Convicted South Florida Ponzi Schemer, Scott Rothstein, May Testify from Prison in Employee’s Trial… at a Cost of $20,000

January 7, 2014 by David S. Seltzer

Scott Rothstein -- a South Florida attorney convicted of spearheading a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that bilked insurance companies and investors throughout the state -- is poised to play a pivotal role in the upcoming February trial of a former employee, Christina Kitterman.

After being convicted of a Florida crime in 2009, Rothstein has been in the witness protection program while serving a 50-year federal prison sentence.

Kitterman stands accused of collaborating with Rothstein on the massive Ponzi scheme by impersonating an official from the Florida Bar, in order to con investors into believing that the state had prevented Rothstein from accessing their trust accounts. Per the prosecution, the case against Kitterman depends, in large part, on Rothstein’s emails and personal testimony.

Technical Challenges of Getting the Key Witness to Testify

Rothstein has told contradictory stories about what his associates did and did not know regarding his criminal enterprise. In his initial deposition, he said that no other lawyers at his firm knew what had been going on. He was acting alone. In a subsequent deposition, however, he claimed that Kitterman knew and aided the scheme by lying to investors.

According to Valentin Rodriguez, Kitterman’s lawyer, the allegations are false: “she worked for Mr. Rothstein and did what he asked her to do. She believed that whatever she was asked to do was truthful."

Since transporting Rothstein to the trial could be too cumbersome and complicated, the court is weighing whether to use a video conferencing link -- at a hefty price tag of $20,000 -- to allow Rothstein to testify.

The Case in Context: What Does It Mean for Your Florida Criminal Defense?

Consider the Rothstein-Kitterman case's broader implications. Very large scale crimes -- like Ponzi schemes, in which hundreds of millions or billions of dollars of assets change hands -- often spawn a diverse lot of smaller legal actions. For instance, after the scheme fizzled, the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler Law Firm’s bankruptcy trustee debated vigorously with prosecutors over who should get access to assets. Should the assets go to investors who were cheated out of large sums of money? Or should they go to the law firm’s creditors?

Over the summer, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals weighed in and ruled that the government should not have seized multiple law firm bank accounts, because the accounts contained funds that had been legally obtained, and since those funds could not easily be disentangled from the proceeds collected from the criminal activities. Citing a previous, similar ruling, the court ruled that the funds could not be forfeited.

If you stand accused of a simple or complex Florida crime, connect today with the team here at Seltzer Law, P.A., for a sympathetic, accurate and effective Florida criminal defense. Call us now at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333), or connect with the team online today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.