In 2003, Marc Levinson advised longtime friend Nevin Shapiro about his $1.5 million investment in a sports agency in Florida. Levinson was working for Shook, Hardy & Bacon, according to the Miami Herald.
Now, 10 years later, Levinson and the firm are at the heart of a lawsuit that accuses them of “aiding and abetting” Shapiro’s violations of federal securities laws when he ran a $930 million investment scam. He also violated NCAA regulations because of cash payments made to athletes at the University of Miami.
Levinson and the firm have been sued by the bankruptcy trustee of Shapiro’s former company, Capitol Investments USA. The trustee is trying to recover most of the $110 million lost by victims of Shapiro, who is serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to securities fraud back in 2010.
The law firm released a statement that said the following: “We will diligently defend ourselves in this case, and will continue our commitment to resolve any issues that arise in a reasonable, judicious and professional manner. Nevin Shapiro deceived many people, including those closest to him, and is serving a prison sentence for his reprehensible conduct.”
Joel Tabas became the trustee for Shapiro’s bankrupt company in November of 2009. Since then, he and his team have been able to recover $35 million and redistribute $13 million to 40 victims. There are more distributions planned for this year and Tabas’ firm gets to keep $11.5 million of the total take for its work. Other claw backs in the case by Tabas include the following:
- Legal fees totaling $400,000 from Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, Shapiro’s former criminal defense attorneys.
- $19,000 from Paul Calli, an attorney in Miami.
- $900,000 from Adam Meyer, a sports handicapper in Florida who sold game picks to Shapiro and placed bets for him in Las Vegas.
Tabas’ lawyers filed the lawsuit against Shook, Hardy & Bacon. Tabas’ lawyers are Gary Freedman and Andrea Rigali. It is based on depositions from Levinson, who has been on administrative leave since November. The firm advised Shapiro from 2003 to 2009 regarding his investment in Axcess Sports & Entertainment at the same time that he was a booster at the University of Miami.
The suit said that Shook, Hardy & Bacon “tacitly agreed with Capitol’s proliferation of its Ponzi scheme and Shook, Hardy & Bacon failed to ever deter Capitol from its additional borrowings.”
“Instead, Levinson actually encouraged Shapiro’s additional borrowings, telling Shapiro that he needed to make sure to get more funds so Capitol could stay afloat as Levinson knew that if Capitol failed, Shapiro would likely be prosecuted for securities fraud.”