Federal authorities continued their quest to prosecute those connected to the massive $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Scott Rothstein, with Rothstein's former CFO becoming the 18th person to face charges to date. Irene Shannon, f/k/a Irene Stay, was charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank fraud. The charge carries a maximum prison term of five years as well as up to a $250,000 fine. Shannon was charged in a criminal information, which suggests that a plea agreement is likely.
According to authorities, Shannon was Rothstein's "trusted agent," carrying out Rothstein's directions to shuffle hundreds of millions of dollars between investors, sustain the law firm's operations, and keep the scheme afloat. This even included collaborating with Rothstein to determine the fictitious returns that investors thought were derived from lucrative purported legal settlements that, in reality, did not exist.
Shannon's name has come up frequently since Rothstein's sentencing, including testimony from former chief operating officer Debra Villegas that Shannon played the most important role in the scheme. Additionally, Rothstein himself testified at a deposition that Shannon definitely knew what she was doing when he asked her to move around millions of dollars. Of course, Rothstein has made it no secret that he is actively cooperating with prosecutors in an effort to eventually win a reduction in his 50-year prison sentence.
With the charges, Shannon becomes the 18th person to be charged in connection with Rothstein's fraud - ranking even above the prosecutions in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, which to date has resulted in 14 convictions.