National News

Boyfriend of Bethenny Frankel Found Dead in Trump Tower

Posted August 10, 2018 8:05 p.m. EDT

NEW YORK — The boyfriend of television personality and author Bethenny Frankel was found dead in his Trump Tower apartment Friday morning of an apparent overdose, the police said.

Dennis Shields, 51, chief executive of LawCash, collapsed and lost consciousness Friday shortly after he sent his assistant to a pharmacy to buy Narcan — an antidote for opioid overdoses — because he was feeling ill, the police said. The assistant returned with the drug, but it did not help Shields. Emergency medical technicians who were called to his apartment — No. 42B — could not revive him, the police said.

The police said it appeared that Shields had taken too much of the painkiller OxyContin, but a spokeswoman at the medical examiner’s office said a cause of death had not been determined. It remained unclear if the drug was prescribed to Shields or not.

The police were called to Trump Tower at about 9:20 a.m., and Shields was pronounced dead just before 10:15 a.m., the authorities said.

For several years, Shields has been romantically linked to Frankel, who is known for founding Skinnygirl Cocktails and for appearing in several reality shows, notably “Real Housewives of New York City.” They had dated since 2016, but were friends for many years. She described him in a recent television interview as someone she had been with “on and off for years,” and said the relationship was “like a partnership.”

Shields was a native New Yorker, the son of Gail Shields, a lawyer, and Dr. Lawrence Shields, a neurologist. He graduated from New York University and went into business, starting his career with a medical services company. His social circle included Michael D. Cohen, who was President Donald Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer.

Since the late 1990s, Shields has been a prime mover in the world of litigation financing and legal banking services. He was a founder of Esquire Bank, a small New York-based lender, where he most recently served as executive chairman. Esquire specializes in providing loans to personal injury lawyers. “We are heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend,” said Andrew Sagliocca, president of Esquire.

Shields also was chairman of YieldStreet, a relatively new online platform that permits wealthy investors to buy stakes in financing deals put together by small consumer lenders.

But he may be best known for his role as one of the founders of LawCash, a consumer finance company that specializes in providing cash advances to plaintiffs with pending personal injury lawsuits. The firm, based in Brooklyn, is one of the nation’s largest provider of such financing, which enable litigants to borrow against the anticipated settlement or jury verdict in a lawsuit.

The death of Shields came as a shock to his co-workers at LawCash. “Dennis Shields was a unique and visionary person,” said Harvey R. Hirschfeld, president of LawCash. “His friends and work family at LawCash all feel a sense of great shock and loss, and all of our thoughts and prayers are with Dennis’ family at this extraordinarily difficult time.”