Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel’s name was all over an investment deal that cost a businessman $150,000.
Her name was used to promote the plan to develop a piece of land in North Miami, prosecutors say. She was listed as a “general partner” in the company created to consummate the deal. A bank teller recalled Zabel walking into the branch to ink the paperwork for the corporate account.
And a chunk of the money was used not to develop land, but to pay Zabel and her husband’s personal bills.
But while prosecutors on Thursday will be formally charging her husband as the man allegedly behind the stolen money, they won’t be arresting Zabel.
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The state announced Wednesday it could not prove that the longtime judge knew anything about the deal or what her husband was up to. Zabel told prosecutors that she had no idea her name was being used to promote the deal and that “she did not remember” signing any documents or even going to the bank to open the account.
“While Zabel had no recollection of signing any of the documents related to this case, she nevertheless would not say that her signatures were forged by someone else,” prosecutor Luis Perez-Medina wrote in a memo released Wednesday announcing the decision to not charge her. “Instead, Zabel stated that the signatures could have been hers but she could not remember.”
Prosecutors also said they had no evidence Zabel “participated or aided” her husband the actual day the deal was inked with the investor.
Her lawyer, Margot Moss, blasted prosecutors in a statement, saying “this case is a simple civil dispute between Myron Rosner and an investor that occurred over 5 years ago.”
“The state didn’t charge Judge Zabel because Judge Zabel has done absolutely nothing wrong. It’s offensive that prosecutors are continuing to try to tarnish a truly good person’s reputation. Instead, they should be thanking her for supporting her disabled husband, raising four incredible children, and serving her community as a judge. But we aren’t holding our breath.”
Zabel, who presides over family-court cases, has been a Miami-Dade circuit judge since 2002. Her most famous case: in 2014, when she declared Florida’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has since declared likewise.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Public Corruption Task Force last month arrested her husband, Myron Rosner. He faces arraignment Thursday on charges of securities fraud during the sale of an investment, sale of an unregulated security, a security sale by an unregistered person and grand theft.
Rosner was a North Miami Beach city commissioner for six years, and a mayor for two before losing reelection in 2011. This isn’t his first time in trouble — he was arrested for receiving free political bus-bench ads for his failed campaign. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of probation.
Rosner, 57, the owner of SIZ Construction, is accused of pilfering much of a $150,000 investment from businessman David Rosenbaum, who later sued over the project. The project, known as Retail 135, was to be a self-storage facility on 2.2 acres in North Miami.
“Rosenbaum told [investigators] that while he never met Zabel, the fact that a sitting judge was the general partner gave him great confidence in the project,” according to an arrest warrant by investigator Robert Fielder.
But investigators say Rosner wound up spending most of the money on paying off his personal debts, mortgage payments, cable and cellphone bills and groceries, according to the warrant. At the time, the couple was going through financial difficulties and their home was on “the verge of foreclosure,” according to the warrant.
When confronted by investigators, Rosner claimed that the money he was using to pay his wife’s bills was from an inheritance — money he was hiding from her. When confronted in her chambers, Zabel distanced herself from her husband’s business dealings.
In a sworn affidavit later given to prosecutors, Zabel insisted she had no idea her husband was using her name to promote the project — and did “not perform any work toward the purchase or development of land for Retail 135.”