A company and a lawyer for trusts associated with Kaplan asked a federal judge last week to order electronic data and communications associated with email accounts, cell phones and computers belonging to Aguiar and his mother, Ellen Aguiar, be preserved because the trusts “have an interest in determining Aguiar’s whereabouts and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.” Judge Patricia Seitz on Friday granted the request to preserve data created on or after April 1, which extends to telecommunication service providersAT&Tand AOL.
According to a court filing made last week in federal court in Florida, Kaplan’s lawyers said “Aguiar disappeared under suspicious circumstance after taking his boat out into the Atlantic Ocean” and that “Aguiar’s mother, Ellen Aguiar, has indicated that she believes he may be alive but in a psychotic state.” Kaplan’s camp has indicated in legal papers that they remain hopeful Aguiar is alive and specifically emphasized the preservation of “any electronic data related to Aguiar’s disappearance, including any electronic communications between Aguiar and Ellen Aguiar.”
“I don’t believe Ellen knows where Guma is,” Robert Baron, Ellen Aguiar’s lawyer, said in a statement. “She is hopeful he’s alive, but her hope is diminishing daily.”
Ellen has been locked in litigation with Kaplan, her brother, alleging that Kaplan had her and her family improperly removed as contingent and potential beneficiaries of trusts that held about $2 billion from the East Texas gas bonanza. Kaplan has denied wrongdoing and won the only ruling in the case so far, much like he has overwhelming won his legal battles with Aguiar, his nephew who worked with him on the East Texas gas find. Kaplan and Aguiar have been fighting each other in nasty litigation for years.
Aguiar disappeared after venturing into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in is 31-foot boat. The boat was found on a Ft. Lauderdale beach with Aguiar’s cell phone and wallet on board; the search for him has been called off.
Ellen and Aguiar’s wife, Jamie Aguiar, have both tried to secure control of about $100 million of Aguiar’s assets and both attended a Florida state court hearing last Thursday. Lawyers reached an agreement at the hearing thatNorthern Trustwill oversee most of Aguiar’s assets and that lawyer Glenn Goldstein may be appointed to make decisions on the expensive lawsuits with which Aguiar has been involved. It was suggested during the hearing that Aguiar might have staged his own disappearance to deal with his legal and marital problems,theMiamiHeraldreported.
Kaplan has been trying to retrieve some $200 million of the natural gas prize that was paid to Aguiar by pressing breach fiduciary duty and fraudulent inducement claims in a lawsuit filed against Aguiar by Leor Energy, Kaplan’s company. The legal battle has been a strange one and included allegations that Aguiar hacked into Kaplan’s email account and made threatening phone calls to Kaplan’s home. The latest legal round is no exception as Judge Seitz also ordered Leor Energy, the trusts and their agents, if they posses it, to preserve any surveillance material of Aguiar obtained prior or after his disappearance.