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Weeping disbarred lawyer is sentenced to prison for aiding client’s plot to hide jewels

Posted Oct 8, 2013 9:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A disbarred Florida lawyer wept in court on Monday as he was sentenced to three years in prison for helping a client hide more than $1 million in jewelry purchased with money from her husband, convicted Ponzi schemer lawyer Scott Rothstein.

The disbarred lawyer, Scott Saidel, pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruct justice and tamper with a witness, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. According to the story, Saidel appeared in Fort Lauderdale federal court on Monday looking “ashen and resigned in his dark suit and silky pink tie, his head tilted downward.” The Daily Business Review says Saidel wept as he apologized for helping Kim Rothstein hide money she made selling the jewelry and other items.

The federal prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence LaVecchio, told the judge the crime wasn’t just an error of judgment because money from the jewelry was deposited in Saidel’s trust account for a long period of time. He also said there was a plan to approach Scott Rothstein to get him to lie about the jewels. "Nobody gets dragged into federal criminal court in cases like these because they committed errors in judgment," LaVecchio said.

Saidel’s lawyer, Tama Beth Kudman, said Saidel was trying to help a friend who was losing everything in the world through no fault of her own, the Sun Sentinel says. “He has lost his career. … His wife and child have moved out of their home. … He has no money left," Kudman said. "He's lost everything in the world."

Saidel told the Daily Business Review he was grateful that the judge didn’t order him into immediate custody. Now he will be able to go home where his dog is dying of cancer. He must surrender on Nov. 21.

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