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January 27, 2010

Another lawyer Ponzi schemer now looking at a long federal sentence

As detailed in Bloomberg News report, another infamous Ponzi schemer has now formally entered a guilty plea in federal court, and he can now only hope he gets a sentence more in line with similar Ponzi player/lawyer Marc Dreier (who got 20 years), rather than something similar to the 150 years given to the modern Ponzi king Bernie Maddoff.  Here are the basics:

Former South Florida lawyer Scott Rothstein pleaded guilty to using his law firm as a criminal enterprise to run a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that funded a lavish lifestyle, bankrolled his firm and bought political influence.

Rothstein, 47, admitted guilt today to two counts of wire fraud and three conspiracy charges before U.S. District Judge James Cohn in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  He faces as much as 100 years in prison at a May 6 sentencing.  “My concern here is with innocent victims whose money is being held up,” Cohn today told prosecutors, whom he directed to file papers explaining how they’ll recover investors’ money.

Rothstein sold investors discounted stakes in fraudulent settlements of sexual-harassment and whistleblower lawsuits, which ranged from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, he admitted today in a document accompanying his guilty plea.  He confessed he told investors they would collect the full proceeds when the cases settled. “Defendant Rothstein was aware that no such clients or requests for business financing actually existed,” according to the Jan. 25 court papers, which were made public today....

Rothstein used the money from the scheme to keep afloat his firm, pay employees, rent office space and buy equipment, he admitted.  He and others instructed law firm employees to contribute to the campaigns of local, state and federal politicians in a way that evaded limits on such donations and disguised the true sources of the money, prosecutors alleged. Many of the donations were returned after the accusations against Rothstein became public....

Rothstein used proceeds from his crimes to buy 18 pieces of property in Florida; two in Narragansett, Rhode Island; and three residences in New York City, prosecutors have said in court papers.  He had a white Lamborghini, a red Ferrari Spider, 304 pieces of jewelry and a collection of sports memorabilia.

As always, readers are encouraged to make any and all early sentencing recommendations or predictions.

January 27, 2010 at 07:27 PM | Permalink

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