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Wife Of Jailed Ponzi Schemer Pleads Not Guilty

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Dressed simply in white and not wearing any jewelry, 38 year old Kimberly Rothstein, wife of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, pleaded not guilty in Federal Court to charges she tried to hide a million dollars worth of jewelry and other items.

Rothstein had no comment after posting a 500 thousand dollar surety bond and surrendering her passport.  But her attorney David Tucker said, "Her attitude is good.  This is a difficult process.  She's ready to accept full responsibility for her own actions.  She's human and feels bad for all of the victims."

Tucker would not comment on the allegations that Kim Rothstein failed to turn over all the jewelry that had been bought by Scott Rothstein with proceeds derived from his Ponzi scheme.

Federal prosecutors say that after federal agents seized much of the Rothstein property, Kim Rothstein, her friend Stacie Weisman and attorney Scott Saidel tried to conceal certain items for the purpose of preventing the government from taking the property.  Prosecutors say Kim Rothstein tried to sell a portion of the missing jewelry to various persons including Eddy Marin and Patrick Daoud.

Rothstein's co-defendant Scott Saidel also appeared in Federal Court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges.  Saidel also posted a 500 thousand dollar surety bond and was released awaiting trial.

Attorneys for Kim Rothstein said they planned to work out a deal with prosecutors so they would not have to go to trial.

"The significance is she tried to hide a 12 carat diamond ring and other jewelry," said attorney Jeff Sonn who represents some of the victims of Rothstein's scam.

In 2010 when her husband was convicted, Kim Rothstein swore she knew nothing about his criminal ventures and did not gain a penny from it.

"For anyone who believes I've been personally enriched by Scott activities, I can assure you quite the contrary, but that's as it should be. While this debacle has left me isolated and wrongly maligned, I am not here to wallow in public self pity," she said at the time.

Scott Rothstein, once a high-flying attorney in Fort Lauderdale, is serving a 50-year prison sentence for fraud involving investments in fake legal settlements. Shortly after his scheme unraveled, investigators went to the Rothstein's' residence to seize jewelry, watches and other items purchased with money from the scheme.

Attorney Jeffrey Sonn says all that jewelry Kim Rothstein is accused of trying to hide belongs to the people her husband scammed.

"This was a big crime and this criminal enterprise generated lots of money jewelry cars and boats," said Sonn. "When Kim Rothstein agreed to turn it over, allegedly she didn't."

"What this is doing is punishing people who lied under oath to hide assets and the victims are very concerned all the assets be collected," said Sonn.

According to Sonn the process of victim's being reimbursed is only mid-way complete.  Sonn says the victims may only get back a portion of what they lost.

Prosecutors also maintain that Kim Rothstein and her co-conspirators took steps to persuade Scott Rothstein to testify falsely about the jewelry's whereabouts.

"When a witness lies under oath or conspires to obstruct justice, the integrity of our system of justice is undermined," said Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.

One key piece was a 12-carat diamond ring that had become central to bankruptcy proceedings in the collapse of the Rothstein, Rosenfeldt, Adler law firm. A local jewelry store that had sold the ring to Scott Rothstein was trying to find it, leading to a web of lies and deception that even included a false claim that the ring had been sold to a dead man, prosecutors said.

For example, in a February 2010 bankruptcy deposition, Kim Rothstein said under oath that "all of the missing jewelry had been turned over to the government."

Now, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of those items:

—Five rings, including the 12-carat ring, an engagement ring and a wedding band containing 18 emerald cut diamonds.
—10 watches, among them a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph with leopard print design, a women's gold and diamond Piaget and a platinum and diamond Pierre Kunz.
—5 sets of earrings, four necklaces, two bracelets and a variety of gold coins, including 26 South African Krugerrands.
—A pair of pearl, diamond and sapphire cufflinks; more than $33,000 in cash; several silver pens; and 50 1-ounce gold bars.

Kim Rothstein faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted of the charges.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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