, certainly satisfied with what he has wrought.

In another portrait he wears a different uniform: black and gray prison stripes, with matching cap. He seems more like himself (although some would argue the first rendering does him more justice); the face is fleshier, the features more lifelike. As in the first portrait, he looks down. A Mona Lisa smile crosses his lips. he seems strangely resigned to his fate.

The jig is up.

The artist has dubbed the 11-by-14-inch pastel drawings "Before" and "After." A better title might well be "The Devil and Bernie Madoff," for, in both cases, that's who the subject is - Bernard Madoff, the architect of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

The artist is Boca Raton resident Bernard Hoffman.

"We invested with Madoff after my [in-laws] had been with him [as clients] for more than 20 years," says Hoffman, speaking from his vacation home in Pennsylvania. "We didn't have the kind of money [Madoff] was interested in, but my wife convinced him because of the family connections."

it's a familiar story by now: investors being made to feel as if Madoff, the Midas of Wall Street, was somehow doing them a favor by taking them on as clients, when really all he was doing was taking them to the cleaners. Most investors never even met Madoff. They would invest their money through friends or relatives or as part of a hedge fund or other collective. Hoffman was an exception.

"I wanted to see the man I was giving my money to," he remembers, adding that Madoff preferred checks - no transfers of stocks or bonds, please. Hoffman delivered his money to Madoff's New York City office in may 2006, and the two men met briefly. "He was magnificently well-dressed, well-groomed," Hoffman says, "and extremely cordial."

Other than that initial impression, Hoffman remembers little of his interaction with Madoff that day. Nothing profound was said. Nothing memorable happened. Hoffman just handed Madoff his check, thanked him, and left.

"I finally felt I was financially secure in my private life," says the 78-year-old retired advertising executive, who declined to be photographed for this story. "Until my son called me [in December 2008] and told me [Madoff] was arrested."

That, too, is usually how it happened for Madoff's investors. The end came not with a bang but a whimper. They got up one morning, poured themselves a cup of coffee, turned on the television and discovered they were a lot poorer than when they went to bed.

Almost 50 years ago, Hannah Arendt, writing about the Holocaust, coined the phrase "the banality of evil," in which she speculated that unspeakable evil could simply be the end result of a series of otherwise unremarkable acts; a man shakes your hand, pats you on the back, fills out some paperwork - or doesn't - and then one day, your life is destroyed. For the perpetrator, it's business as usual. For the victim, it can feel like being struck by lightning out of a clear blue sky.

"it's more of a psychological blow," says Hoffman, enough that he needed help from his son to pay off his mortgage. "The biggest thing right now is fear of the future." While he waits for the future to get here, Hoffman, perhaps trying to tell himself that he should have been able to see Madoff for what he was all along, draws portraits of his nemesis as Lucifer.

INFILTRATING BOCA RIO

Other Boca residents victimized by Madoff have similar stories to tell. All of them are trying to regain their financial and emotional footing. Not all of them are willing to be identified by name. Piecing their stories together, one begins to get a clearer picture of Madoff's impact on the community, the extent of his presence here and the enduring effects of the damage he inflicted.

"Bernie Madoff would occasionally come to Boca Rio," says one woman whose father was a member at the exclusive golf club. "When he walked in, he was like the President of the United States."

At Boca Rio, as at so many of Madoff's preferred fishing holes, it was his legendary aloofness that proved to be his most effective lure.

"The guy was so arrogant and cocky," she says. "Everybody was like a child around him; you know how a child puts a parent up on a pedestal? You just didn't go up to him. I mean, you had to have permission to go to his table at lunch."

Sitting in the Boca Rio dining room, gazing out over the club's lush 200-acre golf course, Madoff expertly conveyed disinterest in other people's money. "He made it seem like an investment [situation] that was very difficult to get into," says the woman, whose father was a Madoff investor for nine years, until he woke up to find his money was gone. "You were made to feel you were very lucky to get in with him. The more people talked about it, the more people wanted in."

Boca Rio, founded more than four decades ago, limits its membership to 150. Admission doesn't come easy; to even be considered, a prospective member must be sponsored by an existing member. Initiation fees and annual dues are not published (one source pegs the annual does at approximately $25,000). It was the perfect target for Madoff, an insiders' bastion where exceptionally successful people came together to congratulate each other on their good fortunes. Until, that is, Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008. "It's a small club and people are very close there," the woman says. "In the [days after the news broke], Boca Rio was like a morgue."

THE WOODFIELD CHRONICLES

Ronnie Harrell, who belongs to Woodfield Country Club, another prominent community in Boca disproportionately affected by Madoff, knows the feeling. "People initially were very depressed," she says. "When I found [what had happened to her money], I didn't say anything. I was scared. I couldn't discuss it."

Three generations of Harrell's family lost nearly $4 million dollars with Madoff. "My mother, who was paying for my kids' college, lost her savings," she says. "My husband and I lost all of our savings, and my kids lost all of their money."

For Harrell, investing with Madoff was a family affair from the very beginning. "My mother had a first cousin named Jerry Horowitz [who] was Madoff's auditor," she explains. "When my mother came into some money in the 1980s, she opened a Madoff account through Jerry. Then, in 1989, we decided I should have an account, too."

