The wife of Scott Rothstein, a disbarred Florida attorney who ran a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, pleaded guilty to hiding $1 million in jewelry from U.S. authorities trying to seize his assets to repay investors.
Kimberly Wendell Rothstein, 38, admitted today in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that she lied after Internal Revenue Service agents tried to confiscate the jewelry, including a 12-carat yellow diamond ring. A friend of hers, Stacie Weisman, 49, also pleaded guilty.
Scott Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison term, amassed tens of millions of dollars in real estate, cars, boats, watches, jewelry and sports memorabilia, authorities said. After he agreed to plead guilty and forfeit his illegal gains, his wife held back some jewelry when federal agents showed up on Nov. 9, 2009, she admitted.
“Kimberly Rothstein, Weisman, and others sold or attempted to sell a portion of the missing jewelry to and through various persons,” according to a statement of facts filed in court today that Kimberly Rothstein admitted.
Both women pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Sentencing for Rothstein will be on April 19; for Weisman, June 7.
On Jan. 30, attorney Scott Saidel, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his role in the scheme. Two other men, Eddy Marin, 50, and Patrick Daoud, 54, were charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. They face trial on April 8.
The Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein involved persuading wealthy investors to buy stakes in what he said were payouts in confidential sexual harassment and workplace discrimination cases. The cases were fabricated. Rothstein used forged court documents and phony bank records to sell the scheme to investors, including four hedge funds and several wealthy South Florida businessmen.
The scheme fell apart over Halloween weekend 2009 when he was unable to bring in new investors to pay off old ones. He fled to Morocco, returning a few days later, and has cooperated with federal authorities and the trustee appointed in the bankruptcy of his former Fort Lauderdale law firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeldt & Adler.
The case is U.S. v. Rothstein, 12-cr-60204, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).