Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's 50 years...

...for Scott Rothstein.

More to follow.

Update #1 -- From the Sun-Sentinel article:

In the courtroom, Rothstein appeared visibly and dramatically changed by his six months in federal custody, much thinner with closely shorn gray hair and a goatee -- almost unrecognizable from the outsize personality he once was.He was wearing dark pants and an off-white dress shirt, and he was shackled at the waist and ankles. A humble Rothstein addressed the judge and the packed gallery, apologizing for all the harm he caused."I am truly and deeply sorry for what I have done. I don't expect your forgiveness. I don't," Rothstein said. "I am ashamed and embarrassed."

Update #2 -- More from Bob Norman, who was there. The post is excellent and worth a read. Here's a lengthy excerpt:

Rothstein looked like he'd lost a good 30 pounds. His hair was grayer still and he wore a goattee. He actually looked tanned and healthy in a long-sleeve white button-up shirt, dark pants, white socks, black sneakers and the chains shackling him.
His wife, Kim, sat in the second row behind him, and wept when Rothstein entered the courtroom. She sat next with her friend, Stacy Weissman at her left, and Scott's father Harvey at her right. Next to Harvey was Scott's sister, Ronni, and next to her was mother Gay. Also in the row was Kim's attorney, Scott Saidel, who sat next to Weissman.
Cohn opened the proceedings by asking if any of Rothstein's victims were present in the courtroom who wanted to speak. In the back row, a black woman stood up and said she'd like to speak. It was
Shirley Blades, the mother (I think) of Charles Blades, from the Blades football family.
In what was a bit of a dramatic moment, she was led up to the podium and Cohn let her speak even though she was there to show Rothstein moral support. She simply turned to Rothstein, with tears streaming down her face, and said, "My brother, may God bless you. May God bless you."
That prompted Gay, Ronni, and Kim all to start crying. Blades was followed by Steven Bitton, a Plantation man who was a client of Rothstein's. He said that he was offered a settlement in a lawsuit with the City of Plantation that Rothstein simply never told him about (outside the courtroom he said the offer was for $650,000 and that the city was now claiming was no longer on the table and that the statute of limitations had passed). "I went to see him every month for four years," said Bitton. "... You trust your attorney. You put your faith in him. ... It's not just the investors [who were hurt]."
Then Nurik took the stage and spoke for over an hour on behalf of Rothstein. He started by asking Cohn to focus on "the rule of law, not the rule of mob, not the influence of the media, not the frenzy."
He asked Cohn to sentence Rothstein for "who he is, not for how he's been demonized." He said Rothstein, who turns 48 tomorrow, had lived 43 years as a "caring, loving person" before he turned to a like of crime.
Nurik also said that nobody would come to speak on his behalf -- expect Blades, whom he said was a surprise even to him -- for "fear of vilification ... and demonization" by the media and community.
Cohn asked Nurik why he thought Rothstein "engendered so much public attention."
"Mr. Rothstein lived larger than life," Nurik answered. "Mr. Rothstein was very brash, very vocal ... his face was plastered on every society page ... he was everywhere, doing everything."
Nurik continued that there was a lot "schadenfreude" in this case -- joy in the demise of another -- and that law firms and lawyers in town were "quite frankly jealous ... a lot of lawyers wondered how [RRA] could grows so fast."
"Isn't his lifestyle part of the manner in which the crimes were committed?" asked Cohn.
Nurik said it was "to some degree," specifically in terms of the political contributions and "certain things in town" (I assume he was talking about charity events) that he did to gain "access to certain people."


