White-Collar Crime

Feds Say Ex-Partner Committed Crimes to 'Dramatically Increase' Rothstein Law Firm's Political Power

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A former partner has pleaded guilty to crimes that federal prosecutors say were intended to “dramatically increase the political influence and power” of a South Florida law firm headed by now-convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.

Steven N. Lippman, 49, who was a non-equity partner of Scott Rothstein’s law firm in Ft. Lauderdale, had nothing to do with Rothstein’s $1.2 billion swindle, his lawyer has said. However, Lippman admitted Friday in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale that he played a role in a conspiracy to help Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler illegally become the top contributor to the losing 2008 presidential campaign of Republican John McCain. He also admitted to conspiracy to commit bank fraud by plotting to write checks that were not adequately backed, according to Bloomberg and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (sub. req.).

Lippman helped the firm in the “bundling” of campaign contributions by serving as a straw donor who was illegally compensated for his donations in cash, services and gifts such as a $134,000 Maserati, he admitted. In addition to conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and defraud the federal government, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, the news agency reports.

He could get up to five years when he is sentenced in September.

“I think he drank the Rothstein Kool-Aid,” his lawyer, Bruce Zimet, told the South Florida Business Journal after Friday’s hearing. “But he made several mistakes and is apologizing for those mistakes.”

Lippman is cooperating in the continuing federal investigation of lawyers at the now-defunct Rothstein firm.

Rothstein, who is now disbarred, is serving a 50-year sentence.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Sun-Sentinel: Steven Lippman, Ex-Partner in Rothstein Firm, Will Take Plea in Conspiracy Case”

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