First Rothstein-Related Criminal Trial Begins

, Daily Business Review

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Christina Kitterman
Christina Kitterman

The first criminal trial tied to disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme started Monday more than four years after the fraud collapsed.

Boca Raton attorney Christina Kitterman, who worked at Rothstein's labor and employment law firm, faces three charges of wire fraud conspiracy. She allegedly posed as a Florida Bar investigator to deceive investors when they wanted their money back by telling them Rothstein was under investigation.

A jury of 11 women and one man was seated to hear the trial with Rothstein scheduled to appear as a defense witness. Opening statements started in the afternoon.

Eight low-level defendants have pleaded guilty to crimes associated with Rothstein's settlement financing fraud, but Kitterman is the first to take her case to trial.

Later this month, Deerfield Beach attorney Douglas Bates is scheduled to stand trial for allegedly playing multiple roles to fool investors into sinking more money into the scam.

Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach said he was concerned that news coverage of Rothstein would make seating a panel difficult, but only a handle of potential jurors said they had heard of the former lawyer who turned into political kingmaker and philanthropist using other people's money at Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence LaVecchio told Hurley he would produce statements Kitterman made to prosecutors before she was indicted last August.

The lead prosecutor told jurors some New York hedge funds decided they weren't giving Rothstein any more money because he stopped paying supposed returns on their investments.

"She entered into a plan to deceive people. She deceived them by pretending to be somebody else to get them to part with money. It's not a complicated case," LaVecchio said. "Evidence will show she jumped in with both feet. There was no hesitation. Scott Rothstein told her to tell a blatant lie, and she agreed."

Kitterman's attorney, Valentin Rodriguez of West Palm Beach, told jurors Kitterman received no money from Rothstein for committing her alleged crime.

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