They submitted a fee schedule in court Thursday.
“Is there gonna be any money left at the end of the day here, or what?” Broward Probate Judge Mark A. Speiser teased Thomas F. Panza, the court-appointed conservator of the non-trust assets for the missing Fort Lauderdale multimillionaire.
Panza told the judge, “Mine are much lower than most everybody else’s.”
Said Speiser, “And you earned every penny in the other case you had before me as conservator. I just want to make sure there’s money left here at the end of the day for people other than lawyers.”
Attorney John P. “Jack” Seiler, who is also Fort Lauderdale’s mayor, was appointed conservator ad litem for all of the litigation.
When it came to his fees, he told the judge, “I’m joining in their motion. We have the same fee structure.”
Here’s the fee chart that was submitted in Panza’s motion:
$400 per hour for named partners
$330 – $375 per hour for partners
$300 – $325 per hour for senior associates
$210 – $300 per hour for associates
$210 – $250 for Of Counsel
$110 per hour for law clerks and paralegals
$125 per hour for real estate professional
The lawyers and their teams may well earn those high fees. Panza is trying to take control of Aguiar’s extensive real estate holdings in Israel, where some relatives, including Aguiar’s siblings and mother Ellen Aguiar, may claim title, according to comments made in court. That battle will be waged in a future hearing.
Seiler has to plow through documents for seven state and federal lawsuits, some of which began in 2009, then step into Aguiar’s shoes and act on behalf of the 35-year-old investor who disappeared, presumably at sea, on June 19.
Aguiar conservators’ fees “much lower than everybody else’s”
July 26, 2012
Aguiar’s wife to list assets
July 30, 2012
If Guma Aguiar is alive, watching his loved ones from afar and noting the legal decisions happening in his absence, he may not be happy to see his former lifestyle being dismantled.
Jamie Aguiar, 33, his wife of seven years and mother of their four young children, received permission from a Broward judge to list their $5 million Rio Vista Isles waterfront mansion in Fort Lauderdale, as well as a $2 million, 75-foot Lazzara yacht and the fishing boat.
Also being shed: The yacht’s captain and the home’s “big staff, more than Jamie wants, that’s for sure,” her lawyer, William Scherer said Friday.
The 31-foot fishing boat vessel that may have carried Aguiar on his final voyage was released to an insurance company, Fort Lauderdale Police said Friday, and will also likely be sold, Scherer said.
“The judge signed the order to sell the properties,” Scherer said. “We’re gonna get the proper boat broker and real estate agent and get them listed and sold, so she can go on with her life and not be in that big house. It’s like a fishbowl.”
Where is missing millionaire Guma Aguiar?
July 29, 2012
South Florida Sun Sentinel
He died in a tragic boating accident, leaving behind a beautiful wife and four young children.
Tormented by psychological illness, he committed suicide.
Or, others suggest, he faked his death to dodge a half-dozen lawsuits pecking at his $100 million fortune.
If Aguiar disappeared on purpose, he may want to note that many have tried in Florida, and most have failed.
Among the attempts, according to newspaper accounts:
• Former British Cabinet minister John Stonehouse was fleeing blackmail and pretended to drown in the Atlantic Ocean in 1974. He left his belongings in his room at Miami Beach‘s Fontainebleau Hotel, and turned up in Australia. He managed to travel for a month before Melbourne police were tipped off. He served three years in prison for forgery, theft and fraud.
• Audrey Marie Hilley moved from Alabama to Fort Lauderdale to escape charges of murdering her husband with arsenic in 1979. She adopted an alias, married a boat builder and somehow “died.” She returned as her fictitious “twin sister.” She reunited with the boat builder and, in her new persona, lived in New Hampshire. A fake obituary she placed backfired, leading to her 1983 capture after four years as a fugitive.
• Investments manager Marcus Schrenker parachuted from his plane over Alabama in 2009, letting it crash near a neighborhood in the Florida Panhandle. It was all part of a fake death plot to evade his failing marriage and business troubles. Afterward, he didn’t keep a low profile, and drove a motorcycle and emailed a friend. U.S. Marshals found him after two days, while he was trying to commit suicide at a Florida campground.
Fort Lauderdale police consider Aguiar to be a missing person, not a fugitive. This much is known: Aguiar had the means to disappear.
“When somebody starts a new life, and that happens very rarely, we would look for evidence in the behavior beforehand that they were setting things up for that new life,” said former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole.
Without addressing Aguiar’s case, she said those in hiding are frequently undone by habits that give them away and family ties that prove unbreakable.
“A heavy smoker won’t stop smoking just because you’re a fugitive,” O’Toole said. “And if there were bonds there, they eventually want to talk to the person on a birthday or another day, and find a way to do it. And that’s oftentimes their downfall.”
She said the type of person who tries to fake his or her death has self-serving reasons and spends time planning an escape.
“They’re usually trying to get away from the criminal justice system, so they don’t have to be held accountable for the consequences of their actions,” she said. “They probably don’t have a guilty conscience.”
And, she said, they can sometimes be found while trying to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed in their former lives.
Aguiar was last seen alive steering his fishing boat from his private dock at sunset, when a small craft advisory had been issued. His vessel washed onto Fort Lauderdale beach at 1:15 a.m. June 20, seen by employees of the Elbo Room bar.
Five hours earlier, a man was reportedly spotted steering the boat through Port Everglades toward the Atlantic Ocean. GPS analysis found it cruised four miles out to sea before drifting back to shore without its captain.
TheU.S. Coast Guardfound no evidence of Aguiar after searching the ocean for two days and nights.
“At this point in our investigation, there is nothing to indicate foul play,” Fort Lauderdale Police Lt. Frank Sousa said Friday. “It’s illegal to fake your own death. The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is handling this as a missing persons case.”