David Benjamin, the former Broward Sheriff's deputy accused of accepting more than $20,000 from convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in Fort Lauderdale federal court at a hearing on Monday morning.
Federal prosecutors filed criminal conspiracy charges against Benjamin last April after he took money and gifts from Rothstein to use his influence and power as a cop to help the Ponzi schemer. Benjamin had become Rothstein's de facto head of security, hiring other cops to intimidate and arrest any perceived Rothstein enemy on trumped-up charges.
In November 2009, New Times reported that Benjamin, 48, escorted Rothstein to his chartered jet at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport when the Ponzi schemer fled the U.S. for Morocco.
Rothstein, New Times wrote, had called Benjamin, who was off-duty and armed at the time, hours before the plane was scheduled to take off and asked him to do it.
Benjamin was moved out of BSO Central Command in response to this.
Benjamin had also threatened the boyfriend of an escort who apparently had sex with Stuart Rosenfeldt, one of Rothstein's partners. The boyfriend was threatening to expose Rosenfeldt until Benjamin stepped in.
Benjamin also had a fellow deputy arrest Marcy Romeo on trumped-up drug charges in 2009. Romeo is the ex-wife of Douglas Banks -- another lawyer pal of Rothstein's.
It was Romeo's victim impact statement in federal court that seemed to be the most damning.
According to the Sun Sentinel, Romeo looked at Benjamin during her statement, saying, "I've never met you and I'm 'that bitch' you told [Jeff Poole] to arrest. Well, my name's Marcy and I'm a mother and I'm a daughter and I'm an aunt and I'm a sister, I'm a cousin -- I'm a human being."
Benjamin, who admitted to using his power as a high-ranking BSO deputy to have Romeo arrested, tried to apologize to her as she gave her statement in court.
Romeo claims to be suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder after having been arrested and strip-searched by BSO deputies. Benjamin used the fact that Romeo's son has autism and needs prescription meds for treatment.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge James Cohn said he wanted Romeo to be there to see Benjamin sentenced and led away in cuffs.
New Times reported another instance of Benjamin behaving badly, this time concerning an incident in which he left a threatening phone message for Dep. John Bailen.
Bailen had apparently been trying to expose a verbal spat between then-Sheriff Al Lamberti and current Sheriff Scott Israel.
When Israel was sworn in as new BSO sheriff in 2013, one of his first acts was to fire Benjamin.
For being Rothstein's muscle and friend, Benjamin was paid more than $150,000 in cash and got more than $300,000 in gifts, such as jewelry, meals, tickets to sporting events, and rides to those sporting events on private jets.
After his sentencing on Monday, Benjamin was immediately cuffed and taken into custody.
"Mr. Benjamin, while wearing the cloak of BSO authority, engineered the arrest and incarceration of an innocent citizen," Judge Cohn said, via the Sentinel.
"This was done purely for financial gain. This conduct is deplorable -- it is unconscionable."
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