Criminal Justice

3 new pleas linked to ex-law firm chief serving 50 years in $1.2B swindle; 20th conviction now looms


Three more guilty pleas are scheduled in cases linked to disbarred onetime Florida law firm leader Scott Rothstein, bringing the total number of expected federal convictions, including Rothstein’s, to 20.

The latest defendants who have agreed to take pleas are a former Broward County sheriff’s lieutenant and detective and the former chief financial officer at Rothstein’s now-defunct Fort Lauderdale law firm, the Sun Sentinel reports.

The fired lieutenant, David Benjamin, is expected to plead guilty next week to one charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights and commit extortion as a law enforcement officer, which carries a maximum five-year prison term. He is accused of accepting over $180,000 in cash and perks from Rothstein in exchange for sending the defendant detective, Jeff Poole, to arrest and intimidate individuals for Rothstein’s benefit, the newspaper says.

Poole, who was also fired after being criminally charged, is scheduled to plead guilty this week to conspiring to violate civil rights and could get as much as 10 years. He is accused of illegally arresting the ex-wife of an attorney friend of Rothstein’s, Douglas Bates, who is one of the 17 people previously convicted in cases linked to the former Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler managing partner.

Bates, despite cooperating with prosecutors and helping the feds launch cases against Benjamin and Poole, was sentenced last week to a maximum five years for wire fraud conspiracy. Already shaking his head over the sentence, the 55-year-old was apparently stunned when the judge also ordered him to be taken into custody immediately after sentencing, an earlier Sun Sentinel article reports.

Although Bates had expected to be given several weeks to put his affairs in order, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks said swift punishment was appropriate given Bates’ “evil” conduct in arranging for his ex-wife to be arrested in 2009 on trumped-up charges. Bates could have faced over 17 years in prison, the judge said, if he had been charged for his full role in bolstering Rothstein’s false claims to investors. Bates admittedly wrote fraudulent opinion letters in 2008 and 2009 that the then-RRA managing partner used to help convince investors to purchase future income from nonexistent settlements, the newspaper reports.

Meanwhile, RRA’s ex-chief financial officer, Irene Stay Shannon, is also set to plead guilty before the end of the month to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering and bank fraud, the Sun Sentinel reports. She faces a maximum of five years.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Former law firm CFO charged in $1.2B swindle is 18th to face a criminal case, feds say”

ABAJournal.com: “Feds charge 2 sheriff’s officers in civil rights case linked to ex-lawyer jailed in $1.2B swindle”

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