Rothstein Draws 50-Year Sentence

June 10th, 2010 by

Source: Wall Street Journal — A former Florida lawyer, Scott Rothstein, was on Wednesday sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to running a Ponzi scheme out of his law office.

Federal prosecutors alleged Mr. Rothstein defrauded investors out of $1.2 billion.

Lawyers for Mr. Rothstein, who turns 48 years old Thursday, had requested a sentence of 30 years, arguing leniency was warranted because of his extensive cooperation with prosecutors after his arrest. Federal prosecutors had asked for 40 years.

But U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn imposed a longer sentence for Mr. Rothstein, though less than the maximum 100 years the former attorney faced under the sentencing guidelines for his five felony convictions.

In January, Mr. Rothstein admitted to conspiring with others to lure investors into spending millions to buy stakes in legal settlements that Mr. Rothstein’s law firm purportedly had struck in employment disputes.

In fact, the settlement agreements were fabricated by the conspirators.

The former attorney, who was disbarred last year, had built a prominent, 75-lawyer firm in Fort Lauderdale, and he became well known in South Florida because of his lavish spending on cars and homes.

He also was known for his close ties to politicians in the state.

Marc Nurik, a lawyer for Mr. Rothstein, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

In a statement, the U.S. attorney in Miami, Wifredo A. Ferrer, said: “Today’s sentence punishes the defendant for his thievery, and hopefully brings some sense of justice to the victims of this massive fraud.”

Mr. Rothstein and his co-conspirators also admitted to using funds from their Ponzi scheme to make political contributions to state and federal candidates in violation of campaign-finance rules.

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