Woodfield Country Club is part of an extensive real estate development on Boca's western edge. It caters to a much larger membership than Boca Rio - Close to 4,000. Membership at the club is mandatory for residents of the development's 20 or so well-maintained, upscale suburban enclaves. Houses in the various Woodfield developments can go from as little as $400,000 to as much as $15 million. As at Boca Rio, Madoff's scheme spread like a cold in a kindergarten class.

"There's a guy here who got all his friends to invest, and they all lost their money," says Harrell. She often wonders why she never referred anyone to Madoff. If she had, we might have been hearing about it on HBO's "Real Time."

"I have a very wealthy cousin, Bill Maher," she ways of the comedian/social commentator. "Thank God I never suggested to him, 'Why don't you open a Madoff account?' I never did. We never got into anybody's financial business."

Compared to a lot of other Madoff victims, Harrell, a volunteer social worker whose husband is a physician, considers herself lucky. "My aunt, who is 68 [and who also lost big with Madoff], is a total wreck," she says sympathetically. "There are other people who've lost their houses, people who've gone back to work in their 70s and 80s."

These days, like a lot of parents, Harrell is more concerned about her son's prospects in the post-Madoff, post-housing-bubble economy. Alex, a former punter for the University of Florida football team, graduated last May with a master's degree in finance and, unable to find a job or internship, devoted a lot of his summer to playing online poker. "Maybe Alex will make a killing," says his mother.

She's joking. In this climate, that alone feels like a pretty big step.

PICKING UP THE PIECES

Stephanie Halio declines to reveal the extent of her losses, except to say that she and her husband were comfortably retired when the Madoff scandal broke. Life is different now.

"I went to school and got my real estate license," says the Boca West resident, "but it's impossible to sell a house in this economy. I'm not making any money. My husband [works] driving people to the airport."

Halio became a Madoff client almost without knowing it, through an investment group. Now, she's one of his most outspoken victims. In the run-up to the Madoff sentencing last summer, Halio Twittered about the media's failure to uncover Madoff's crimes earlier, appeared as a guest on PBS' "Nightly Business Report" to share her views on the legal proceedings ("We would like to complete the investigation of his family and all the other people who are involved") - and event sent a letter to the federal judge who sentenced Madoff, encouraging further action. Halio wrote that, although Madoff was headed to jail, watching his family spend his ill-gotten gains was like "watching the Nazis enjoying themselves using the property, money and other possessions that they had stolen."

Halio, though, believes that prosecuting particular individuals - whether knowing accomplices in the scheme or Madoff family members - is only the beginning.

"We need to start focusing on how we're going to clean up this mess," she says. "This situation would not exist if the SEC and the government had been doing its job."

She vows to advocate for reform in the financial sector, where, as she puts it, "ex-SEC employees who know how to get around the rules" may become the Madoffs of the future.

When she isn't speaking out, Halio, like many Madoff victims, spends a lot of her days trying to cope with life after Bernie. At press time, she and her husband were heading to the Hamptons, where they own a house teetering on foreclosure.

"We can't sell it," Halio explains, "so we might as well go up and enjoy it for a few weeks, before we lost it."

Recognizing that there's a limit to what evil the devil can take, she sounds almost hopeful.

Boca Magazine - January, 2010 Issue
Not Your Ordinary Guy, Boca Lawyer Guy Fronstin Offers His Services to Victims of the Madoff Scandal
Boca Mag

Guy Fronstin, Boca Mag

Boca Raton Attorney Guy Fronstin says that the phone calls began almost immediately. It was December 2008 and Bernard Madoff had just been arrested. Fronstin had a lot of Clients and friends who were Madoff investors. They were distraught. "[People] were in a complete daze," remembers the criminal-prosecutor-turned-defense-lawyer. "They weren't in a mind-set to trust anybody. They didn't know what to make for breakfast. Their belief in people, in good and bad, was shaken."

They did, however, trust Fronstin. There was only one problem. Given the magnitude of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, Fronstin had no idea how to begin addressing his Clients' concerns.

"I called the head tax attorney for one of the nation's top law Firms," he remembers, "and he was swimming in all of this stuff. I said, 'Boy, we're going to need some help here.'"

It was then that Fronstin got what he calls "an idea from above." He assembled a group of experts - investment counselors, tax attorneys, psychologists - and dubbed it the Dream Team. "We helped people find real estate lawyers," says Fronstin, who functions as kind of a quarterback for the team. "We even helped them find jobs."

At the time of this writing, Fronstin represents 67 former Madoff "investor-victims," mostly from Palm Beach County. Their losses range from $50,000 to $100 million. "You're talking about entire families being affected," says Fronstin. "The father and mother, who are 65-80 [years of age], their child, who is 40, and their child, who is 10." It's a predicament that strikes a chord with Fronstin, which is why he's offering his services pro bono. "My fee agreement," he notes, "is that there would be no fee whatsoever."

One observer, marveling at the role reversal, says: "Guy's a criminal defense attorney who's gone to the other side."