Tabas declined to comment on the suit against Shook, Hardy & Bacon, filed by his lawyers, Gary Freedman and Andrea Rigali.
The complaint is based on depositions by Levinson, who has been on administrative leave since November, and other Shook, Hardy & Bacon lawyers, as well as internal law firm records, emails and Shapiros financial documents. (An NCAA enforcement officer investigating Shapiros claims of gift-giving to UM athletes sat in on the depositions taken last year.)
The firms lawyers provided advice to Shapiro from 2003 to 2009 on his investment in Axcess Sports & Entertainment while he was a UM booster, as well as on his dealings with investors who loaned him millions of dollars at high-interest rates for his Miami Beach-based grocery brokerage business, Capitol Investments the core of his Ponzi scheme.
The suit, which names Levinson and Shook, Hardy & Bacon as defendants, asserts they knew Shapiro broke NCAA rules and Florida law by acting as an unlicensed sports agent who recruited Hurricanes players for the NFL, while providing them with cash and other gifts, such as parties at his Miami Beach mansion, his yacht and local strip clubs. Shapiro also claims he supplied some of the UM athletes with prostitutes.
The complaint also asserts that in late 2006, Levinson became increasingly worried that Shapiro would be unable to repay new investors in his grocery brokerage business because he was using their money to pay off old investors. Shapiro also used millions to pay off his sport-fishing yacht, a North Carolina golf course resort deal and his mounting gambling debts, according to the bankruptcy suit. Levinson finally asked one of Shook, Hardy & Bacons attorneys to determine whether Shapiro was violating securities laws.
A December 2006 memo issued by the firm concluded that Shapiro was violating the Securities and Exchange Act. But Levinson sat on the securities memo afraid to deliver it and tell his best friend that he could be held criminally liable for violations of the Act, according to the suit.
The following month, Levinson and other Shook, Hardy & Bacon lawyers learned that one of Shapiros business associates and an investor had reported his criminal conduct to the FBI. At that point, the law firm referred Shapiro to criminal defense attorneys Lewis and Tein, who had previously worked together at Shook, Hardy & Bacon.
Despite that referral and the internal memo, Levinson and other lawyers at his firm continued to advise Shapiro on his issuance of millions of dollars in promissory notes to investors to save his failing business, Capitol Investments, through 2009.
Shook, Hardy & Bacon tacitly agreed with Capitols proliferation of its Ponzi scheme and Shook, Hardy & Bacon failed to ever deter Capitol from its additional borrowings, the suit said.
Instead, Levinson actually encouraged Shapiros additional borrowings, telling Shapiro that he needed to make sure to get more funds so Capitol could stay afloat as Levinson knew that if Capitol failed, Shapiro would likely be prosecuted for securities fraud.