Former City Attorney Feingold prepares lawsuit against Vice Mayor Newman

By Kimberly Porter….
Vice Mayor Valerie Newman’s battle with ex- City Attorney Laurence Feingold accelerated the past week with two major developments:

Newman’s assertion that Feingold accepted a $26,000 check in 2010 that she questioned as a potential referral fee (since corrected);

Atty. Feingold subsequent planning to take Newman to court due to what he claims as defamation and emotional distress.

Feingold disclosed he is in the process of drafting a legal suit against Newman after she alleged to a Miami Herald reporter, numerous South Miami residents and Feingold himself, that he accepted a $26,000 check from Jeff Bass of Shubin & Bass, P.A., on February 24, 2010.

According to an email dated March 22, 2011, Newman had asked Feingold to “please explain what the $26,000 check from Shubin and Bass was for” and wondered if he was receiving referral fees for directing business to them.

In the email, Newman says she met on February 24 with Feingold and Bass at Christy’s Steak House in Coral Gables at Feingold’s request “in regard to handling my ethics case.” During that meeting, her email states: “You received at the table a check for $26,000 from Shubin and Bass delivered by Jeff.”

Her email also states: “I have since learned that you referred Shubin and Bass to Mattaway. There is confirmation of that.”Rick Mattaway is associated with Richard-Brandon Company, real estate developers whose projects include Plaza 57.

Feingold indicated that referring the firm to Mattaway would be unethical since Mattaway is currently engaged in a city lawsuit.

Another email received by a Miami Heraldreporter on March 24 from Newman made the correction that the February 24 meeting was actually with Jeff Sudduth, an attorney with Todd Fodiman of Legon Ponce & Fodiman, P.A. In that email she also states, “Todd Fodiman registered as a lobbyist representing 7300 Investments and 62nd Avenue (Mr. Mattaway). The check was from Mr. Fodiman’s firm. It is Mr. Fodiman’s firm that represents Mr. Mattaway.”

Feingold said he questions Newman’s credibility because one day she confirmed Shubin & Bass, P.A. as representing Mattaway, then corrected herself two days later.

Legon Ponce & Fodiman, P.A., was already handling Newman’s ethics case as of the stated meeting on February 24, 2010. A bill from the firm to the City of South Miami shows a charge for a conference with Feingold on that date to “review and analyze second amended ethics petition” and to “prepare for commission hearing.” The ethics commission hearing for Newman was held the following day, February 25, 2010.

“This is her own attorney whose name she didn’t remember even though they went to trial the very next day [after the alleged check scenario],” said Feingold.

Following their successful dismissal of her ethics case, Newman again attempted to hire Legon Ponce & Fodiman, P.A. to defend her in the case of Balogun vs the City of South Miami and Valerie Newman. A resolution at the April 6 2010 City Commission meeting passed by a 3-1 vote.

Feingold said the only reason the firm did not end up representing her a second time is due to the insurance company refusing to pay her fees unless she used one of their approved attorneys.

Feingold has stated in public meetings that Newman has lied, and has asked: “If Valerie saw me take an improper referral fee in February 2010 from either law firm, why did she wait a year to complain about an illegal act?

“She is not concerned with an alleged improper act but seeks to harass and slander me even after I left the city.”

When contacted for comment, Newman said “I have made no such allegations.”

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