A noticeably in-shape Scott Rothstein appeared before a federal judge this morning where he was formally charged with five counts related to a massive, $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
In a tight t-shirt and designer jeans, Rothstein appeared before Judge Robin Rosenbaum in a U.S. District Courtroom in Fort Lauderdale just after 11 a.m.
Rothstein showed little emotion throughout the hearing while still wearing the handcuffs placed on him when he was scooped up by the FBI early this morning. Wife Kimberly was noticeably absent from the hearing.
Prosecutors charged the 47-year-old former lawyer with wire fraud, mail fraud, racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The complicated case against Rothstein was outlined by prosecutors, who charged that he used his lawfirm -- Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler -- to bilk investors out of over $1 billion in a scheme dating back to 2005.
Prosecutors allege that Rothstein used the funds from the scheme to fund his lifestyle of excess.
Agents are seeking through legal filings to seize Rothstein's 20 luxury cars, a handful of homes in Florida, New York and Rhode Island, a half-dozen boats, millions in cash and bank accounts and other expensive nik-naks, including a 300+ jewelry collection and Rothstein's guitar and sports memorabilia collections.
Rothstein, who ran a host of businesses and donated millions to local charities, schmoozed with several high-powered politicians including Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
Calling it a "classic Ponzi scheme," prosecutors alleged that Rothstein used his law firm office -- a veritable fortress -- to project legitimacy as he scammed investors out of hundreds of millions.
Sensing his scheme was collapsing, Rothstein, according to prosecutors, fled to Morocco in October, but not before wiring $16 million to the country and taking another $400,000-$500,000 with him.
Though Judge Rosenbaum gave Rothstein credit for returning to the country to face the music, he was ordered held in pretrial detention, considered to be a flight risk.
The only words Rothstein spoke were after Judge Rosenbaum asked him if he understood the charges against him.
"Yes, your honor," he said.
Rothstein, who pled not guilty, is facing a possible 100-year sentence.
His lawyer, Marc Nurik, said Rothstein hasn't struck a deal with the government and he's doing OK considering the circumstances.
"How would you be doing? He's strong...Scott feels very remorseful about what's happened in this situation but like I said, he's taking it like a man," Nurik said.
Nurik said that Rothstein intends to repay all "legitimate investors" back but didn't clarify who was legitimate and who wasn't.
He added that Rothstein genuinely feels remorseful to his law partners and family, and that he's trying "to do the right thing."
Jeff Sonn, a lawyer representing several investors who were allegedly scammed by Rothstein, wasn't moved by Rothstein's remorse.
"Nurik's probably giving him good advice that now is the time to be remorseful -- what else does he have?" Sonn said. "If he's not going to be contrite now, he's got no shot of reducing his sentence."