Ponzi scheme lawyer wants US to cut 50-year sentence

MIAMI – a disbarred Florida lawyer sentenced for orchestrating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme wants prosecutors to keep their promise to his 50-year prison term, citing his extensive cooperation.

This usually offers call for about a third less, but the government in September asked to withdraw its offer to cut Scott Rothstein’s prison sentence, contending that he violated his plea agreement by providing false information and lying.

The lawyer of Rothstein said in court documents Monday that Rothstein deserves a less sentence because he voluntarily returned to Fort Lauderdale from Morocco in 2009 when the scam fell apart and helped convict more than two dozen people involved.

The newspapers say Rothstein was also an important role in the conviction of a Mafia gangster with connections to New York’s Gambino crime family, involved corrupt local law enforcement, who went to jail and wore a recording device at Miami’s downtown federal prison to help investigators in other non-related cases.

There, lawyer Marc Nurik wrote in court papers, Rothstein was “literally caught with the people he was gathering information about.”

Rothstein, 55, pleaded guilty in 2010 to running a massive fraud scheme surrounding investments in fake legal settlements. He was disbarred as a lawyer and his downtown Fort Lauderdale law firm closed.

Nurik noted that the dozens of victims of Rothstein’s scheme, ultimately, were fully compensated and said that the government’s motion to withdraw the sentence reduction offer gives no details of how Rothstein supposedly violated his plea agreement.

“Not one fact is stated. Rothstein could not be expected to swing wildly at ghosts,” the paper said, adding that the 50-year prison sentence “for him is tantamount to life in prison.”

The Rothstein motion asks Senior U.s. District Judge James Cohn to a hearing, so that the plaintiffs would have to detail the plea agreement violations. It will be up to Cohn to decide whether officers of justice to withdraw their penalty reduction offer.

In general, federal prosecutors have sole discretion to make such offers and demands that the defendants be truthful as a condition.


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