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'Ponzi' attorney invested in businesses

Dec. 13, 2009 at 2:15 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Much of the $1.2 billion collected by a Florida attorney as part of an alleged Ponzi scheme is tied up in businesses, prosecutors say.

Court documents filed by investigators in the racketeering case of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney Scott Rothstein accuse the lawyer of putting Ponzi funds into more than 100 corporations and businesses, The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

It said the filings allege that Rothstein also invested some of the Ponzi funds in businesses that reflected his flashy, high-profile lifestyle, such as trendy restaurants, vodka companies and beachside hotels.

The Herald reported the U.S. government is going after the businesses as part of an effort to make whole the investors Rothstein allegedly duped. It claims in filings the attorney's "financial ability to acquire the (companies) did not exist prior to the execution of the `Ponzi' scheme," and so the business owners are barred from selling or transferring the property without the court's permission.

Prosecutors, for instance, say Rothstein held equity stakes in Renato Watches of Sunrise, Fla., and the Sea Club Resort in Fort Lauderdale.

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