A Coral Springs-based attorney accused of misconduct while pursuing thousands of cases against Florida insurance companies should be found guilty and suspended from practice for two years, a referee recommended after an eight-day trial.


Load Error

The state Supreme Court has final say for how Scot Strems will ultimately be punished. The Florida Bar, which petitioned for an emergency suspension that began on June 9, argued that Strems should be disbarred.

Property insurers saw the Strems suspension and trial as vindicating their often-voiced stance that misconduct by a dozen or so law firms, which they call “bad actors,” are abusing the court system by bombarding insurers with lawsuits that drive up insurance costs for consumers.

Strems Law Firm P.A., they say, is among a dozen or so firms operating as lawsuit mills that target insurers, often without the knowledge of property owners named as plaintiffs, to generate lucrative legal fees worth many times more than the home repairs in dispute.

Strems’ firm, which employed 20 attorneys in six offices across the state, filed 8,756 suits against property insurers before his emergency suspension. Of them, nearly 5,000 were filed in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

The Oct. 8 recommendation by the referee in the proceedings against Strems, Judge Dawn Denaro of the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami, followed a trial that lasted from Sept. 8 to 16.

Denaro found in September that the Bar had proven Strems and his firm violated 11 rules that govern attorneys’ behavior in the state. They include a rule barring attorneys from engaging in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, or from knowingly filing evidence known to be false.

Strems also violated rules requiring attorneys to represent clients with reasonable diligence and promptness, Denaro found.

Between 2016 and 2018, Strems’ firm had about 700 cases “which

The mayor of Rochester, N.Y., was charged with two felonies on Friday over allegations of campaign-finance fraud, dealing another blow to an administration that has been rocked by the police-involved asphyxiation death of Daniel Prude.

Mayor Lovely Warren is accused of unlawfully coordinating the activities of her re-election campaign committee and an outside political-action committee while running for a second term in 2017, Monroe County prosecutors say.

The Democratic mayor as well as the treasurers of both political committees were charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud and violate the state’s campaign finance law. Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said the case arose from an investigation by the state Board of Elections enforcement counsel, which looked into a complaint by Ms. Warren’s political rivals.

Ms. Warren has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Her attorney, Joseph Damelio, said at an afternoon news conference that it was possible mistakes were made but that there was no criminal intent, and the mayor didn’t intend to circumvent state election law.

Ms. Warren is scheduled for arraignment on Monday. If convicted of a felony, she could be removed from office.

The charges come after a series of tumultuous weeks in Rochester, the state’s third-largest city. Thousands of people have protested the March death of Mr. Prude, a Black man who died after he was restrained by Rochester Police Department officers responding to reports of a person acting erratically. Police placed Mr. Prude, who had a history of mental illness, in a spit hood and held him on the ground. He died seven days later in a hospital, and his death was ruled a homicide.

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Prude’s death only became public when his family held a Sept. 2 press conference and released police body-camera footage of his arrest. Ms. Warren said on Sept.

Sexual assault allegations against the founder and former chairman of Nikola prompted additional questions Tuesday about the electric truck startup and its pending deal with General Motors.

The allegations by two women concern Trevor Milton, who abruptly resigned September 21 amid accusations of fraud that had led to a big pullback in shares following the September 8 GM announcement.

Milton denied the charges through a spokesperson.

Craig Johnson, a Utah attorney representing the two women, said he was in contact with law enforcement authorities over complaints of unwanted sexual contact when they were minors.

Aubrey Smith, Milton’s cousin, alleges that in 1999 when she was 15 years old, Milton “groped her breast without her consent,” according to a press release from Johnson’s firm.

The second victim, who is unnamed, alleges that in 2004 when she was 15, Milton “digitally penetrated her vagina with his finger after work one day,” according to the press release.

Nikola shares fell again amid allegations of sexual assault against the company's founder and former chairman Nikola shares fell again amid allegations of sexual assault against the company’s founder and former chairman Photo: Nikola Motor / –

Milton “strongly denies these false allegations,” a spokesman said. “At no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone.”

Shares of Nikola plunged 8.6 percent to $17.64.

The company’s share price had been under pressure for the last three weeks following a report by Hindenburg Research that called the company an “intricate fraud.”

The report was released a few days after GM announced a manufacturing partnership with Nikola that would give the auto giant an 11 percent stake in the startup.

GM, which had previously reaffirmed plans to complete the deal, hinted Tuesday it might change course.

“Our transaction with Nikola has not closed,” GM said. “We are continuing our discussions with Nikola and will provide further

(Bloomberg) — Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton has been accused by a second woman of sexual assault.

a sign on the side of a road: Signage is displayed outside Nikola Corp. headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.

© Bloomberg
Signage is displayed outside Nikola Corp. headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.

The woman used to be Milton’s work assistant and was 15-years-old at the time of the alleged attack, which she says occurred in Utah, according to a statement from the law firm representing both victims.


Load Error

A spokesperson for Milton said he “strongly denies these false allegations.”

“At no point in his life has Mr. Milton ever engaged in any inappropriate physical contact with anyone,” the spokesperson said. Nikola shares fell as much as 5.4% to $18.25 before the start of regular trading.

Milton has had a tumultuous few weeks. He stepped down from his executive chairman position at the electric-truck maker after claims of deception leveled by short seller Hindenburg Research sent Nikola’s stock spiraling. He’s also been accused by his first cousin, Aubrey Smith, of sexual assault in 1999 when she was 15 and he was 17 — allegations he has also denied.

Both women are cooperating with law enforcement as their allegations are investigated, Provo, Utah-based firm Craig Johnson Law said in the statement. The second woman’s allegations were first reported by CNBC.

Hindenburg Research, a firm that owns a short position in Nikola’s stock and stands to gain from a decline in the share price, said Sept. 10 that Milton and Nikola deceived investors about its business prospects — claims that are now the subject of inquiries by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and, reportedly, the Justice Department.

(Updates with Nikola shares trading in the fourth paragraph.)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Continue Reading

An infamous Peruvian gold trader at the center of a multibillion-dollar money laundering case in Miami has died of COVID-19 in his homeland, according to authorities and news accounts.

Pedro David Pérez Miranda, 60, died Saturday at a hospital in Lima, Peru, after struggling with the coronavirus respiratory disease since late August.

His alias was “Peter Ferrari,” dubbed with that nickname by the news media because of his love for flashy cars, beautiful women and the yellow precious metal, gold.

Ferrari, who had been in custody in Peru before his hospitalization, was accused in a 2017 indictment of trading tons of gold illegally mined in the country’s rainforest and selling it to three Miami brokers at NTR Metals. They pleaded guilty to a $3.6 billion money laundering conspiracy were sentenced to several years in prison.

Ferrari, changed along with his two sons and a former bodyguard, had earned a notorious reputation as a suspected smuggler of “dirty gold” who used shell companies, straw owners, false paperwork and cash bribes to move the precious metal to lucrative markets in Miami and other parts of the United States.

Federal proseutors alleged that South American drug traffickers washed their illicit proceeds from cocaine through the unlawful gold mining industry in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, where Ferrari was suspected of acquiring most of his precious metal for export to the United States.

Once the U.S. government receives formal confirmation of his death, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami is expected to dimiss the single-count indictment aganst Ferrari. But his twin sons, Gian Piere Pérez Gutierrez and Peter Davis Pérez Gutierrez, and former body guard, Jose Estuardo Morales Diaz, could still be extradited for prosecution in Miami.

“When a defendant dies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dismisses charges against that person,” said