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South Florida Legal Guide Midyear 2009 Edition

South Florida attorneys rely on our region's financial professionals for forensic accounting, e-discovery, expert witness testimony and other litigation support services. That's why each edition of South Florida Legal Guide recognizes our "Top CPAs in Litigation Support," including the following professionals.

Stewart L. Appelrouth, CPA
Appelrouth, Farah & Co., P.A.

In March, Bear Stearns & Co., one of the world’s largest investment firms, was ordered to pay $27,353,000 in damages to the receiver for National Heritage Life Insurance Company (NHL), a Delaware company with principal offices in Orlando. In his ruling, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court General Magistrate James E. Glatt, Jr., said Bear Stearns had misrepresented the  nature of its investment strategy to NHL.

Stewart L. Appelrouth, CPA, a partner with Appelrouth Farah & Co., played a key role in the case by analyzing the sophisticated  financial investments and providing expert testimony that helped  determine the damages due to the plaintiff due to reliance on  Bear Stearns.

Appelrouth, 55, has been in practice 26 years and his primary areas of litigation support include family law, economic  damages, lost profits, personal injury, wrongful death, wrongful  termination, insurance claims analysis, and expert witness testimony. Referring to the firm he co-founded in 1985, he says,  “Appelrouth Farah & Company is a full-service accounting firm with a dedicated litigation services, forensic accounting and business valuation team with over 60 years of combined experience in the field"

Appelrouth is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified in Financial Forensics, Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Valuation Analyst, Certified Family Law and Mediator and Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Accounting. He was the 2007 Pro Bono Award winner for Outstanding Presentation, Dade County Bar Association and the 11th Judicial Circuit. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Florida International University College of Law and on the Audit Committee for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Steven M. Berwick, CPA
Kaufman Rossin & Co., P.A.
Steven M. Berwick recently assisted in the defense of a Big Four accounting firm in an audit malpractice case. His testimony in regard to the standard of care and compliance with professional standards helped resolve the case successfully. He also provided forensic analysis for the defense in a case against officers and directors in a class action suit against a large company.

Berwick, 56, brings 35 years of practice to his primary areas of litigation support: e-discovery, forensic accounting, business valuation and expert witness. “My practice focuses on lost profit calculations, commercial damage models, and professional malpractice matters,” says Berwick, who has provided testimony in more than 65 commercial litigation matters and qualified as an expert witness in various federal and state courts.

A Certified Public Accountant, Certified Valuation Analyst and Certified Information Technology Professional, Berwick leads the firm’s digital forensic practice. He was recently named Technology Leader of the Year (CTO) by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

“Over the past several years, increasing attention has been on the digital aspects of forensic accounting, including e-discovery,” Berwick says. “We assist attorneys not just in acquiring large amounts of data (the purely technological challenge) but in identifying, preserving, analyzing, producing and presenting the evidence that they truly need.”
Berwick is a member of the Florida International University Council of 100, and the FIU School of Accounting Advisory Board.

Tami Clemenza-Wilson, CPA
Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLP

In divorce cases involving pre-nuptial agreements, determining whether or not each spouse’s funds have been kept separate can be a key factor in settlements. “You may have to trace the history of the different accounts throughout the marriage to determine if there has been a substantial amount of co-mingling of funds,” says Tami Clemenza-Wilson, who is responsible for her firm’s Family Law division and handles cases throughout South Florida.

For the past 15 years, Clemenza-Wilson, 40, has focused her litigation support practice in family law, providing expert testimony in many high-profile cases involving celebrities, athletes, and community leaders.

“With almost four decades of tradition, our firm is led by a professional, hands-on team of CPAs and consultants that offer individuals, entrepreneurs and corporate clients exceptional value-added through our business experience, industry knowledge and technical expertise,” she says.

A Certified Public Accountant with a Master of Science in Taxation (MST), Clemenza-Wilson has more than 20 years of experience in public accounting including Big Four experience in taxation.

She has published articles and given lectures on specific issues relating to family law. She is recognized as an expert witness by both civil and federal courts in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties. In the community, she supports United Way, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation and University of Miami Business School Mentorship Program.

Peter Gampel, CPA
RSM McGladrey

Peter Gampel recently assisted an attorney in a Lanham Act case involving false advertising where the parties were substantially apart on the quantification of damages. The result was a highly successful resolution at trial. In another matter involving breach of contract, Gampel prepared a detailed damages report and rebuttal report that led to a successful settlement in a case involving a credit card processor.

“I enjoy helping attorneys accomplish successful resolution of their cases through creative, detailed and objective solutions,” says Gampel, who is director of the Business Valuation, Forensic Accounting and Litigation Services for RSM McGladrey’s South Florida practice. “I enjoy my role in the Florida Economic Unit of RSM McGladrey.”

