Nurik: Rothstein Left Great Opportunity in Morocco to Face Music
Also writing a letter to Judge Cohn for Scott Rothstein was attorney Bill Scherer, who is not only a member of the bankruptcy committee but is also a representing several of Rothstein's victims in a civil suit against alleged co-conspirators.
I've reported here before that Rothstein was giving Scherer information to use in his lawsuit, which is why he wrote the letter. Here's the key passage in the short letter:
"I write you today to inform you that Mr. Rothstein, through his criminal defense counsel Marc Nurik, has been an extremely valuable resource in helping to put the pieces of this Ponzi puzzle together. Mr. Rothstein has cooperated in providing accurate, useful, and trustworthy information that has allowed us to make significant inroads that will not only benefit innocent victims I represent, but will also benefit the creditor body at-large. I genuinely believe that Mr. Rothstein is intent on helping to assist and fulfill his express promise to make all legitimate investors whole."
There is also, of course, the sentencing memorandum written by Rothstein's attorney, Marc Nurik. In it, Nurik asks that Judge Cohn depart from the sentencing guidelines and give Rothstein 30 years. Here's one of the more interesting passages from the 20-page report:
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[M]uch has been made about the manner in which Scott Rothstein lived his life. No doubt, his ostentatious behavior, outrageously obsessive
materialism and 'in your face' public persona have contributed to, if not been the primary cause of, the unprecedented intensive media coverage and public vilification of Mr. Rothstein. Had Mr. Rothstein conducted his affairs more privately and been more discrete in displaying his wealth, no doubt the level of public scorn and schadenfraude would be considerably less (as in the case of the alleged architects of the Mutual Benefits fraud which ironically involved greater losses to investors, but has yielded hardly any media attention by comparison). Yet, regardless of one's personal style, outlandish or not, the net effect on the victims of the one's crime is not altered. A loss is a loss, a fraud is a fraud. The point is that the sentence that Mr. Rothstein deserves should be based on the gravity of his crimes rather than disapproval of his lifestyle."
Well, it's true that Joel Steinger not only ran a bigger Ponzi scheme but also ripped off a whole lot more innocent and sympathetic victims than Rothstein. The real difference between the two is that Steinger wasn't an attorney who gripped the imagination of the entire legal community of Broward County. He also never made a dramatic flight to Morocco. Steinger, who like Rothstein has cooperated with the feds, today is living at his Fort Lauderdale waterfront mansion with a trial set for 2011.
Reading Nurik's description of Rothstein's lifestyle, you keep waiting for him to write, "I know exactly how big an 'in-your-face' asshat he was, since I worked side-by-side with him for several years." Nurik's representation of Rothstein has never seemed right, and questions about his compensation still haven't fully been answered. With Rothstein now so far up in the government's collective nether regions, those answers will probably never come.
Here's what Nurik wrote about Rothstein's return from Morocco:
On October 30, 2009, while a select few individuals began learning of the existence and magnitude of his ponzi scheme, Mr. Rothstein was ensconced in Morocco, a jurisdiction with no extradition treaty with the United States, with approximately 16 million dollars in liquid funds at his disposable [sic] and the ability to convert addtional assets into cash. He was clearly in a position to avoid U.S. jurisdiction and live out his life very comfortably in a locale that, despite popular misconceptions, offered him substantial business opportunities and a continued lavish lifestyle. It would have been simple to have his immediate family, especially his wife, join him ther
e accompanied by her millions of dollars of jewelry. Even without psychic powers, Scott Rothstein was certainly intelligent enough... to recognize that to return to the United States and confront his crimes would likely result in a very lengthy incarceration, financially and emotionally destroying himself and his family, and being forced to confront unbearable shame and humiliation in front of all who admired and personally depended on him. Yet return is exactly what he did.
Yes, how "simple" it all was, how easy it would have been to convince Kim to join him in Morocco and hit the charity circuit in Rabat. What a crock. Had Rothstein tried to live his life as a businessman in Morocco, which is exactly what he planned to do, he would have been a marked man for the rest of his life. He ripped off millions from the Levy family, which has heavy ties to Israeli organized crime elements. He ripped off millions from heavies in New York. He would have been alone in Morocco, always looking over his shoulder.
Let's not forget that Rothstein flew his bodyguard Bob Scandiffio to Casablanca for two reasons: Because he was scared and because he wanted Scandiffio to play along with a bogus -- and ultimately repulsive -- story that he thought would reduce his sentence. It was pure Rothstein, and it shatters the idea that he came back from Morocco to "do the right thing," as Nurik writes.
Mixed in with all the Nurik fantasy was a bit of reality. The attorney gave a glimpse of the true plan: "The nature and extent of Mr. Rothstein's substantial cooperation with the federal authorities will not be detailed here," he wrote. "Nor will it be the basis at this time of any motion by the Government for a downward departure, or otherwise to reduce his sentence. Instead, it is anticipated that these issues will be addressed at a later time."
So the plan is that on Wednesday morning, Rothstein gets his public flogging and lengthy prison sentence. Then, later, quietly, he comes back and asks for a reduction in the sentence based on all the convictions he's produced and all the justice he's brought to the Justice Department. And it just might work.
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