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Federal government finally charges south florida lawyer

Posted on December 02, 2009 3:00 AM EST

Federal prosecutors finally got around to filing charges against former Ft. Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein. He appeared in a crowded Broward federal courtroom to finally face charges for operating a $1.2 billion "Ponzi" scheme. Rothstein was present with his well know Ft. Lauderdale and Miami criminal lawyer when he entered a not guilty plea. Rothstein was charged by information with five felony counts including wire fraud and racketeering. He appeared before a U.S. magistrate for his initial appearance and bond hearing. Rothstein was held without bail for being a flight risk. Anyone being charged for operating a scheme to defraud or "Ponzi" scheme should immediately retain a Miami criminal fraud lawyer to defend the case.

Rothstein is alleged to have orchestrated one of the largest frauds in the history of South Florida and Miami. Federal prosecutors believe that Rothstein created fictitious settlements and sold them off to various investors. The purported settlements related to employment claims, such as sexual harassment and other labor law issues. He would pay old investors with new investor funds. Rothstein allegedly spend his ill-gotten gains on purchases of expensive homes, automobiles and jewelry. He also made large contributions the Democratic and Republican parties. Despite the fact that Rothstein is a first time offender, the magnitude of the fraud subjects him to a life sentence.

The current suspicion is that Rothstein is attempting to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities and prosecutors in an attempt to limit his exposure. Several facts lead to this conclusion. Rothstein was charged by information rather than by an indictment. Anyone facing federal charges is entitled to have a grand jury hear the evidence and submit an indictment to the trial court. Also, Rothstein is facing life in prison. Depending on the strength of the case, Rothman may have to enter a guilty plea and provide information against his co-conspirators. The entry of a guilty will allow the U.S. district judge to deviate from the federal sentencing guidelines.

In addition to putting Rothstein behind bars, prosecutors have also filed asset forfeiture documents seeking to claim millions of the dollar's worth of real estate, expensive automobiles and jewelry, and cash. Investors hope the forfeited assets will help them reclaim their investments. The acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida was quoted as saying, "This case is a glaring example of greed run amok. He sought to buy power at the expensive of his clients and instead bought himself a lengthy prison sentence." Only time will tell what will happen to Rothstein, but it appears as if a lengthy prison sentence is in the cards.

Lawyer's Alleged Fraud a Case of 'Greed Run Amok', Law.com, December 2, 2009.

Categories: Fraud