Scott Rothstein Takes Witness Stand In Trial Of Former Employee

, Daily Business Review


Scott Rothstein
Scott Rothstein

Asked by Rodriguez if he liked being in court, Rothstein said: "I am not happy about being here. I am upset that it has gotten to this point where I have to testify against someone or for someone I care about."

He agreed with Rodriguez that one of his mottoes was "steal from the rich and give to the richer."

On another subject, Rothstein said he routinely paid Broward sheriff's deputies to do his bidding.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence LaVecchio interrupted that line of questioning without explanation and asked for a sidebar. Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in West Palm Beach cut off Rodriguez, whose questioning switched to another direction.

Rothstein previously acknowledged hiring Broward deputies and Fort Lauderdale police for personal duties. Questions about their service to Rothstein have not produced any criminal charges. Time runs out for federal prosecutors to charge people in Rothstein's fraud in November.

'Consider The Source'

Rothstein is testifying out of order as a defense witness for the convenience of federal agents because he is detained at a secret location after testifying for prosecutors in a mob-related sting shortly after he surrendered. Rothstein testified he laundered money through his law firm for an associate of organized crime.

He also said he directed his wife, Kim Rothstein, to hide assets after he fled to Morocco following the collapse of the scheme. Rothstein said that because he wasn't honest with prosecutors about his role in hiding assets, which included diamond rings, his cooperation agreement to reduce his sentence is in jeopardy.

He also implicated numerous people while on the stand. He said former RRA attorney David Boden practiced law even though he wasn't licensed in Florida.

He also said he changed his mind about whether George Levin, CEO of Banyon Investments, knew of the Ponzi scheme. Debra Villegas, the law firm's COO, testified Tuesday that Levin knew the law firm's finances were cooked.

Prosecutors chose to call Villegas as witness, as opposed to Rothstein, to set the foundation for the Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors fought to keep Rothstein from the stand at public expense, but Hurley granted a defense motion to bring him to court.

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