MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida attorney with close ties to convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein was indicted Monday in connection with Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
Steven Lippman, 49, of Plantation, was charged with conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, to defraud the U.S., and to defraud a financial institution.
Prosecutors said Lippman, a shareholder in Rothstein's now defunct law firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler (RRA), was illegally reimbursed by RRA for certain political contributions he made including the presidential campaign of John McCain.
The indictment claims Rothstein enlisted Lippman and others to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the McCain campaign and RRA would unlawfully reimburse them.
In one instance, prosecutors said, Lippman made a $67,800 contribution to McCain-Palin Victory 2008. Lippman, in turn, received a check from RRA in the amount of $77,500, which constituted reimbursement of the funds he used to make the contribution.
The check was fraudulently backdated to reflect that it was issued six days prior to the date of the actual contribution and the memo section of the check stated "bonus."
The goal of these contributions was to increase the firm's political influence and it appeared to have worked. As a result, Rothstein was named a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention and was appointed as a member of the Judicial Nominating Committee for the State of Florida.
Lippman also allegedly took part in a bank fraud scheme with Rothstein that made it appear RRA was an affluent and successful law firm and to gain additional time to meet the financial obligations of RRA. Prosecutors claim he did this in a scheme called "check kiting," which is floating checks between accounts to inflate posted balances.
Lippman was also charged with tax fraud for failing to report certain expense reimbursements and other income from RRA.
If convicted, Lippman faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison.
Lippman is the 9th person including Rothstein to plead guilty in the $1.2 billion scam, which involved investments in phony legal settlements. Prosecutors say more people will be charged and dozens of lawsuits have been filed by wronged investors.
Rothstein is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He is serving the sentence in an undisclosed location after helping authorities prosecute a reputed Mafia figure. Authorities have been selling off Rothstein's homes, boats, flashy cars and other assets to compensate wronged investors.
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