In the five months since Alan Koslow
was charged with money-laundering conspiracy, he has lost almost everything: his marriage, his law license and his reputation as one of the most effective attorneys and lobbyists in Florida.
On Thursday afternoon, he lost his freedom.
U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas sentenced Koslow to one year and one day in prison and ordered him to pay a $7,500 fine and $8,500 in restitution. He was taken into custody in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
Koslow, 62, of Hollywood and Boca Raton, pleaded guilty in August to a federal money-laundering conspiracy charge. The prosecution and defense urged the judge to give him a reduced sentence because of his extensive cooperation with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office on other investigations.
Koslow met at least 75 times with four different FBI agents between September 2013 and May 2016, according to court records, though what he did remains secret because of ongoing investigations. The judge remarked that Koslow committed more illegal acts by using cocaine while cooperating with the FBI.
Koslow introduced himself to the judge in court as “Alan Koslow, defendant” and called his crime a “blunder of monumental proportions.” He thanked the judge for letting him complete rehab and said he took full responsibility for everything he did, including failing for years to take prescription lithium for his bipolar disorder, diagnosed in 2004.
“I’m turning it around,” Koslow told the judge, choking up with emotion as he asked for mercy. “I can still do a lot of good. You’ll never see me again, ever, except in good times.”
Koslow, one of the most well-known lawyers in Florida, admitted he helped people he thought were “quasi-mafia” criminals to hide the source of $220,000 linked to illegal gambling and drug dealing of cocaine and counterfeit Viagra. He was caught in an undercover FBI sting.
Agents confronted Koslow on Aug. 22, 2013, in a Fort Lauderdale hotel room but he was not charged until May of this year.
Striking a deal
Koslow secretly cooperated with federal authorities on one or more undercover investigations during those two years and nine months, records show. The lawyers said he provided “substantial assistance” which can range from providing information about other people’s crimes, working under cover or wearing a wire.
His lawyer Michael Orenstein said Koslow was grateful for the judge’s “very lenient” sentence. With standard time off for good behavior, Koslow would serve a little more than 10 months. Under sentencing guidelines tailored to each case, Koslow expected to serve three to four years.
Orenstein declined to comment on Koslow’s cooperation and said he thought the judge’s leniency was due to Koslow’s long history of significant charitable work. The defense estimated he raised at least $9.5 million for local groups, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Broward Outreach homeless shelters and arts-related organizations.
Gaining in clout
Koslow rose to prominence as Hollywood’s city attorney from 1990 to 1993, but resigned after a sex-and-ethics scandal. Koslow admitted he negotiated a financial settlement with a city employee in a sexual harassment complaint but failed to reveal he was having an affair with the woman.
He said he had learned his lesson and quickly bounced back when he was hired by Becker & Poliakoff, one of Florida’s better-known government and lobbying law firms.
Koslow was head of the firm’s gaming, casino and sports law practice and worked in government law and lobbying for more than 20 years. He also raised money for political candidates and served on the boards of several South Florida charities and nonprofits.
He resigned from the powerhouse law firm just before prosecutors revealed he was facing a criminal charge. Koslow has surrendered his law licenses in Florida and New York.
Koslow was known as a flashy, cocksure and aggressive advocate for his clients, mostly gaming interests and developers of huge projects. Critics loved to hate him and shook their heads in wonder at his wheeling-and-dealing, particularly in Hollywood and Tallahassee.
Soon after his arrest, Koslow tested positive for cocaine use several times and was ordered to receive drug rehab treatment in Palm Beach County.
Orenstein said Koslow started a new fundraising organization — while he was in rehab — to help young people with mental health and drug problems to pay for rehab. Orenstein said Koslow is “broken down, humble, contrite.”
‘Mistake in judgment’
In a sentencing video submitted to the judge, Koslow said he has been clean since he entered rehab in July and longs to make amends with the people he hurt. He said his motive was “power … it was showing off.”
“I made a mistake in judgment and everything came tumbling down,” Koslow said, in a hoarse voice, on the video.
His wife filed for divorce in July, seeking to end their 37-year marriage and Koslow’s finances have been frozen. His two daughters refuse to communicate with him but his son has maintained contact. He said he has downgraded his formerly flashy lifestyle.
On the video, Koslow’s supporters spoke about the man they know.
“I’ve never seen Alan in any way act unethically,” said Bernie Friedman, his former law partner and, until recently, perpetual sidekick. Friedman said he never saw Koslow do anything to “besmirch” his law license and that he was “honest.”
Alan Becker, one of the law firm’s founders, said on the video that Koslow’s “tragic flaw is the need for approval” from other people.
Keith Poliakoff, a lawyer and former colleague, said on the video that friends were concerned about Koslow’s mental condition. They later found out he was not taking his prescriptions and was self-medicating with illegal drugs, they said.
“When he was medicated, he was focused,” Poliakoff said. “And then there were the days when you’d call and say ‘Alan, where are you?'”
About 20 family members and friends, including Friedman, Becker and Poliakoff, attended his sentencing.
He ‘liked to be cool’
Koslow admitted in August that he accepted $8,500 from undercover agents as payment for laundering cash, which he thought was linked to drug dealing and illegal gambling, through his friend Susan Mohr’s bank account in 2012 and 2013.
Mohr, 57, of Delray Beach, pleaded guilty to a related charge and is scheduled for sentencing next month.
Prosecutor Neil Karadbil told the judge that Koslow had two personas — one was the high-powered successful attorney who raised money for charities and advised clients on legal matters.
“But the other Alan Koslow is the one who got him here,” Karadbil said. “The other Alan Koslow is the one who likes to take short-cuts, likes to party, is kind of hedonistic.”
Karadbil said Koslow discussed laundering $50,000 per month for two years in exchange for a 5 percent commission. Koslow said the money “was peanuts” but he wanted extra spending money to party with his friends, agents said.
Agents said he told them: “I do favors for clients” and he “liked to be cool.”