Tuesday, June 16, 2009
7 News Investigations: Seidlin Lawsuit
An elderly widow befriended by former Judge Larry Seidlin has filed a lawsuit against the judge, his wife and her parents. The lawsuit asks for damages of more than a half million dollars. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with the story you will see on Just One Station.
WSVN -- Barbara Kasler is an 83-year-old widow who lives in the same Fort Lauderdale condo building as former judge Larry Seidlin.
Two investigations by state agencies of Seidlin's relationship with her have cleared him of any wrongdoing, but Mrs. Kasler's family disagrees with those conclusions.
Corine Kasler: "It is shocking because there's so much evidence there, and I know the questions they asked my Aunt Barbara. They should have expanded on all these questions."
So a lawsuit has been filed for Barbara Kasler. It claims the Seidlin family benefited from the wealthy widow.
Bob Bissonnette, Attorney: "There are all of these other financial documents that were not looked at before that we've now, just this week, discovered."
Bob Bissonnette represents Barbara Kasler. The lawsuit questions a number of financial transactions, and it says Seidlin "demanded a financial kickback from the person who wanted to purchase the home of Kasler's deceased son, Frank."
Bob Bissonnette: "Judge Seidlin befriended my client Mrs. Kasler after the death of her second son."
According to the lawsuit, in less than six months time after meeting Kasler, Seidlin was referring to himself as Kasler's son to third parties and began wearing Frank Gardner's jewelry.
Seidlin's in-laws named in the lawsuit are accused of paying Mrs. Kasler $300,000 for a condo worth $600,000 at the time of the sale. The complaint also says the Seidlins "used Kasler's money to buy electronics and impact resistant windows for themselves."
The former judge is also accused in the lawsuit of writing checks for more than $519,000 that Mrs. Kasler signed. In fact, according to the complaint, Seidlin told someone in his chambers, "I met a little old lady in my building. She's out of her mind, but she's loaded with dough."
The lawsuit also addresses the alleged use of Mrs. Kessler's credit card saying the Seidlins "redeemed the points on Kasler's credit card for a digital camera and for gift cards to local restaurants."
Mrs. Kasler took several trips with the Seidlins. On one trip, according to the lawsuit, Seidlin, his wife and daughter went to "New York City where they stayed at first class hotels and even attended a Broadway production of 'Mary Poppins' at Kasler's expense while Kasler was bedridden back at their Pennsylvania home."
Corine Kasler: "They were friendly to her. She trusted them."
The lawsuit asks that Seidlin return to Mrs. Kasler her son Frank's ring and gold bracelet, as well as a diamond tennis bracelet, estate jewelry and crystal, plus a computer and a TV.
Carmel Cafiero: "And the lawsuit isn't the only step the family is taking. It asked the Governor for another investigation. His office referred the matter back to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, and while that office says its investigations remain closed, it will meet with Mrs. Kasler's attorney to see what new evidence the family has developed."
Carmel Cafiero: "Seidlin's attorney David Ferguson points out that he has already been cleared by two separate agencies. He says he will vigorously defend the suit and expects to be vindicated again. Ferguson added it appears that the lawsuit is motivated out of malice for Mr. Seidlin and that he doubts Mrs. Kasler supports the lawsuit."