A former name partner in convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's now-defunct massive law firm has been criminally charged for his role in funneling illegal campaign contributions to prominent politicians including Senator John McCain and Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist. Russell Adler, 52, was charged with a single count of conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act in a criminal information filed last week. The use of a criminal information suggests that a plea deal has been reached between Adler and the authorities. While the charge carries a maximum five-year sentence, federal sentencing guidelines mean that Adler could serve from 1.5 years to 3 years in prison.
Adler was a prominent trial attorney in Fort Lauderdale, and was a name partner in Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler until Rothstein's scheme collapsed in 2009. According to authorities, Adler assisted Rothstein in making hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to John McCain and Charlie Crist in 2009 and 2009. Rothstein made the contributions in an effort to increase his influence in South Florida politics - including his appointment to a prestigious judicial nominating commission. In an effort to funnel the maximum amount to his selected candidates, Rothstein enlisted various RRA employees, including administrative staff, lawyers, and Adler, to contribute to the McCain and Crist campaigns by promising to provide reimbursement for the contributions. In total, Rothstein reimbursed Adler nearly $300,000 - including at least $239,000 in contributions to Crist's failed 2010 Senate campaign that placed RRA as the second-largest contributor.
According to Adler's attorney, Fred Haddad, the recent convictions of former Rothstein lawyers Christina Kitterman and Douglas Bates played a role in the decision to approach the government and negotiate a plea agreement. Importantly, Haddad expects that the campaign finance conspiracy will resolve all of Adler's potential criminal liability - meaning that no charges are expected for any allegations that Adler knew of or assisted Rothstein's fraud. While Adler is currently serving a 91-day suspension from practicing law, his subsequent guilty plea to a felony could result in his permanent disbarment.
A copy of the Indictment is below (h/t to Ponzi Clawbacks)