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Saturday, October 17, 2009

 

FBI investigates investigator

FBI investigates investigator

An accountant known for tracing missing funds is being investigated over reports of funds missing from his firm.

LUISA YANEZ

Miami Herald

October 16, 2009

Lewis Freeman built his career as an expert forensic accountant able to trace missing funds when failed South Florida companies went into receivership.

Freeman and his firm were frequently appointed by judges to scour company finances and recover money for defrauded victims.

``We make numbers clear,'' his company website promised.

Now, Freeman appears to be in trouble himself. About $3.6 million in funds are reportedly missing from bank accounts he controlled, according to sources familiar with an FBI investigation into the matter.

The ownership of the missing money is unclear.

On Friday, Freeman told his employees that his firm -- Lewis B. Freeman & Partners -- is being dissolved and is now in receivership.

The move comes days after FBI agents served a search warrant at his Coconut Grove office on Aviation Avenue and his Plantation office, hauling away records and computers.

No charges have been filed.

Judy Orihuela, spokeswoman for the FBI in Miami, declined comment.

Freeman's attorneys, Matthew Menchel and Robert Josefsberg, also declined comment.

In a letter to employees dated Thursday, Freeman wrote:

``It pains me beyond words to advise you that, because of the circumstances, I have today filed papers with the court asking for a receiver to be appointed to oversee the dissolution of our firm.

``I know that this action raises many questions, the most important of which is how this affects each of you in terms of compensation and benefits. . . . With much affection and sadness, Lew.''

Freeman's problems come at the same time he is battling the Internal Revenue Service over a $4.5 million civil assessment.

Freeman has financially dismantled companies accused of fraud. Among them: Unique Gems International, which was accused of defrauding consumers of as much as $90 million, and Hess Kennedy, a former law firm in Coral Springs accused of defrauding customers seeking to lower their debt.

A message left at Freeman's Miami office was not returned. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.


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