Nadel hires heavy hitting lawyers

Arthur Nadel, the Sarasota hedge fund manager who allegedly squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of his clients’ money, has spared no expense in hiring attorneys to defend him.

Nadel, who faces one count each of wire fraud and securities fraud, has retained Barry Cohen and Todd Foster of the Cohen, Jayson & Foster P.A. law firm in Tampa, which specializes in defending people accused of white-collar crimes.

Cohen has a reputation as a hard-as-nails attorney who has pulled off astounding verdicts.

One of the most prominent cases was that of Jennifer Porter, the Tampa school teacher who in 2004 was charged with running over and killing two children and leaving the scene of the accident.

The case was all the talk among legal circles because Cohen managed to keep his client from serving any jail time. Instead, Porter received two years of house arrest and community service.

Cohen also was hired to defend Nick Bollea, the son of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, but later withdrew from the case. Bollea was sentenced last year to eight months in jail for felony reckless driving in a 2007 crash, in which a passenger in his car was seriously injured during a drag race on city streets at speeds of up to 100 mph.

Cohen also represented a University of South Florida student who in 2004 was abducted from a Tampa apartment complex where she lived and shot three times in the head but survived.

According to his firm’s biography of him, Cohen was initially offered a $1 million settlement in the case from the apartment management company, which a jury later found to be negligent for allowing cars to go unchecked through a security gate and not repairing a hole in the fence at the complex.

Cohen turned down the settlement and eventually won a verdict for more than $15 million in compensation and punitive damages.

Cohen’s firm was estimated to have received between $3.4 million and $6.3 million for the case, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Foster is no stranger to representing Sarasota men accused of committing multimillion-dollar scams.

He represented Todd Kolbe, who masterminded a flip scheme that defrauded a New Jersey lender out of more than $3 million on properties in Manatee and Sarasota counties earlier this decade. Kolbe served 20 months in federal prison after pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Foster also represents Michael Tringali, a Sarasota businessman accused of participating with three others in an $83 million real-estate scheme in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Tringali has pleaded guilty to one federal criminal charge and is scheduled to be sentenced in March.

Prior to joining up with Cohen, Foster served as an FBI agent and both a federal and state prosecutor.

Nadel, who is accused of advertising inflated returns for his hedge funds when, in fact, they were losing money, turned himself in Tuesday to FBI officials in Tampa.

He is being held in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service and is scheduled for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Tampa federal court.

During a first appearance in Tampa on Tuesday, Cohen asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo to let Nadel go home on house arrest before his bond hearing.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Cohen said. “Three days in a cage is a long time to be locked up.”

But Pizzo decided that was out of the question, given the more than $300 million that may have been misappropriated by Nadel.

Bradenton defense attorney Mark Lipinski said Nadel chose his representation wisely.

“Todd Foster is a very good attorney who worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Barry has been an attorney for a very long time in Tampa,” Lipinski said.

“He picked good lawyers. They are involved in very complex litigation. They will certainly look at everything there is to look at and give him a vigorous defense.”

Ellen Podgor, associate dean of faculty development and electronic education at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, who also runs the “White Collar Crime Prof Blog,” said the case could take two years or more to be tried, depending on Nadel’s level of cooperation.

“White-collar crimes tend to be document cases,” Podgor said. “And because they’re document cases, it’s not the police officer doing the investigation. It’s a presentation of documents to a grand jury. And those grand juries can last a long time. Some white-collar cases do go on for several years. I would say that this one is going to move a little bit faster because they have him in custody, versus when they’re doing an investigation for a year and don’t have him in custody.”

Nadel may also cooperate with prosecutors in an attempt to get a lighter sentence by implicating others, Podgor said.

So far, no others have been charged in the case, but Nadel’s wife, Peg, and his former partners, Neil and Chris Moody, have been questioned by investigators.

“If the individual is cooperating then there is more of a likelihood that they (prosecutors) will be focusing elsewhere on other individuals,” Podgor said.

Then again, the government may not need much cooperation if the paper trail of Nadel’s alleged scheme is solid enough.

“They may not need anybody if they have enough paperwork and documentation,” Podgor said. “They may not need someone to cooperate because the documents speak for themselves.”

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