Kim Rothstein, whose husband Scott is serving a 50-year sentence for masterminding Florida's largest Ponzi scheme, could face prison time of her own when she pleads guilty February 1 to a federal conspiracy charge. Mrs. Rothstein, along with four others, was charged back in September with conspiring to conceal over $1 million in jewelry from federal authorities, including a $450,000 diamond ring tipping the scales at 12.08 carats. While the conspiracy charge carries a maximum five-year prison term, Mrs. Rothstein is likely to face a much lower sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.
After Rothstein's scheme unraveled in October 2009, federal authorities were dispatched to his residence in early November to secure his collection of jewelry and luxury items that included hundreds of thousands of dollars in watches. Kim Rothstein assisted authorities in gathering the jewelry, and represented that she was not aware of any other jewelry subject to potential forfeiture.
However, the bankruptcy trustee appointed to investigate Rothstein's fraud and recover assets for investors soon learned that some jewelry remained unaccounted for, including the 12.08 carat diamond ring purchased by Rothstein from a local jeweler. This jewelry included:
- An engagement ring and wedding band with 18 emerald cut diamonds;
- 10 watches, including a Rolex with leopard design, a woman's Piaget and a platinum/diamond Pierre Kunz;
- 5 sets of earrings, several necklaces, and a variety of gold coins;
- Pearl, diamond, and sapphire cufflinks, and 50 1-ounce gold bars
The trustee then deposed Rothstein and several of her acquaintances, learning under oath that the missing jewelry had been concealed by Rothstein, with one of Rothstein's friends selling the 12-carat ring to a local jeweler. Rothstein's former attorney, Scott Saidel, even agreed to hold some of the proceeds from the sale in his attorney trust account to stymie investigators.
Rothstein, her friend, and Rothstein's former attorney were each charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jeweler and a businessman that assisted in the sale were accused of lying under oath, and currently face obstruction of justice and perjury charges.
Rothstein's decision to plead guilty came as trial could have commenced as early as next week. The nature of the charging documents had suggested that plea deals were likely, but Rothstein had initially entered a "not guilty" plea. Rothstein's acquaintance is also expected to plead guilty on February 1st, while Saidel is scheduled to appear January 25. Saidel's situation is unclear, since as an attorney, Saidel could face scrutiny from the Florida Bar with a felony conviction.