A Surfside investment advisor was charged Thursday with collaborating with convicted Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein in his $1.2 billion investment scam — possibly the last co-conspirator to be charged in the notorious Ponzi scheme.
Michael Szafranski, 36, charged with a wire-fraud conspiracy, was released on a $250,000 personal surety bond. Szafranski is accused of receiving hefty commissions from Rothstein while he advised a major investment group that sank millions of dollars into the lawyer’s scheme.
Rothstein, now serving a 50-year prison sentence, sold fabricated legal settlements to wealthy investors from Florida to New York.
Szafranski played an insider’s role as a purported “independent verifier” for the investment group. But federal prosecutors say he held back suspicious information from the group while encouraging investors to sink more money into Rothstein’s scam, until it collapsed in October 2009.
Szafranski’s defense attorney said he plans to plead not guilty and go to trial.
“Rothstein deceived Szafranski and many others,” Miami attorney Howard Srebnick said. “Rothstein’s deceit continues, as he tries to lie his way out of a 50-year prison sentence by falsely accusing Szafranski.”
Szafranski’s case marks the 29th defendant to be charged in the Rothstein investigation, including the now-disbarred lawyer. He ran the racket out of his defunct 70-lawyer firm, a massive financial crime that also ruined the careers of his named partners, Stuart Rosenfeldt and Russell Adler.