Gampel, 55, has been practicing in the litigation, forensic and valuation field on an exclusive basis for more than 25 years and has been involved in more than 1,000 engagements. Based in Fort Lauderdale, he regularly meets clients in the firm’s Coral Gables and West Palm Beach offices.

Gampel’s credentials include Certified Public Accountant, Accredited in Business Valuation, Accredited Senior Appraiser — Business Valuation, Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF), Chartered Accountant-Canada, and Chartered Business Valuator. He is active in forensic and fraud investigations involving construction litigation, intellectual property infringement, wrongful termination, personal injury, shareholder and marital disputes and other matters. In addition, Gampel has extensive business valuation experience in sophisticated practice areas such as multi-national companies.

In the community, Gampel is active in the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and recently participated in the local “walk” and as a fundraiser on behalf of a daughter stricken with the disease. He is also an avid ice hockey player.

Barry E. Mukamal, CPA
MarcumRachlin, a division of Marcum LLP

Barry E. Mukamal has served as trustee, receiver or plan administrator for a number of Florida real estate projects, including the Blue and Green Diamond condominium towers in Miami Beach. As Chapter 11 Trustee for the Breakwater/Edison hotels on South Beach, Mukamal was able to resolve serious outstanding municipal violations, secure the facilities and pave the way for commercial restaurant operations to continue without interruption. This resulted in the sale of the hotels with court approval at a price acceptable to the secured creditors.

A partner with MarcumRachlin LLP’s Advisory Services Division, Mukamal, 54, has more than 30 years of experience in matters involving bankruptcy and insolvency, business valuations, commercial damage calculations, contract disputes, investigation of commercial fraud, marital dissolution and forensic analysis, succession planning audit and review, and expert witness services. His credentials include Certified Public Accountant, Personal Financial Specialist, Accredited in Business Valuation, Certified Forensic Examiner and Certified in Financial Forensics.

“MarcumRachlin’s advisory practice is designed to handle a multitude of diverse assignments by tailoring each project with the most qualified professionals and instituting time-tested strategies for attaining optimum results, on time and on budget,” he says.

A Chapter 7 Panel Trustee in the Southern District of Florida, Mukamal has extensive experience operating businesses and liquidating their assets in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court system as well as in state court proceedings.
Mukamal actively participates in the Rachlin Foundation, which supports various causes throughout South Florida. “As an active member in the foundation,” he says, “I contribute to the clothing, food and toy drives for the children, poor and elderly in our community."

Sandra L. Perez, CPA
Associate Director of Forensic & Business Valuation Services
Berkowitz Dick Pollack & Brant Certified Public Accountants & Consultants, LLP

While investigating the transfer of marital assets relating to a foreign trust, Sandra L. Perez was able to uncover $9 million of previously undisclosed money for her client. Other recent engagements include the international tracing of funds in connection with a divorce case and providing a business valuation of a national retailer with more than 40 stores in the Southeast U.S.

With 15 years in practice, Perez, 39, specializes in complex matrimonial and divorce issues. She provides forensic and valuation services, including assistance in settlement conferences and mediations and expert testimony in court. “Understanding and being sensitive to our clients’ needs is essential in providing the services they expect,” she says.

A Certified Public Accountant whose credentials include Accredited in Business Valuation, and Certified in Financial Forensics, Perez has been involved in a number of significant cases.

She has frequently been involved in the valuation of closely held companies as a part of determining the net worth and income of the parties. However, she also prepares business valuations for estate and gift tax purposes, purchase and sale transactions and buy-out agreements.

Other aspects of Perez’ work include preparation of financial affidavits, determination of income and lifestyle, net worth analyses, child support and alimony calculations, preparation of deposition questions, critique of opposing expert calculations and compliance with mandatory disclosure.

Rich Shavell, CPA
Shavell & Company, P.A.

In 2005, Rich Shavell spoke to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) regarding an unfair tax issue. A month later, the IRS issued a proposed rule to reverse its position limiting construction contractors using the completed contract method (CCM) of accounting. Shavell, 46, has also testified several times before Congress on tax-related issues.

With 24 years in practice, Shavell’s primary areas of litigation support include forensic accounting, damages computations and expert witness testimony. “Our firm is a boutique practice with a focus on construction and real estate,” he says. “Our mission is to help small and medium businesses make more money and keep more of it.”

Shavell is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional. He is a member of education and scholarship programs in both the accounting and construction professions, and a member of the Grand Canyon Association who is hiking the canyon for the seventh time this summer.

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