Herb Stettin to Russ Adler: You Now Work For Me!

I recently had the great pleasure of rewatching Jimmy Caan’s best film, Thief, where he plays a Chicago freelance diamond thief dreaming of a better life who gets sucked into working for a local mob kingpin for what Caan thinks is one final heist.

Of course the mobster, brilliantly played by Robert Prosky, has other, longer term plans for the profitable crook.

Naturally we are in a very different context, yet for whatever reason I’m reminded of this superb story line when I read the curious settlement terms reached by receiver Herb Stettin and Russ Adler in the Rothstein bankruptcy, which involves Russ handing over a portion of his settlements or judgments should he be successful in future cases:

The settlement stipulates Adler will pay off the settlement by liquidating a $90,000 IRA and by providing liens on any attorney fee recoveries. The lien is 50 percent on lawsuits Adler prosecuted while at RRA and 15 percent afterward.

So now they’re in business together?  And Russ is now working to pay off the settlement by trying to settle cases he either has in the hopper or may one day have in the hopper. This is allegedly due to his current financial situation:

Critical to determining settlement was a detailed analysis of the Adlers’ current financial condition, which based upon mediation related financial disclosures revealed that the Adlers have no existing bank, securities or other accounts upon which to execute, no equity in their home, leased vehicles and no other liquid non-exempt assets that could be used to satisfy any potential judgment. Further, it appears as if the Adlers may be subject to an IRS notice of lien or other action in an approximate amount of $234,000 and Mr. Adler could be facing other types of exposure in potential Florida Bar or criminal proceedings. Thus, the Trustee could have spent a significant amount of money to prepare for and conduct a lengthy trial which he believes would have resulted in a favorable jury verdict, but the likelihood of a successful collection on any such judgment would have proven difficult.

So who’s the winner here — is this a brilliant move by Adler, a smart move by the trustee, or something else entirely?