Scott Rothstein, the infamous south Florida ex-lawyer serving a 50-year prison sentence for a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, is scheduled to make his first public appearance this week since his 2011 sentencing as a witness at the trial of a former colleague accused of assisting his scheme. The trial of Christina M. Kitterman, a former attorney in Rothstein's now-defunct law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler ("RRA"), began today as prosecutors sought to empanel a jury that was unfamiliar with Rothstein's perpetration of the fourth-largest Ponzi scheme in history. Kitterman is facing three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each of which carries up to a 20-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.
Rothstein began cooperating with prosecutors after his arrest in December 2009, and has provided an undisclosed amount of cooperation since his 50-year sentence was handed down in June 2010. At a civil deposition, Rothstein readily singled out those who he felt were complicit in his scheme, including former RRA lawyers Kitterman and Douglas L. Bates. According to Rothstein, Kitterman agreed to pose as the head of the Ft. Lauderdale office of the Florida Bar Association during an April 2009 meeting with certain investors who were searching for an explanation as to why Rothstein had fallen behind on payments. Kitterman, alleged Rothstein, falsely stated to those investors that Rothstein's RRA accounts had been frozen in connection with a pending bar investigation of Rothstein.
Kitterman's lawyer has denied the charges, claiming that Kitterman received no compensation from Rothstein for participating in the alleged meeting. Additionally, Rothstein supposedly named another lawyer - not Kitterman - as the one that participated in the investor meeting. Citing these reasons, defense lawyers successfully argued that introducing Rothstein's testimony via deposition alone - as sought by prosecutors - was not sufficient, and District Judge Daniel T. Hurley issued an order in November 2013 allowing Rothstein's live testimony provided the defense agreed to be responsible for the estimated $40,000+ cost. After questions were raised about the constitutionality of that order, it was recently reported that a subsequent verbal order mandated that the taxpayers foot the bill for Rothstein's appearance.
Part of the hesitancy to produce Rothstein as a live witness is due to his rumored membership in the federal witness protection program resulting from his cooperation that lead to criminal charges against a member of the Italian mafia. Indeed, a search for "Scott Rothstein" in the Bureau of Prison's Inmate Locator yields zero results. Additionally, Justice Department prosecutors were present at Rothstein's prior civil depositions and instructed Rothstein not to answer some questions.
For more news and analysis of Ponzi schemes, visit Ponzitracker, a blog by Jordan Maglich, an attorney at Wiand Guerra King P.L.
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