"I don't deserve to die in prison for what I've done.”
- Scott Rothstein
Having been conspicuously absent from the South Florida scene for several years while serving his 50-year sentence for orchestrating a massive $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, Scott Rothstein certainly made a splash as he re-emerged to testify at the trial of one of his former colleagues facing charges she assisted his fraud. Rothstein, sporting handcuffs and leg irons and looking noticeably thinner after having dropped 70 pounds from his pre-incarceration weight of 230 pounds, took the stand in a West Palm Beach federal courtroom Wednesday morning - this time as a witness, not a defendant. Rothstein was called by attorneys for former colleague Christina M. Kitterman, who is facing three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for her alleged role in his scheme.
While his figure was noticeably thinner, Rothstein wasted no time in reverting back to his former larger-than-life persona, testifying with considerable latitude about his scheme that rocked the Fort Lauderdale community and resulted in the bankruptcy of his former powerhouse firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler ("RRA"). While at RRA, Rothstein hired Kitterman after meeting her during his stint as an adjunct professor at a local law school. It was during her tenure at RRA that prosecutors allege she agreed to assume the identity of a Florida Bar Association official during a meeting with investors who were concerned about Rothstein's failure to make timely interest payments. According to Rothstein, Kitterman told those investors that Rothstein's RRA accounts had been frozen in connection with a pending bar investigation.
But the allegations over Kitterman's status as a co-conspirator soon took a back seat as Rothstein willingly began providing other details about his scheme that were previously unknown. For example, Rothstein volunteered that he and Kitterman had a "friends with benefits" relationship that even featured an instance out of work where Kitterman "pulled me into a bathroom stall to make out with me."
Rothstein also regaled jurors with tales of the considerable influence he had amassed from his rising stature. This included his claim that the Sheriff's office made an unlawful arrest of the ex-wife of his friend, Douglas L. Bates, at his request. Bates was charged alongside Kitterman and is awaiting trial. Additionally, Rothstein bragged of his close friendships with well-known politicians, including former Florida governor Charlie Crist and Senator John McCain. By making large contributions to their campaigns and hosting numerous fundraisers, Rothstein was able to add to his aura of legitimacy by appearing close with those politicians. This also earned Rothstein a coveted appointment by Crist on a local judicial nominating commission.
Rothstein was also not shy about the true motivation for his cooperation, and readily listed off his contributions that he hopes will one day result in a reduction in his 50-year prison sentence. This cooperation included testimony that has resulted in convictions of former friends and associates, including his wife, as well as his claim that he helped the government recover $350 million for his victims.
Rothstein is not currently scheduled to be released until approximately 2053 - when he will be nearly 90 years old.