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Trials & Litigation

Gov’t Seeks 40 Years for Ex-Lawyer Rothstein in $1.2B Case, But Will Sentence Be the Final Answer?

Posted Jun 8, 2010 10:34 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to sentence ex-attorney Scott Rothstein tomorrow to a 40-year prison term for operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme out of his former South Florida law firm.

He is seeking a 30-year term. The maximum sentence is 100 years, but the government has asked for less time because of the now-disbarred Florida lawyer's cooperation with prosecutors, CBS4 reports.

However, the sentence imposed on Rothstein this week may not be the final answer, points out the Mayo on the Side blog of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

A court filing by Rothstein's attorney, Marc Nurik, suggests that there could be a sentence reduction in the future, based on his client's substantial cooperation with the government, the blog notes.

Lawyers uninvolved in the case predict that Rothstein could get anywhere between 40 and 100 years, but say he is also likely to see prosecutors recommend within a year that his sentence be reduced, recounts the Sun-Sentinel.

Rothstein reportedly wore a wire for the feds and helped them make a case against a reputed mafia figure, as detailed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts. He is expected to go into the federal witness protection program to avoid potential retaliation.

In a Miami Herald article, columnist Fred Grimm compares Rothstein to the central figure of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby, but says Rothstein's conspicuous consumption makes Jay Gatsby's lavish lifestyle on Long Island, N.Y., almost a century ago, seem modest by comparison.

Fitzgerald and the fictional Gatsby never dreamed of a gold toilet seat. And, while a waterfront mansion and famous parties were common to the lifestyle of both Gatsby and Rothstein, the Jazz Age antihero was apparently satisfied with a Rolls Royce or two, while Rothstein had a far larger fleet of high-end vintage sports cars and other collectible vehicles.

Tomorrow's sentencing hearing may present another likeness between the lifestyle of the two, Grimm predicts: "None of the fashionable crowd who frequented Jay Gatsby's parties and gulped his champagne bothered to attend his funeral. I doubt many of Rothstein's friends will show up in court Wednesday to bid him goodbye."

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Ponzi-Schemer Lawyer Explains Motive: ‘All in the Name of Ego and Greed’"

ABAJournal.com: "CBS: Lawyer Stung Mafia Suspects to Get Witness Time in $1.2B Scheme"

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