A Bad News Brother
November 3 was just another day in court for Scott Kasdin, the roguish older brother of Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin. No, he's not a lawyer like Neisen. He's a screenwriter by trade.
He just has this knack for ending up in front of a judge. You know, a bad check here, a third-degree-theft charge there, nonpayment of rent over here. On that day, only a few hours after his brother was the top vote-getter in a city election, Scott's landlord, Regatta Real Estate Management, was trying to evict him from a townhouse. Just the kind of thing that has caused numerous Beach political animals to refer to Scott as "Neisen's Billy Carter" or "Neisen's Roger Clinton."
The elder Kasdin (who, to be fair, has never been to Libya) is a tanned, shaven-headed 46-year-old with a magnetic stare. He wore a black, long-sleeve shirt, khakis, and black-leather loafers as he sat in the refurbished courtroom on the second floor of Miami Beach's historic city hall building at Twelfth Street and Washington Avenue. A smattering of graffiti, including a gang tag or two, had been carved into the spanking new blond-wood benches. Scott was supposed to be there on election day, but the judge had granted him an "emergency continuance."
Scott needed to be free to watch his little bro fall a mere seven votes short of victory. (Results from the November 9 runoff between Neisen and challenger Martin Shapiro were unavailable at press time.) "I was campaigning all day," Scott says. "I was out from 6:30 a.m. to about 11:00 p.m."
Neisen Kasdin confirms that his brother was at the polls. "He's done some work for the campaign," he comments, "but because of problems he's had, I didn't encourage him to participate." Neisen also notes that he didn't know Scott had been scheduled to appear in court on election day. His reaction when told of this? "Oh, God," he moans.
Last week's festivities were really no big deal when compared to the senior Kasdin's other court appearances. No fewer than five of Scott's former landlords have sued him. And, more seriously, he's faced felony charges on four occasions. The most recent charges against him, for theft and forgery, ended in September, when a judge placed Scott Kasdin on probation for two years.
This latest stint marks a low point in Scott's five-year career as a deadbeat, which he admits had been preceded by an ignominious stint as a compulsive gambler and substance abuser. The gambling, which he says lasted into the Nineties, got him in "some hot water with some funny people," but he won't elaborate.
His more recent civil and criminal transgressions have followed in the wake of his 1994 divorce, a case that was marred with disputes over nonpayment of child support for his two daughters, now sixteen and ten years old. Court records show the last of those disputes was resolved in 1997.
In 1995 he agreed to eighteen months' probation following a bad-check charge. He was sentenced to two days in jail later that year on a third-degree grand theft beef. Back in August 1997, Scott and his roommate had to pony up $5670 after landlord Katherine Marcellus tried to evict them. Also in 1997, a judge ordered Scott to pay $560 to a creditor in a contract dispute.
In July 1998 the Floridian, the high-rise apartment tower on West Avenue, filed two actions against Scott. One was dismissed this past May; in the other a judge ordered Kasdin to pay $150.
Also in May, Miami Beach attorney Douglas Stratton accused Scott, a long-time acquaintance and onetime client, of entering his office to use his computer, then stealing a check, making it out to himself in the amount of $15,000, forging Stratton's signature, and cashing it. Scott Kasdin told the Miami Herald, which published an article about the incident, there was a "misunderstanding" that had been "resolved." Stratton disagreed and proceeded with criminal charges. In September Scott pleaded no contest. The judge placed him on probation for two years, with the possibility of an early termination after one year. He also is required to pay back the $15,000 in $500 monthly installments.
While that case was proceeding in criminal court, another landlord sued Scott. This time the plaintiff was one Wolfgang Karrer, who sued in July for nonpayment of rent. In September big brother forked out $4800.
Shortly thereafter Scott moved into the two-bedroom townhouse on Meridian Avenue in South Beach owned by Regatta. Neither that real estate company nor attorney Jorge Fernandez would comment for this story, but their complaint is simple enough, and by now familiar to Scott Kasdin: He fell behind on his rent, so they initiated eviction proceedings. At press time Kasdin still hadn't paid up.
Despite court supervision and the eviction proceedings, Scott says things are beginning to turn around for him. There's just been some confusion. "[Regatta] didn't get the letters I sent them from L.A.," he explains. Scott says that he has spent the past few months polishing the script for Any Given Sunday, the Oliver Stone flick for which the director filled up the Orange Bowl this past spring. The Stone gig, Scott claims, has gotten him "back in the loop" in the screenwriting community.
Being in the loop should also turn him into a much better tenant. Will this spell the end of Scott Kasdin's travails? His brother, for one, isn't so sure. "He has some serious personal problems," Neisen Kasdin says, a bit wearily. "And as a result he's hurt a number of people, including members of his family, including me and my family. He needs to get some professional help."
Scott admits he's made some mistakes. "I'm working to make amends," he says. "But my problems should be no reflection on my brother."
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