Marc Nurik, Scott Rothstein's criminal defense attorney, got a pay raise to $500,000 a year and was forgiven $190,000 in loans in the final month of Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, Nurik testified Tuesday during a deposition.
Equipped with an energy drink, a power bar and Fig Newtons, Nurik came prepared to answer questions from lawyers seeking to reclaim assets for creditors of the defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm.
Nurik admitted he regularly asked Rothstein for money to cover personal expenses.
Under oath, he said he can't repay the $190,000 in loans he received after he joined the firm in October 2007. He also said he lived free for more than a year in a Fort Lauderdale home bought by Rothstein for $1.9 million, but began paying $2,500 a month in rent after Rothstein's Ponzi scheme imploded in October.
That same month, Nurik said he convinced Rothstein to raise his pay from $350,000 to $500,000 a year and convert the loans into bonuses.
Bankruptcy lawyer Chuck Lichtman asserted that the $190,000 was in fact loans, and subject to return to creditors. Nurik said he was willing to negotiate repayment to avoid a lawsuit, but said he had deserved the bonuses because he brought $1.9 million in business to the firm.
Nurik said he was paid $50,000 by Rothstein's wife's family to defend Rothstein, but returned the money and is currently not being paid for his defense work.
Rothstein, 47, has pleaded guilty to five federal counts of racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He faces up to 100 years in prison at his May 6 sentencing.
Nurik testified he didn't know anything about his client's fraudulent investment scheme selling non-existent legal settlements, and that didn't regularly socialize with him.
"As it turns out, obviously, I was not in his inner-inner circle," Nurik said. "I was not part of his group of friends."