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Michael Tein, lawyer for fugitive Ecuador bankers implicated in Bob Menendez investigation, ducks questions

@MarcACaputo

Give this to Michael Tein: he knows how to duck questions about his clients, Roberto Isaias Dassum and William Isaias Dassum.

A New York TV station reported last night that the Coral Gables brothers are allegedly mixed up in a federal investigation into New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, to whom they have contributed. The oft-investigated Democrat had reportedly intervened on behalf of the pair, who are campaign contributors, as they fought extradition to Ecuador, where a leftist government had seized as much as $400 million in family businesses and convicted them in absentia of embezzlement.

Menendez's office denied any wrongdoing in helping out the brothers, a routine function.

In June a Miami-Dade judge ruled the government of Ecuador could not seize as much as $20 million of the Isaias assets in the United States, where they fled in 2003.

“This is a huge victory for international justice over tyranny, especially in Miami, where so many of our residents are refugees of dictatorships like Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador,” Tein said at the time, according to a Law360.com article.

But when it came to the latest revelations by NBC 4 New York, Tein wouldn't comment to The Herald, with which he has warred over our coverage of his tussle with two former clients, leading to a $50,000 fine for Tein's firm last year.

Here's the transcript, as taken by long hand (I didn't record because I didn't ask for nor receive his permission):

Q: Hi, this is Marc Caputo with The Miami Herald. I was hoping to discuss the recent report about your clients, the Isaias brothers, and a federal investigation concerning Sen. Bob Menendez.

A: I'm sorry. Your phone broke up. Who is this?

Q: It's Marc Caputo with The Miami Herald I was hoping to discuss your clients, the Isaias brothers -- I'm sorry if I'm mispronouncing their last names -- and a New York TV station's report the recent report concerning them and a federal investigation tied to Sen. Bob Menendez.

A: Who gave you my number?

Q: A mutual acquaintance...

A: Who? I saw the 850 area code and I figured you were a client of mine in Tallahassee.

Q: Yes. I was based in Tallahassee and now live here but I kept my Tallahassee cellphone.

A: Can you tell me who gave you my cellphone?

Q: I'll tell you what: I'll answer that if you tell me if A) if you heard about this New York report B) If you're clients are involved in any sort of investigation and C) if it involved Bob Menendez?

A: I'm sorry, i'm in my car right now

Q: OK, so i'll just say you refused to comment about your clients....

A: why are you upset?

Q: I'm not upset

A: You sound upset

Q: I'm not upset. You can keep saying that. And you can keep answering my questions with questions to avoid answering. I have people who duck my questions all the time. It doesn't upset me. It's part of the job. Now, do should I just throw on our political blog that I put you down for no comment?

A: Marc, you're on speaker phone. I'm taking my 11 y/o daughter to school...

Q: OK, why dont you take me off speaker phone and answer the question?

A: Why don't you call me back in 30 minutes when you're calm?

Q: I'm calm. You're just not answering. So it's 9 now. I'll call you back at 9:30...

A: Are you in the Miami Herald office?

Q: I can't be. We just went over the fact that I called you from a cellphone number. I'm in my car, too.

A: I don't even know if you are who you say you are. Call me back in 30 minutes with an editor on the line from a Miami Herald number.

Q: I'll call you back, but I won't be in the office...

Hangs up

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