"Mr. Benjamin, while wearing the cloak of BSO authority, engineered the arrest and incarceration of an innocent citizen. This was done purely for financial gain. This conduct is deplorable — it is unconscionable."
- U.S. District Judge James Cohn
A former Broward County Sheriff's Lieutenant received the maximum prison sentence after pleading guilty to serving as convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's personal de facto enforcer, including the illegal arrest of one of the ex-wife of one of Rothstein's colleagues on trumped-up drug charges. David Benjamin, once the third-most powerful official in the Broward County Sheriff's Office, received the sentence from U.S. District Judge James Cohn after previously pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud through extortion and violation of civil rights. In an indication of the high-charged emotional atmosphere of the sentencing, the woman ordered to be arrested on the drug charges was given the opportunity to confront Benjamin directly and later saw him taken into custody.
Benjamin, who once oversaw the police department's internal affairs division, received nearly $200,000 in cash and jewelry from Rothtein in return for carrying out a myriad of tasks. This included ordering a local prostitute to leave Florida after Rothstein learned she might expose her relationship with Stuart Rosenfeldt, Rothstein's partner. Benjamin also provided Rothstein with an armed escort in October 2009 as he made his to way with $500,000 in a duffel bag to a waiting plane on a Ft. Lauderdale tarmac that would take Rothstein to Morocco as his scheme was collapsing.
But the favor that has drawn the most attention was when Benjamin, at Rothstein's insistence, ordered a subordinate to arrest the ex-wife of Rothstein colleague Douglas Bates. The ex-wife was cited for the possession of illegal prescription drugs, but the charges were later dropped when it was revealed that the "illegal drugs" were in reality her son's autism medication. Citing her 18-hour tenure in jail, the woman has claimed that she now suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Benjamin was suspended in January 2013 as one of the first priorities of a newly-elected Sheriff Scott Israel. Both he and Detective Jeff Poole - who made the arrest of Bates' ex-wife - were arrested in April 2014 and subsequently pleaded guilty one month later. Judge James Cohn, who indicated that he would have handed down a longer sentence if possible, also ordered Benjamin to pay $22,071 in restitution to Bates' ex-wife.
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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