Florida Cops Face Conspiracy Charges In Rothstein Ponzi Scheme

Federal authorities filed conspiracy charges against two suspended Ft. Lauderdale sheriff's deputies for allegedly abusing their law enforcement duties to assist convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein - including the illegal arrest of an ex-wife of a Rothstein acquaintance.  Lt. David Benjamin, 48, of Boca Raton, Florida, and Detective Jeff Poole, 47, of Weston, Florida, are each accused of accepting over $100,000 in cash and gifts from Rothstein in connection with their role in the allegedly illegal arrest of the ex-wife of one of Rothstein's legal acquaintances.  Benjamin was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and violate civil rights, while Poole was charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights.  

Before his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme collapsed, Rothstein regularly hired Broward county police officers for personal protection, including round-the-clock patrols at his residence.  Indeed, as the scheme unraveled in mid-October 2009, Rothstein solicited Benjamin to provide a police escort to a waiting plane bound for Morocco.  Before boarding the plane, Rothstein allegedly gave Benjamin a luxury watch from his extensive collection.  Benjamin ultimately returned the watch, along with $30,000 in compensation from Rothstein, to the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee.

According to authorities, the charges emanated from the June 2009 arrest of the ex-wife of Rothstein's legal acquaintance, Douglas Bates.  According to reports, Poole received a telephone call from Benjamin ordering him to arrest Bates' ex-wife on fictitious drug charges in an attempt to deal Bates the upper hand in child custody proceedings.  Investigators alleged that Benjamin was paid $1,000 by Rothstein for his assistance.   In total, Benjamin allegedly received $153,500 in cash and $30,000 in jewelry and tickets to sporting events.  Benjamin and Poole were suspended without pay in January 2013.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, both men were charged via criminal information, suggesting that a plea agreement is likely forthcoming.