Scott Rothstein Gets 50 Years for $1.2 Billion Ponzi Scheme

Scott Rothstein (Personal Photo)
Scott Rothstein (Personal Photo)

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBS/WFOR/AP) Scott Rothstein learned Wednesday, just months after his Ponzi scheme imploded, that he will spend the next 50 years of his life in prison.

"I am truly and deeply sorry for what I have done. I don't expect your forgiveness. I don't," Rothstein said in court according to the Sun-Sentinel. "I am ashamed and embarrassed."

Rothstein was sentenced Wednesday morning by U.S. District Judge James Cohn in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom.

The Sun-Sentinel said Rothstein "appeared visibly and dramatically changed by his six months in federal custody, much thinner with closely shorn gray hair and a goatee."

Rothstein, who turns 48 on Thursday, oversaw a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that collapsed last fall. He was arrested Dec. 1, 2009 after the scheme was exposed. Rothstein's plan was built on supposedly lucrative investments in faked confidential settlements.

Rothstein asked for mercy in a letter written to the judge in advance of the sentence. Rothstein said he contemplated suicide before returning to the United States to face the federal charges.

The prison sentence, 10 years more than prosecutors recommended, caps the swift downfall of Rothstein, whose now-defunct law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler was once considered a growing force in South Florida legal circles.

His taste in fancy Italian sports cars, an 87-foot custom yacht, glittering watches and big cigars made him seem larger-than-life, and turned him into a darling of politicians and sports stars. But, Rothstein told the judge in a letter, it was all a facade to feed his own "ego and greed."

"I did all I could to increase my power, to keep the myth alive, to feed the beast I had created, and to try to keep myself above the law," Rothstein wrote.

Rothstein pleaded guilty Jan. 27.

The government has seized Rothstein's assets and is in the process of selling them to pay restitution to victims. There is also an ongoing legal wrestling match over ownership of some of the assets and bank accounts linked to the scam and Rothstein's law firm.