Happy Hour for Rothstein as Empire Crumbles Further - NBC 6 South Florida

Happy Hour for Rothstein as Empire Crumbles Further

IRS alleges Ponzi scheme as Rothsteins assets seized & hauled away



    Happy Hour for Rothstein as Empire Crumbles Further

    It was a quite a spectacle in the Scott Rothstein saga yesterday, as the embattled Ft. Lauderdale lawyer saw most of his pricey toys vanish as he sipped martinis with his lawyer.

    Rothstein's day didn't start out well as federal agents spent hours rooting through his $6.5 million mansion, seizing his sports car collection and yacht and placing liens on several of his properties.

    A red Ferrari was hauled away from his office, then flatbed trucks snatched up his Rolls-Royce Phantom and Bentley convertible. His 80-foot yacht Kimberly, named for his wife, also set sail, bound for a collection agency.

    The sight of agents in blue jackets with "FBI" in big yellow letters on their jackets outside the Rothstein abode drew several curious onlookers and neighbors out. One man even showed up looking to buy the luxury vehicles.

    A bigger blow came later in the day though, when the IRS filed court documents alleging that Rothstein had been running his Ponzi scheme 2005, bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The filing alleges Rothstein and others forged documents and falsified bank records, as well as concocted legal settlements that didn't exist.

    "The investigation has established that no such settlement agreements had ever existed and the entire investment scheme was a fraud," the filing read, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "These transactions constituted a 'Ponzi' scheme in which new investor money was utilized to pay previous investors in futherance of the scheme."

    And where was Rothstein as all this was happening? Sitting at the posh Capital Grille, drinking martinis with his lawyer, Marc Nurik, according to Bob Norman at the Daily Pulp.

    A video posted on the Pulp's Web site shows Rothstein kicking back, ejoying drinks as he chats with some of the restaurant's wait staff at lunchtime.

    "It's tough. It's tough," Rothstein tells a maitre'd and hostess. "I'm going to do the right thing, so, you know. Make sure when you see everybody, just tell them that I'm alive, I'm well, and I'm doing the right thing, you know."

    Rothstein, 47, is accused of perpetrating his alleged scheme from his soundproof and security-heavy "Bat Cave" office at his Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm. The firm is now struggling to stay afloat after word of Rothstein's alleged scheme came just two weeks ago.

    Rothstein was in Morocco when news of the investigation broke, and sent an ominous text message to the firm's partners hinting at suicide.

    "Sorry for letting you all down," he allegedly wrote. "I am a fool. I thought I could fix it but got trapped by my ego and refusal to fail and now all I have accomplished is hurting the people I love. Please take care of yourselves and please protect Kimmie (Rothstein's wife). She knew nothing. Neither did she nor any of you deserve what I did. I hope God allows me to see you on the other side. Love, Scott."

    Rothstein returned last Tuesday and had been reported to be speaking with authorities, though his attorney Nurik has disputed those accounts.

    Rothstein hasn't exactly been laying low since he got back from Morocco. Though he's been essentially in hiding for the past week, he spoke over the phone with a Miami Herald reporter Sunday, claiming he and Nurik were relaxing and smoking cigars.

    Though Rothstein hasn't been charged with a crime, but an arrest could come soon, according to the Herald.

    As for his victims, at least one lawsuit was filed yesterday by a group of investors who hope to recover some of the millions they poured into the alleged scheme.

    But those investors received little sympathy from folks who just wanted to witness the circus outside Rothstein's home.   
    "You know, people feel bad about people losing money but when you buy a lawsuit, basically what it was is a settlement, him basically stealing from other companies that work hard for a living, him taking the money, extorting money out of them, then other people stepping up to buy the lawsuits," said Todd Littlejohn, outside the accused Ponzi schemer's home. "So I'm actually glad they lost their money, very glad they lost their money."