Accused Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, one of South Florida’s most flamboyant lawyers, shackled at the wrists and ankles while wearing a khaki prison jumpsuit, said in Fort Lauderdale federal court Wednesday that he will plead guilty later this month to running the biggest investment fraud case in South Florida history.
Rothstein, 47, is accused of running a $1.2 billion investment racket which was funded by selling fake legal settlements, including $775 million to hedge funds.
A once high-flying attorney who courted politicians and celebrities is likely to be sentenced from 30 years to life under federal sentencing guidelines because of his leadership role in the investment scheme.
U.S. District Judge Judge James Cohn set Rothstein’s sentencing for Jan. 27. to be followed by his sentencing a few months later.
Marc Nurik, Rothstein’s attorney, told Miami Herald that the deal is being finalized, but would not provide additional details.
The Rothstein scandal broke in late October after hedge fund operator George Levin told the U.S. attorney’s office that Rothstein had failed to make good on investors’ latest distribution payments from the purported settlements in employment and other civil cases. By then, Scott Rothstein had already flown to Morocco to deposit about $16 million, leaving his investors doubting whether he would ever return to South Florida.