Rothstein Ex-Associate Changes Plea, Will Plead Guilty

Just one week after another former colleague of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein was convicted of fraud charges, another colleague filed court papers indicating he planned to enter a guilty plea to similar charges.  Douglas L. Bates, 54, had been scheduled to stand trial next week based on his role in Rothstein's $1.4 billion scheme.  

Bates was indicted along with former Rothstein associate Christina Kitterman back in August 2013.  The two were former attorneys at Rothstein's Ft Lauderdale law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler ("RRA"), which at one point had over seventy attorneys and was a prominent South Florida law firm.  Both were accused of providing assistance to Rothstein as he purported to offer hefty returns to investors by brokering secret lawsuit settlements.  While Kitterman was accused of impersonating a Florida Bar official in a meeting with investors, authorities accused Bates of assisting Rothstein in inflating legal bills and signing a false letter.  

Both Kitterman and Bates maintained their innocence, and Kitterman was the first to stand trial.  In a controversial decision, Kitterman elected to call Scott Rothstein himself to the witness stand and also decided to testify in her own defense.  Both moves were widely questioned, with Rothstein providing testimony that incriminated Kitterman while the veracity of Kitterman's testimony was later questioned by the presiding judge who warned that a perjury charge was possible.

It is likely Bates' attorneys were regarding Kitterman's trial as a test case to gauge how Bates might later fare at his trial.  U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks has scheduled a change-of-plea hearing for 10 a.m. Thursday, and prosecutors have filed a superseding indictment charging Bates with a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, and it remains to be seen whether the plea agreement will contain a lower recommendation.