You'd have to be a cold-hearted S.O.B. to take back money that was donated to help needy families and starving children. Or you could just be one of the many victims of alleged Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.
In a move that confirms the Grinch is working overtime in South Florida this year, lawyers for Rothstein's victims said the money given to dozens of local charities in South Florida is rightfully theirs, and they want it back, reports the Miami Herald.
True, none of the estimated $1.2 billion in cash Rothstein tricked investors out of was really his so it should legally be returned to his victims if at all possible. But does it seem right that organizations that provide free or reduced-cost healthcare to the poor or provide drug-rehabilitation assistance to battered women have to suffer?
Rothstein donated about $2.2 million to local charities in the past year and a half, a noble effort until you read the fine print: he may have stolen it all.
"It's reprehensible that someone would donate money that has to be returned,'' Barbara Weinstein, chief executive of Family Central told the Herald. Rothstein pledged $25,000 to her group, which would have turned into $1.5 million with a federal grant that matches a large charitable contribution.
That's some serious scratch for a charity struggling to get by.
In December, 47-year-old Rothstein was arrested on five charges which included fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty but reports say he is on the short road to a plea deal to avoid a century in prison.
The prominent attorney had been implicated in the Ponzi scheme for about a month and news of his legal problems sent politicians and other influential people scrambling to distance themselves from Rothstein's financial support.
Many returned the dirty money, but cash-strapped charities likely spent the cash already to fund their programs. Too bad, said attorneys for the victims of the Ponzi scheme.
"We're going to try to work out a strategy that makes this as painless as possible and is as non-adversarial as can be with all these charities,'' attorney Charles Lichtman said.