On November 9, 2017, Marvin Kaplan, based out of Sarasota Florida, filed yet another lawsuit. This time against Regions Bank. Kaplan claims that Regions Bank destroyed his reputation when they made claims he was check kiting. Based on the lawsuits, there is no other reasonable assumption.
The reality is that Marvin Kaplan destroyed his own reputation by his own actions. Marvin Kaplan sent many banks in Southwest Florida into deep trouble as he walked away from over $20 million in financial institution loans. All of this is public domain and well documented by the Sarasota Herald Tribune and several other media outlets.
Kaplan was loaning Smith Advertising money at rates that were illegal in the state of Florida and unimaginable. The interest rates based on documentation from previous lawsuits were 10% a day on loans of $500,000 plus. As others have cited this would be considered usurious in the State of Florida which is a felony.
Marvin Kaplan and Larry Starr, his business associate, claim they were duped by Smith Advertising. Common sense says this is very difficult for anyone to believe. Both Marvin Kaplan and Larry Starr were in trouble in the real estate business as their projects collapsed and the banks wanted their money. Both were hunting for new revenue to survive. Larry Starr is also well documented for defaulting in millions in loans to the banks. Both men are sophisticated and smart businessmen. It is highly unlikely that a small advertising agency based out of Fayetteville, NC were so good that they hood winked Starr and Kaplan.
What is most interesting is that Smith Advertising had many public accounts. After a quick online search, an ex-client of Smith Advertising like Charlotte Harbor has their annual marketing budget posted for public view. Anyone at anytime could have run due diligence on Smith Advertising. It obviously never happened. Why not? Smith Advertising clearly never had the revenue to support millions of dollars in loans to Larry Starr and Marvin Kaplan at 10% daily interest. Starr and Kaplan would have had to fall off the back of the turnip truck to think otherwise.
Larry Starr was convicted for fraud in Federal Court, with his father, that was ultimately overturned in an appeal. Starr narrowly escaped prison time and then relocated to Sarasota, Florida. What is interesting, Starr was convicted on a similar scheme that Smith Advertising is alleged to have cooked up. Did Larry Starr strike again? This time out of Sarasota, Florida along with Marvin Kaplan. Larry Starr was once the Chairman for the Sarasota Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for over a 10 years, overseeing the annual tax dollar marketing budget. Larry Starr knows advertising, he knows advertising budgets, he knows what companies and public entities like Convention and Visitor Bureaus spend on marketing and advertising. Likewise, Marvin Kaplan is a smart man with the same type of finance and financial background.
All facts produced in the lawsuits point to Larry Starr and Marvin Kaplan running a predatory lending operation with the interest rates they and others were charging Smith Advertising. This is illegal. There are very few people that believe the spin and lie that these two men were victims. The facts from all of the lawsuits filed throughout the past six years tell a much different story. A story of predatory lending, usurious interest rates, greed and persuasive power. Smith Advertising was a 40 year old family company with clients all over the Southeast. Ex-clients have nothing but accolades for Smith Advertising, Gary Smith, Todd Smith and their staff. Clients were with Smith Advertising for 15, 20, 25 and even 30 years. The company was in obvious financial trouble and based on the records turned to private lenders. What they obviously did not know is that they were walking into a web of well documented, unscrupulous businessmen.
The interest rates charged by lenders like Marvin Kaplan and Larry Starr are incogitable and beyond belief. People lie, but numbers do not lie. Who hood winked who? Regions Bank is likely to fire back hard. Kaplan has filed a frivolous lawsuit. The FDIC is likely watching Marvin Kaplan and Larry Starr like a hawk and rightfully so.
As lawsuits continue to be filed, we continue to learn more on who the true victims in this case are and it certainly does not bode well for Marvin Kaplan and Larr Starr.