Attorney Jeffrey B. Rotwitt, the lawyer who earned fees from both sides of a deal to build a new Family Court, has been fired by his law firm.
Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel of Philadelphia, a firm known for its political connections, dismissed Rotwitt on Thursday, effective immediately. Rotwitt, who's been involved in number of high-profile real-estate transactions, had been with Obermayer for 35 years.
Rotwitt's termination came a day after Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille killed a no-bid development deal on the $200 million Family Court building at 15th and Arch streets.
The project is still moving forward, with the state serving as developer. But there is no way of telling whether the state will recover any of the millions in fees already paid out in the busted deal.
Rotwitt had been hired by the courts to help find a site - and was due to earn a $3.9 million fee. Obermayer has already received about $1.3 million for that work.
But Rotwitt also has earned around $500,000 in additional fees as a co-developer on the same project, in a handshake deal with Conshohocken developer Donald W. Pulver.
"The management committee had no knowledge of Mr. Rotwitt's involvement as a developer of the proposed Philadelphia Family Court Facility until the investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer," the firm said in a brief statement.
Castille also says he never knew Rotwitt was on both sides of the deal.
But Rotwitt insists that everyone knew - Castille, other court administrators, major development firms and particularly his partners at Obermayer.
Rotwitt, 59, is owner of the Kixx indoor soccer team and a partner in a $85 million deal - backed by $10 million in state funding - to build a movie studio in Chester Township.
An Obermayer partner for 29 years, Rotwitt was a member of the firm's management committee and its biggest earner, said his spokesman, Kevin Feeley.
"I think Jeff's view is, in light of all the publicity over the past week he understands the firm's decision," Feeley said. But Rotwitt still says his dealings on the Family Court were "open and above board at all times."
Rotwitt maintains that he was not paid as a lawyer by the courts, but as a broker, and says he had no conflict because his work for Castille was done before he made a deal with Pulver.
Rotwitt revealed his role in documents that he sent to the courts, and first acknowledged he was co-developer in an interview with The Inquirer.
"That was always known and there was no secret about it," Feeley said.
Martin Weinberg, Obermayer's chairman, and partner Thomas Leonard, an influential political player, did not return requests for comment.