Thursday, May 14, 2009
7 News Investigations: Larry Seidlin
The state is investigating another round of accusations involving former Broward judge Larry Seidlin and his connection to a wealthy widow. A relative of hers wants authorities to take another look at credit card charges for everything from hotels to bagels. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has an exclusive look at the credit card bills.
WSVN -- Larry Seidlin and his family benefited to the tune of $467,000 from his friendship with a wealthy neighbor.
Barbara Kasler gave them everything from property to cash. A criminal investigation ended earlier this year with no charges in connection with the spending, but now take a look at this: 84 pages of credit card charges adding up to $115,000 over a 2-year period.
Lyn Evans: "Well, we were stunned."
Lyn Evans is an advocate who has been hired to help Mrs. Kasler's niece get to the bottom of the relationship between the 83-year-old and the former judge.
Lynn Evans: "Pretty much she began to believe they were her family."
The woman's niece, Corine Kasler, says at first she believed the Seidlins really cared for her aunt, but after seeing the credit card bills, she now suspects they loved her at her expense.
The credit card records reveal Barbara Kasler paid for plane tickets for Seidlin and his family several times in 2007 and 2008.
The airfares add up to more than $8,000, including a flight to Long Beach, California apparently for Seidlin alone, before he retired from the bench.
Then, there's $22,000 in hotel stays. From the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey in southern California to the Algonquin in New York to the Portifino in Orlando. Barbara Kasler traveled with the Seidlins and paid for accommodations.
There are another $3,000 in restaurant charges both here at home and while on the road. Those charges range from hundreds of dollars at a steakhouse to $4.85 for fast food.
Corine Kasler: "So these charges are very disturbing."
Corine Kasler, who talked with us by phone from her home in Pensacola, now has her aunt's power of attorney. She is concerned about the charges both for travel and for merchandise.
Corine Kasler: "I'm looking at computers, a computer, furniture, things that I do not see in my Aunt Barbara's condo that were charged to her, so we're trying to figure out at this point where those items are and who charged them."
Carmel Cafiero: "Last year, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office investigated Seidlin's connection to the elderly widow and took no action against him, and some of these same credit card charges were examined. A spokesman for the office says both Mrs. Kasler's accountant and her attorney indicated there were no problems with the charges."
But Corine Kasler has turned over the credit card bills to the Department of Children and Families, which has an open investigation of abuse and exploitation of her aunt.
Mrs. Kasler now has a new lawyer, and after reviewing the financial records, Bob Bissonnette believes this is "the most egregious case of financial exploitation of an elderly person" that he has ever seen.
In response to these allegations, Seidlin's attorney sent an e-mail to Seven News saying: "Each summer, Barbara Kasler traveled with the Seidlins on vacation, there were other trips as well during the year. Last summer, they were together for nine weeks. Part of the expenses were paid by Mrs. Kasler and other parts by the Seidlins. The same was true with a trip to California in 2007."
It is now up to DFC to determine if the former judge, best known for overseeing the Anna Nicole Smith case, violated his position of trust with the widowed millionaire.