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Convicted Ponzi schemer Rothstein will help authorities make other cases

Scott Rothstein, the newly convicted Ponzi schemer who faces up to 100 years in prison, will strive to help authorities make cases against others who profited from his massive investment scam — in hopes of shaving time off his sentence.

Rothstein will be sentenced on May 6, following his guilty plea Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court to five counts of racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

U.S. District Judge James Cohn could be harsh on Rothstein, 47, who authorities say ran the largest investment scam in South Florida history.

But the disbarred lawyer could later seek to have his term significantly reduced, if he plays a key role in the ongoing probe of others in his bankrupt Fort Lauderdale law firm who prosecutors say may have benefited from the $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

"It's obvious he would hope he is not spending the rest of his natural life in prison," his attorney, Marc Nurik, said after the plea hearing.

Here's why Rothstein might get a sentence reduction down the road: In early November, he voluntarily returned from Morocco just after the scandal broke, and detailed his crime for federal authorities. He also identified homes, cars, jewelry, watches, businesses, bank accounts and other assets purchased with the tainted proceeds. The value of items seized so far: at least $60 million.

All of that assistance could help shave years off Rothstein's term, legal observers say. His notorious misdeeds have been compared to those of the world's biggest Ponzi schemer, Bernard Madoff, convicted last year of running a $65 billion scam and sentenced to 150 years.

Convicted Ponzi schemer Rothstein will help authorities make other cases 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:58pm]
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