BROOKLYN (CN) – As the “Wolf of Wall Street” was in Lithuania giving a motivational speech Wednesday, his lawyer was in a Brooklyn courtroom battling government prosecutors who want to garnish his finances for restitution and other penalties he owes.
Former stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s quick rise, hard-partying lifestyle and spectacular fall — and subsequent memoir — inspired the 2013 Martin Scorsese movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Belfort, now 55, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money laundering in 1999 after a pump-and-dump scheme that made him millions. He spent 22 months in a California prison after agreeing to testify against other schemers, and has since built a career on giving advice about sales, both as an author and motivational speaker.
His attorney Sharon Cohen Levin made an appearance in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday morning to argue that the government should not be able to garnish shares Belfort holds in a startup company to which he offered consulting services.
Cohen Levin argued that the Consumer Credit Protection Act should apply in the case of the shares, which she said outside the courtroom currently have no value.
Belfort’s jet-setting, redemption-tour lifestyle has posed a problem for government prosecutors who have yet to finish deposing him.
“I don’t mean to interrupt his busy schedule,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly said Wednesday, “but I think he’s going to have to come here…We’re going on 15 years now since he’s been sentenced, so schedule it.”
Cohen Levin said that as soon as she could get Belfort to court, she would submit him to finish his deposition. He lives in California, she confirmed.
The judge seemed skeptical of the notion that Belfort might not be able to make his payments for restitution and other penalties.
“Seems like he has some spare change lying around,” Donnelly said, though later Cohen Levin claimed her client was “actually…quite cash-strapped” and needed money to make tax payments.