Kim Rothstein, Wife of Fort Lauderdale Ponzi Schemer, Gets 18 Months in Prison

Wife of convicted Ponzi schemer had been facing up to five years in prison for trying to hide $1 million in jewelry

The wife of convicted Fort Lauderdale Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein was sentenced to 18 months in prison Tuesday for hiding $1 million in jewelry from authorities.

Kim Rothstein, 39, will also serve two years of probation at the end of her prison term, a federal judge ruled. Rothstein had been facing up to five years behind bars.

"I'm willing to serve my time with dignity," Rothstein told Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum. "I'm very ashamed."

Rothstein and friend Stacie Weisman pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to hide the jewelry. Rothstein's former lawyer, Scott Saidel, also pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to three years in prison last month.

As Rothstein arrived at the courthouse, she hugged her father – who came to support her even though her attorneys told the judge, in a bid for sympathy, that she was a victim of paternal abuse.

William Wendell told NBC 6 he never abused his daughter.

"I mean I'd give my life for my daughter but my honor's not a negotiating chip,” he said.

Last week, prosecutors asked for leniency for Rothstein and Weisman for their cooperation in testifying in the case.

"She has accepted her responsibility, she has been sentenced today, and she is very much looking forward to moving on to the next stage of her life,” Rothstein's attorney David Tucker said.

Weisman was also scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday.

Scott Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence for operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that involved investments in fake legal settlements. The hidden jewelry was among the assets investigators sought to seize and auction to partially repay wronged investors.

On Nov. 9, 2009, agents with the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations went to the Rothstein residence, where Kim Rothstein assisted them in retrieving what was believed to be all the available cash, jewelry and luxury watches purchased by Scott Rothstein with proceeds from the Ponzi scheme, authorities said.

However, according to court documents, Kim Rothstein, Weisman and Saidel "knowingly" concealed jewelry "for the purpose of preventing the government from exercising its authority to take such property into its lawful custody and control," the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

It was also learned last week that Kim Rothstein filed for divorce from her husband earlier this month. The couple were married in 2008.

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