'Ponzi' lawyer gets 100 years in huge scam

Jan. 28, 2010 at 1:28 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Former Florida attorney Scott Rothstein, facing up to 100 years in prison for a huge investment scam, may seek time off by helping nab cohorts, officials say.

Rothstein, 47, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court to five counts of racketeering, fraud and money laundering in a so-called $1.2 billion "Ponzi" scheme. He is set to be sentenced May 6 for what officials say the largest such scam in South Florida history.

The disbarred lawyer hopes to trim down his sentence significantly, The Miami Herald said Thursday, if he plays a key role in the ongoing probe of others in his bankrupt Fort Lauderdale law firm who prosecutors say may have benefited from the scheme.

Rothstein, who returned voluntarily from Morocco after the scandal broke and detailed his part in the alleged scheme, named others involved, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

He also identified hundreds of homes, cars, jewelry, watches, businesses, bank accounts and other personal assets bought with the tainted proceeds. The value of items seized so far run as high as $100 million.

A Ponzi scheme pays investors premiums from their own investments, or those of subsequent investors, but earns no profit.

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