Then, finally, Cohn spoke. And man did he speak. He waxed poetic about Rothstein's case, saying it was "all about image, wealth, power, and influence" and that Rothstein rivaled "Madison Avenue" in the way he marketed himself.
"[Rothstein's] political connections stretch from the sheriff's office on one end of Broward Boulevard all the way to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department on the other end of Broward Boulevard to the governor's mansion in Tallahassee ... and down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House," Cohn said.
Cohn mentioned the society pages, the political contributions "funneled through Rothstein's attorneys and their wives," his attending sporting events "with BSO brass," all designed to create an "appearance of legitimacy but we now know was all a facade, a fraud.
"This was a This Ponzi scheme was not the result of a poor buisness decision. Quite the contrary, it was fraud at its inception ... causing 400 investors to love $400 million ... many people have been swept up in the tsunami that followed." Cohn not suprisingly said that he believed Nurik's comparison to the Dreier case was "unpersuasive" saying that there could be "no conduct more reviled" thatn Rothstein's forging of court orders.
"The court must take a step back and ask what makes the Rothstein case different," Cohn said. "Why has this case created such a media frenzy? ... I think the primary reason is that Mr. Rothstein infiltrated so many spheres of our daily life ... politics, sports, charities, the society pages, the legal profession, billboards. Mr. Rothstein was seemingly omnipotent. He was everywhere. He was not only everywhere, but everywhere with excess."
Just before he handed down the 50-year sentence (followed by three years of supervised release), Cohn said he felt that "public perception" was important.
While his mother wept, Rothstein didn't give a visible reaction. When Cohn was finished, he was led out of the courtroom through a side door. He didn't look back.


Rumpole said...

An absolutely shameful sentence. Nurik- who I don't think has done a great job was right on in regards to the drier case in NYC and Drier got 20,

Cohn's recitation of the forged orders borders on the vengeful. First- since the court was a victim in the forgery, it's almost as if Cohn is striking back on behalf of his fellow Judges whose names Rothstein forged.
Second- have you read those orders? A 12th grader could write better than that. I have a hard time believing Rothstein could try a misdemeanor much less be the trial lawyer he claims. If I was opposing counsel and received an order like the one Rothstein wrote I would immediately call the Judge's chambers and ask his deputy if he recently suffered a stroke. The forged orders were ridiculous and not believable.

Going back to my previous comment, to believe 50 is a correct sentence, Cohn is saying that if Rothstein got sentenced in1960, getting out today would be a just punishment. That is utterly ridiculous.

A good judge just gave out a bad sentence.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole you are way off base. Is there "anyone" you think should be punished at the maximum end of any sentence? The guy had an offense level of 52. His fraud swept through SOFLA like Hurricane Andrew.

As to the forged Court orders, they are considered relevant conduct, and should be taken into consideration. As an attorney, you should be appalled at his conduct not minimizing his lack of vernacular and grammar.

Since the guidelines are advisory now, why should Drier be used as a model for this type of case? I'm not familiar with all the details of Drier's background, but I would be willing to bet he didn't measure up to Rothstein's pomp and corrupt ties.

The collateral damage has yet to be seen from this case, it will be substantial. Rothstein deserved every year of the 50 he got.

Now let's talk reality, he will be coming back on a Rule 35 in the future. Maybe a year or two after things die down. If his cooperation is as substantial as I expect it was and is, he will get a significant chunk off his sentence and will fall closer to the 30 Nurik asked for.

Anonymous said...

Dreier was arrested impersonating one of his clients in order to steal money from him.

I agree with Rumpole that 50 years is ridiculous, given the Dreier case. Rothstein didn't try to steal a client's identity, but Dreier did. Dreier didn't forge a court order or two, but Rothstein did. Those things are relevant conduct, but is the forging of a court order really worth 30 years over Dreier's sentence, which presumably took into account the impersonation? That's preposterous.

Critic said...

A life sentence is far in excess of what is required to carry out the four goals of sentencing. Would twenty years in jail not have been sufficient to deter other potential fraudsters (if they are subject to deterrence at all)? Twenty years or fifty years would both result in Rothstein's incapacitation for plenty of time; indeed, the mere conviction itself, much less a lengthy jail term, would seem to prohibit his recidivism. Fifty years is not a just punishment in light of similar sentences -- as bad as Rothstein was Dreier was every bit his equal. Just watch the 60 minutes interview with Dreier if you don't believe me. Finally, rehabilitation, something that would otherwise seem possible with Rothstein, is now precluded. He will never get out of jail. This seems to be a wasteful and unjustly long sentence, out of line with the goals of sentencing.

Anonymous said...

While 40 or 30 might have been more appropriate, 50 is not outrageous given federal sentencings and the harm caused by SR. He certainly caused substantially more harm than the street-level crack dealer or the Cuban captain bringing a boatload of political refugees to the USA, both of whom are doing similar time in federal custody. J. Cohn wanted to send a strong message to any would-be SR's out there --- and he did.