Broward Sheriff's Lt. David Benjamin, who serves as Sheriff Al Lamberti's "executive officer," escorted Scott Rothstein through Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to his chartered jet when the fallen lawyer fled the country for Morocco last week.
Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal confirmed that Rothstein phoned his friend Benjamin, who was off-duty and armed at the time, on the night of October 27 and asked him to escort him to his plane. Leljedal says Rothstein told Benjamin he was going on a business trip and that Lamberti's right-hand man had no idea Rothstein's fraudulent business scheme had imploded and he was fleeing the country.
"[Benjamin] got a phone call from Rothstein, and he said he was going on a
business trip and his regular security people were off-duty," Leljedal told me. "He asked [Benjamin] to meet him at the airport and walk him to the plane. Dave agreed to do it.
"He met him. They walked to the plane, the driver loaded some luggage, and Dave said goodbye. He was doing it as a friend. They have been friends for many years."
Leljedal said Lamberti had no idea about the trip and didn't learn that Benjamin had escorted Rothstein to his jet. Which he said was chartered by Banyan Air Service, until today.
Lamberti is a known friend of Rothstein's, who was associated with roughly $200,000 in campaign contributions to the sheriff. Rothstein had a signed picture of Lamberti on his wall on which the sheriff wrote, "Scott, thanks for all your support and for always being there for me!"
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Apparently the sheriff, or at least his personal executive officer, was there for Rothstein as well.
It's yet another bizarre twist to the Rothstein saga, which seems destined to consume this town for the indefinite future. Rothstein was obsessed with security to the point that he hired Fort Lauderdale police officers to protect him and his family at a cost of about $1,000 a day.
Much speculation surrounds Rothstein's exit from the country. I've heard numerous reports that he had a duffle bag full of cash when he returned from Morocco on Tuesday. I've heard there was $3 million in it, though that's not confirmed, and many wonder how much cash he had when he left the country.
Leljedal said Rothstein didn't go through any security or U.S. Customs when he left for Morocco and that neither was necessary because he was flying on a private plane through a chartered service.