By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
In a civil suit filed later, the Korns claim they had given Graham their personal financial statements in 1993 because Graham had agreed to help them refinance their home. Graham took their financial statements to various banks and used them to obtain commercial loans instead, they claim.
"Graham on several occasions presented Plaintiffs with guaranties to execute and merely explained that the execution of these documents was a personal favor or was 'necessary as part of your investment in Pirate's Point, Ltd.,'" the lawsuit reads. "Based upon the advice received from Graham, and without being provided the entire documents, but merely the signature pages, Plaintiffs unwittingly and without being advised by Graham of the true nature of the documents, executed several guaranties of third-party indebtedness to banks."
The guaranties signed by the Korns include ones related to MMI's $1.5 million Ocean Bank construction loan and another from Continental National Bank of Miami obliging the doctor and his wife to a pair of marine forklifts. "Plaintiffs are now being called upon by several banks to satisfy these guaranties," the Korns say in their suit. "The total indebtedness guaranteed by Plaintiffs without their knowledge and based upon the representations and advice received from Defendant, Graham, is in excess of $1.8 million."
As for their original $300,000 investment in Pirate's Point, Ltd, the Korns report that they received several monthly interest payments, but then the payments stopped for good.
To say the Pirate's Point partnership soured some friendships might be an understatement. The Korns, Etkin, and Goldberg wanted their money back and let their feelings be known. The Phillipses and Glists, on the other hand, remained hopeful about the Black Point investment and sided with Graham in the developing feud.
"My husband and I received numerous threatening, hysterical telephone calls from the Korns at all hours of the day and night wherein they stated that they would involve other members of the family and the hospital administration," reads an affidavit filed by Carol Phillips. "They further stated that they would stop all referrals of business from Korn's medical partnership to my husband and his partner, Robert Goldberg."
Etkin, who with her husband Goldberg invested $75,000 in Pirate's Point on March 10, 1994, says it took months for her to realize something was wrong. She says she hounded Graham to produce records showing exactly where the money had gone, but Graham made up excuses about why records were missing.
Finally, in early 1995, Etkin traveled to Black Point to review the documents. She says Graham produced only a month's worth of canceled checks from the marina operation and claimed that the rest of the paperwork was with an accountant. "It was such a baloney story it was just unbelievable," Etkin recalls. Around that time, Etkin says she discovered that Pirate's Point, Ltd. had never been established under law.
"It is extremely embarrassing for someone with eleven years of bar investigation experience to fall completely prey to something like this, but it happened," Etkin says, referring to the fact that she worked as a prosecutor for the Florida Bar, the professional organization that monitors and regulates lawyers, until 1992.
Like Etkin, Goldberg, and the Korns, Maurice Gozlan says he never saw the promised return on his investment and didn't get his principal back.
In the early summer of 1994, Marcos Morjain, the president of Reel Deal Yachts of Miami, began talking to Graham about buying into the Pirate's Point limited partnership. Morjain says he wasn't so much interested in owning a piece of the Black Point boat barn as he was in obtaining a Bertram Yacht franchise for Dade and southern Broward and establishing a Bertram dealership at the marina. In a letter dated June 8, 1994, Graham promised to use his "best efforts" to make the dealership a reality once Morjain invested $125,000 in Pirate's Point, which he did.
"If you, for any reason stated or unstated, decide not to go forward with the acquisition of a Partnership interest, then and in that event your deposit will be returned in full upon ten days written notice," Tamea Behrendt wrote to Morjain. An addendum to the July 6, 1994, agreement, bearing Graham's name, reads: "Said sum will be held in escrow until written authorization is given by the payer (Marcos Morjain)."
Morjain did change his mind. But when he demanded his money back, he says he began getting the runaround. In responding to a Bar complaint filed against him by Reel Deal Yachts, Graham had an interesting explanation about how Morjain's $125,000 vanished from his attorney trust account.
"The failure of Respondent to obtain written authority to disburse the monies deposited was an oversight," Graham wrote. He went on to claim that Morjain had given him verbal authorization to disburse the funds. According to Graham, Morjain had changed his mind about buying into the Pirate's Point partnership, but wanted Graham to keep the $125,000 as a "loan" and be paid a whopping $10,000 per month in interest.
Graham didn't clarify why he would be idiotic enough to borrow money at an interest rate five times higher than the worst credit card. "Because the interest rate was usurious, Mr. Morjain requested and the Respondent agreed, to couch the loan in a form that would not appear to be usurious," Graham explained. Morjain denies the existence of the loan.