- With a white goatee and closely cut hair that was grayer than the last time he was seen publicly some three-and-a-half years ago, Rothstein, 51, took the witness stand handcuffed and shackled, wearing a bright blue, collared T-shirt and jeans.
Rothstein — who was subpoenaed by defense attorney Valentin Rodriguez Jr. to testify in the wire fraud trial of Christina Kitterman, a former attorney who worked at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm — appeared in court much earlier than expected because of security concerns.
- Additionally, Rothstein testified he had a sexual relationship with Kitterman.
“We were two friends who fooled around from time to time, Rothstein testified, alleging Kitterman “pulled me into a bathroom stall to make out with me” at Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale.
“We were friends, there's no polite way to say this — we were friends with benefits,” he said. “I loved her and cared about her and I believe she loved and cared about me.”
“I am NOT happy about being here,” Rothstein said, saying he wished he didn't have to testify about someone he cares about.
- “What ended up happening ... My ego and, at that particular time, my desire for power and money and some of my partners' desire for power and money” led to Rothstein starting his fraud to try to keep his failing law firm afloat, he testified.
“We grew before we should have grown,” Rothstein told the jury. “I refused to fail and I let this Ponzi scheme explode.”
“At that time, I had an ego that was out of control,” he continued.
- “My wife was indicted for things that she did and also things that I told her to do.”
He said he told her, during a phone conversation after he briefly fled to Morocco in late 2009, to hide some expensive watches from the government.
“At a later point in time, before the government took everything, I had had conversations with her [Kim] about making certain that we did not end up on the street ... I didn't tell her what to take, other than the watches.”
- Was Rothstein upset about the length of the sentence imposed by Cohn, Kitterman's lawyer Valentin Rodriguez Jr. asked.
“That would be an understatement, yes sir,” Rothstein replied.
Prosecutors filed a court document on June 8, 2011, saying Rothstein should qualify for a sentence reduction for his cooperation. The final decision would lie with Cohn.
No further action has been taken on the request, Rothstein said, because his cooperation is not complete yet.
- A second hitch, he testified, is: “I understand there's been an issue pertaining to my failure to tell” the truth to federal authorities about the fact he knew and was involved in Kim Rothstein's efforts to criminally hide some of their assets.
He still hopes he will get a sentence reduction because he hopes prosecutors and the judge will accept he only lied about hiding jewelry with his wife Kim and that it was a mistake he made under duress, he said.
He said he hopes prosecutors and the judge will eventually grant him a sentence reduction and agree “that I don't deserve to die in prison for what I've done.”