Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Scott Rothstein sentenced to 50 years















Rothstein's Wife, Kimberly (in black), leaves the courtroom visibly upset after her husband's sentencing

An apologetic Scott Rothstein was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison today for masterminding a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $1.2 billion.


The disbarred Fort Lauderdale lawyer had pleaded guilty to conducting the financial scam that funded his high-flying lifestyle and bankrolled millions of dollars in contributions to politicians and political parties.

His appearance in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale attracted hordes of media outside the courthouse. Rothstein's parents, Harvey and Gay, and his wife, Kim, were present for the sentencing, which occurred in the standing-room-only courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Cohn.

Appearing thinner, with closely shorn gray hair and a goatee, a shackled Rothstein addressed the judge and the packed courtroom, saying, "I am truly and deeply sorry for what I have done. I don't expect your forgiveness."

Hoping to reduce a term that could have run up to 100 years, Rothstein cooperated with federal authorities -- even wearing a wire -- over the past five months.

Rothstein, who turns 48 on Thursday, handed the government "a 'play by play' description of all of the intricate details of his crimes, as well as the crimes of others," Rothstein attorney Marc Nurik stated in a letter to the judge prior to sentencing.

In March, federal authorities arrested a suspected Italian Mafia member living in Miami Beach after Rothstein wore a wire to set up the case.

In a separate letter to Judge Cohn, Rothstein admitted he lost his "moral compass" while building his law firm. ``I was a criminal. I defrauded people I loved,'' he wrote.


While attorney Nurik asked for a reduced sentence of 30 years, prosecutors pushed for 40 years to life.

"(Rothstein) has brought shame on the legal profession," prosecutor Lawrence LaVecchio wrote to the court. "He has caused the collapse of a (70-attorney) law firm ... His actions have adversely affected legitimate charitable organizations.

"In perpetrating his scheme, he even had the audacity to forge the signatures of three different members of the federal judiciary on bogus court orders."

Cohn cited Rothstein’s forgeries as a key determinant in today's sentencing.

“These actions constitute the most egregious wrongs a licensed attorney can commit. There can be no conduct more reviled," said Cohn, who was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush.

Last week, a U.S. Treasury Department auction of Rothstein's pricey fleet of yachts and luxury automobiles netted nearly $5.8 million to partially reimburse victims of his financial schemes.

The largest outstanding claim comes from the trustee for Rothstein's bankrupt law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt and Adler, which says that more than $469 million is being sought by creditors and former investors.

Creditors appealed to the court to bring justice by requiring restitution.

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