Alan Sakowitz, a whistleblower of a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme masterminded by Scott Rothstein, fraudster extraordinaire, tells of the story of his decision to turn in Rothstein regardless of the possible dangerous ramifications of such a decision. The saga of Rothstein’s rise and fall which included a Warren Yacht, two Bugattis, Governor Crist, the former Versace mansion, The Eagles, and even the murder of a law partner, is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made from. Instead of the mere accounting of such a scandal, Sakowitz uses the Rothstein scheme as a cautionary tale in stark contrast to the stories of humble, ethical individuals living within Sakowitz’s neighborhood in North Miami Beach, Florida, Sakowitz’s neighbors are people who have spent their lives trying to assist others, not line their pockets, and through these stories Sakowitz creates a sharp dichotomy between the greed, of a Rothstein and its mainstream culture of consumption and the charity, kindness and selflessness of a principle-oriented community. Indeed, Sakowitz speaks to the symptoms of a culture that could create a Scott Rothstein, and, though acknowledging that the easy way out is not simple to dismiss, offers remedies to the growing ills of our entitlement society. The answer, Sakowitz says, lies in thinking first of others, and how one’s actions should benefit the lives of friends, not one’s short-term gratifications.
It’s guys like Scott Rothstein that give attorneys a bad name. And it’s guys like Alan Sakowitz that prove that humanity is, at its heart, good.
I recently finished “Miles Away, Worlds Apart” by Alan Sakowitz, an attorney and real estate investor whose path crossed with Scott Rothstein, an attorney and one time Ponzi scheme artist. Billed by some as a “criminal thriller,” I found it to be more of cautionary tale, a combination memoir and homage to the good people in Sakowitz’s life compared to the tragic flamboyance that he found in Scott Rothstein.
I usually don’t read true crime, or fictitious crime for that matter, but this book was pretty good. With all of the television specials regarding Ponzi schemes, it is hard to avoid reading more about them.
What I liked most about this book, besides the slightly dangerous main storyline (this is actually a non-fiction book) the author tells stories about the lives of the people in his neighborhood-stories that show the good side of human nature. One of my favorite stories is about the author’s daughter and how he finds out that she spent a year and a half without her pillow in a kind of tribute to her cancer-stricken teacher. She decided since he was unable to sleep comfortably at night due to the pain he was experiencing, that she would not let herself sleep comfortably. The author/father finds out only after the teacher’s cancer is in remission. The entire book is filled with similar stories, much like a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Even without the side stories, the book was really interesting-Sakowitz does an excellent job of keeping you in the action.