When federal agents showed up at Scott Rothstein’s waterfront Fort Lauderdale home in November 2009, his wife helped them retrieve what she claimed was all the cash, jewelry and watches that he had obtained with the millions stolen through his Ponzi scheme.
And Kimberly W. Rothstein, testifying the following February in the bankruptcy case of her husband’s defunct law firm, repeated that she had turned over all of the couple’s jewelry to authorities.
But as it turned out, Rothstein’s wife was hiding more than a bauble or two. Among the missing jewelry, prosecutors say: a 12.08-carat yellow diamond ring.
On Thursday, Kimberly Rothstein, 38, was charged along with her civil lawyer, Scott F. Saidel, 45, and her friend, Stacie Weisman, 49, with plotting to hide and sell more than $1 million worth of jewelry, watches and coins before IRS agents seized Scott Rothstein’s assets.
The three defendants were charged in federal court with money-laundering conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering with a witness: Scott Rothstein himself. The way the three were charged, via a document called an “information,’’ means they are likely to plead guilty in the near future.
Rothstein is serving a 50-year sentence after pleading guilty in early 2010 to racketeering and other fraud charges involving the sale of purported legal settlements to investors from Florida to New York. Eight other people, including employees of his former law firm, have been convicted on charges related to his $1.2 billion fraud scheme, among the largest in Florida history.
Kimberly Rothstein’s defense attorney, David Tucker, issued a statement Thursday saying while she was not aware of her husband’s “fraudulent activity” in the past, “she takes full responsibility for her actions in regard to the charge filed today.”
Weisman’s attorney, Alvin Entin, said his client came to know Kimberly Rothstein through Fort Lauderdale charity circles.
“She was trying to help a friend in need,” Entin said. “She has taken responsibility for her actions and done everything she could to set things right.”
Saidel, a Boca Raton lawyer, could not be reached for comment.
Prosecutors said that by concealing the valuable jewelry, the three defendants prevented Internal Revenue Service agents from confiscating the property when they searched Rothstein’s Mediterranean-style mansion.
His wife and Weisman are accused of selling some of the jewelry, including to Eddy Marin and Patrick Daoud, a longtime jeweler in Fort Lauderdale. Both were indicted on separate charges Thursday.
Kimberly Rothstein, Weisman and Saidel are also accused of seeking to have Scott Rothstein lie during his deposition in a related civil bankruptcy proceeding involving his defunct law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt & Adler.
All five defendants are charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly concealing the true location of certain items of jewelry during the bankruptcy proceeding to prevent the law firm’s trustee from recovering them for victims of Rothstein’s racket. As part of his punishment in the criminal case, Rothstein was ordered to pay about $370 million in restitution.
Marin, 50, and Daoud, 54, are also charged with committing perjury during depositions in the bankruptcy case.