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In a bizarre motion, Soven alleged that former town manager Ed Rodriguez, who resigned suddenly in July; Stephen Cypen and Steven Ginsburg, two private attorneys who work for the town; and others, engaged in a "conspiracy scheme" to use code violations to force out the owners of the six houses and take possession of the properties. "Steven Ginsburg is now under criminal investigation by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida," the motion states. Because the probe is somehow related to the present case, the judge should remove Ginsburg from it, the motion argues.
The outlandish accusations had prompted Ginsburg to show up in court with two colleagues from his firm, Adorno & Yoss -- Elizabeth Schwabedissen and Jack Reiter -- as well as Cypen. They were not pleased.
Judge Schwartz was also annoyed. Just how did Soven come to know about this supposed federal investigation? he demanded to know. Soven explained that he knew about it because FBI agents had interviewed several of his clients. Further he told the judge that Ginsburg had received a FISA letter. FISA -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- gives the federal government "far-reaching authority to subpoena bank records in this country, as well as overseas," Soven noted.
Judge Schwartz confessed that he was "flabbergasted" by Soven's motion, but agreed to put Ginsburg under oath. "I have not received a FISA letter," Ginsburg told the judge. "I spoke to George Yoss, the managing partner of our firm. The firm has not, to his knowledge, received a letter either." He added that he was unaware of any investigation involving him.
Then the judge put Cypen under oath. "Are you aware of any investigation currently being conducted by any branch of the federal government involving you specifically as an individual, you specifically as an attorney for the Town of Surfside, or the law firm Cypen & Cypen?" the judge asked.
"No," Cypen replied.
The lawyer added, however, that he did know of one FISA letter received in Surfside. "I have been made aware that the chief of police, who was the acting town manager for 30 days, received a FISA letter," Cypen told the judge.
That was news to Surfside police chief Larry Boemler, who told The Bitch two days later he had not received such a letter. "This is one of the cleanest towns you can imagine," Boemler assured us. He declined further comment.
Judge Schwartz eventually denied Soven's motion to remove Ginsburg from the code enforcement case, because the FBI would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation. "I've never been contacted by any authority," Ginsburg grumbled. "If I were, I would give them my full cooperation. Everything we've done is public record. The Town of Surfside has nothing to hide."