Tuesday, December 01, 2009

FBI Arrests Scott Rothstein On Racketeering Charges

The high-flying days of Ft. Lauderdale SuperLawyer Scott Rothstein have come to a crashing halt. The Miami Herald reports on Rothstein's arrest today:

Scott Rothstein, the flashy Fort Lauderdale attorney who authorities say ran a $1.2 billion investment scam while acting like a philanthropic tycoon, faces up to 100 years in prison on federal racketeering, conspiracy and fraud charges.

Rothstein, who had fled to Morocco in late October but returned in early November, was arrested early Tuesday by federal agents and pleaded not guilty to the five charges, including a RICO conspiracy starting in 2005.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Rosenbaum ordered that Rothstein, 47, be held before trial at the government's request, citing a risk of flight. The defendant and his attorney did not contest it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Schwartz not only highlighted Rothstein's Ponzi scheme but also addressed the lawyer's fraudulent representation of car-dealership mogul Ed Morse. Schwartz accused Rothstein of forging the signatures of federal and appellate judges to bilk Morse out of $57 million arising from a contract dispute with interior decorator -- using that money to perpetuate his investment scam.

Rothstein, whose hands were cuffed in front of him, wore blue jeans and a brown and black T-shirt, exuding a casual and confident demeanor. When Rothstein sat down in court, he leaned back and swiveled in his chair and surveyed the rows of federal agents and reporters crammed into to the courtroom. He smiled at several points and winked at a reporter as he was escorted out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals.

He was processed by the U.S. Marshals around 8:30 a.m. in Fort Lauderdale.

While under federal watch in November, Rothstein cooperated with prosecutors and provided them with details of his Ponzi scheme, involving the sale of fabricated legal settlements to wealthy investors. FBI and IRS agents also raided his Fort Lauderdale law office and seized his waterfront home and other assets.

Stuart Rosenfeldt, co-owner of Rothstein's law firm, said Tuesday morning he was relieved to hear that his former law partner and friend had been arrested.

``I'm just relieved,'' he said. ``It's bothered me that he did such bad things and appeared to be free.''

Rothstein could not be reached for comment on Monday, and his attorney, Marc Nurik, declined to say anything about his client's imminent arrest.

Florida Republicans have been reeling since the disclosure of his billion-dollar Ponzi scheme just weeks ago. Rothstein lavished huge contributions on many of the state's top Republicans, including Gov. Charlie Christ. Note that the feds didn't blink in seizing the assets of Rothstein weeks before filing formal criminal charges against him.

7 comments:

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

So the Super Lawyer book is the directory of attorneys who are to be avoided?

Advance Indiana said...

Melyssa, SuperLawyer designations are essentially bought by agreeing to purchase advertising in the directory. I don't know why our Supreme Court hasn't outlawed this form of advertising. It is quite deceptive to say the least.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

So any ambulance chaser who can afford the back page of the phone book can also be a "super lawyer"?

I used to sell yellow pages and I can tell you first hand that the phone book doesn't care who they publicize with ads as long as they fork over the cash.

Sounds like Super Lawyers is just a glorified yellow pages. LOL!

Thank goodness that on line consumer reviews are available these days. Referrals are the way to go when you need to hire a professional, not a pay-to-play directory.

Downtown Indy said...

There's another one or those designations that a chubby local lawyer was using for awhile. Ah, I remember - it was 'Hard Hitting.'

There was a case in the news where some other lawyer was accused of calling himself 'THE Hard Hitting Lawyer' and he had to change that because he was not unique. There were all these other 'Hard Hitting' lawyers. So that's what happened, they turned into 'A Hard Hitting Lawyer.'

It was some sort of PR company branding package, apparently, and they got TV graphics and other materials to boost their appearances. The local guy was fighting a dragon in one commercial, I think. Or something like that.

Funny, though, I can't remember the local guy's name. I only remember he seemed like a doofus whom I'd never hire in a million years.

Downtown Indy said...

No wait, it was 'Heavy Hitter.' Meh, I was close. That local law-talkin' guy WAS pretty heavy, so I guess that makes sense - kinda.

Nick said...

Don't forget that Abramoff is still cooperating while in protective custody.

Paul K. Ogden said...

DI,

I actually like the "heavy hitter' commercial. They are funny. We lawyers take ourselves way too seriously.

Unless someone is going to repeal the First Amendment, I have no problem with lawyers advertising.

The "Super Lawyer" designation by a third party though misleads the public into believing the attorneys named are somehow better than other attorneys. It's all about buying advertising.

I notice Indianapolis Monthly did the same thing with doctors recently. You buy advertising, you're named as one of the top doctors in the city.