Rothstein: "I Kept Spending Like It Was Really My Money"

Scott Rothstein wrote his letter to Judge James Cohn asking for leniency.

It really is an extraordinary letter and it comes after the jump. 

wrote that before fleeing to Morocco he contemplated suicide, "sitting in my shower, in my business suit, crying, with a .357 Magnum up against my head. I sat for well over an hour." He also wrote that he  thought of suicide in Morocco and drank a bottle of vodka and lined up pills to pull it off. 

Of course, that is all designed to show his remorse, extraordinary though it may be. Once again Rothstein is saying what he needs to say. His attorney, Marc Nurik wrote that his client shouldn't be hit with more 30 years because of a "media-induced hysteria."

Also writing letters were family members, and even attorney Bill Scherer, who has been getting cooperation from Rothstein in his civil suit. Noticably missing from the letter list so far is wife Kim.   

Hit the jump to read the letter.  

Here's the letter: 

Dear Judge Cohn,

I do not really possess the words to adequately explain the magnitude of what I have done, why I did it, and the overwhelming remorse and self-loathing I feel about myself and the intense harm and pain I have inflicted upon innocent people who trusted me and loved me only to be deceived by me; my actions can only be described in the most despicable of terms: I committed multiple acts of financial crimes against people that placed their trust in me. All in the name of ego and greed.

I was born June 10, 1962. Three years later my baby sister was born. My mom and dad and sister and I lived in a small apartment in the Bronx in a lower middle class neighborhood, right across the hall from my maternal grandparents. Thorughout my childhood and well beyond, my parents struggled financially. They both held down full time jobs and my sister and I worked as soon as were able. In the early 1970s our neighborhood had taken a turn for the worse and the financial pressure had increased. The only fights I remember my parents having were about money. To protect us and to try to make a better life for us my parents moved us to South Florida in 1976. It was s safer environment, but the financial struggle never subsided until I had been working as an attorney for about 7 years and was financially able to give my parents and my sister money to help ease the financial burden. Despite the financial difficulties in my life during this time and beyond, I was truly blessed. Money was never the end-all for any of us. What my parents and grandparents lacked in financial resources they more than made up for with love, caring, and compassion. My parents and grandparents taught my sister and me the importance of family, respect for others, and the importance of honesty, education, and hard work, and moreover, the mantra of giving back. We were taught that as little as we had, there were always those less fortunate. And we gave of our time and money, even it meant going without.

I translated those lessons in high school, college and law school and, upon graduation from law school, I continued to have what any objective observer would say was a successful life and career. Looking back, however, lurking just below the surface was a person so fearful of failure and so terrified of ever having to struggle the way his parents did, that it translated into an acute anxiety disorder that was, at times, debilitating, and for which I continue to seek treatment today. Moreover,I realize that it translated into an underlying set of character defects and personality flaws that would ultimately never allow me to accept any type of failure on my part. These traits would lay dormant for many years, held in check buy countervailing principles that were the foundation of my family upbringing, until my ego allowed them to manifest themselves in the form of an individual so narcissistic that I would do anything to avoid any type of chink in my armor; anything that would make me look less than uber-successul and perfect in every detail.

I loved being lawyer. I loved trying cases. I loved helping others. And I translated these loves into a job that again, looking back, was the most rewarding of my life; I was offered and accepted a position as an adjunct professor at Nova Law School, teaching trial advocacy in the evenings. I taught for nearly 11 years. It did not matter to me that the pay was almost non-existent (and eventually was non-existent due to budget issues). I was making a real difference in the lives of future attorneys. The joys of teaching were so intense that when I was offered a position on the NITA teaching team, a non-paying position teaching practicing lawyers trial skills, I proudly went all in.  

Throughout that time, I did everything in my power to instill in my students a work ethic and set of morals and ideals much like my parents and grandparents did their best to instill in me. That regardless of where you came from, hard work, honesty, integrity, respect for others, and giving back will rule the day, and grant you the give of having a positive impact on your community and the ability to give your family a beautiful life. Above all, I emphasized that zealous representation of your clients and ethical and honest representation of your clients were not mutually exclusive. I did everything in my power to instill a love for the law, respect for your clients and opponents, respect for the court system and the judiciary and a respect for the enormous power you wield as an attorney. So then, what propelled me to act in a manner so contrary to everything I had been taught, to the code I strived to live by, and to everything I tried to impart and instill in others? What ultimately caused the twisted personality that would allow me to wreak so much havoc upon people I love and that trusted me, to surface and to take control?

At the time I began to steal I had no actual fiscal reason to steal other than unbridled envy, pure greed and the absolute inability to deal with even the slightest notion of failure.

I had done well as an attorney. My partner and I had been named shareholders at a 36 lawyer firm in Hollywood, Florida and we had decided to break off and form our own firm that would operate as a labor and employment law boutique. We opened our offices in Fort Lauderdale rather than remaining in Hollywood and business grew at a better-than-average pace and clients began asking us to perform work for them in many other areas of the law. It was then that we decided that we would grow the firm as much as needed to[sic] in order to service all of our clients' needs. In hindsight, it was not simply to service our clients that drove me to grow the firm at what would fast become an unsustainable pace, (though it is what I would tell the world -- it's all about helping our clients) but what had become an insatiable desire to have a law firm that would be the envy of all others. The largest, the wealthiest, the most powerful, the finest of everything money and power could provide.

The only was, I had neither the client base, nor the financial resources, nor the requisite skill set to do what I set out to do. As my partner and I grew the firm, it was, at best, feast or famine, most often famine. But I would not accept failure ... at any cost. I became the "master" self promoter, lying about everything from the size of the firm to its success. I started traveling in very powerful and very wealthy circles. The money and the power were intoxicating. I began to live a life both personally and professionally that my business could not support. I watched as my friends and colleagues and those I perceived as my business circle prospered. I watched in envy as those I came up with through the ranks, and those I had grown close to through business and friendship, did far better than me. Jealousy and greed took hold. I began to spend like the wealthiest of my friends and colleagues. I began to live like them. My partner and I continued to grow the firm at an alarming pace despite the clear fact that the business would never support the growth. I needed to find some other way to fund the business and the lifestyle I had created out of thin air. Failure was not an option. Word had already spread like wildfire about "RRA," the firm to watch, the firm to beat, the newest power players. I was determined to do whatever I had to to[sic] make it work; which was simply continuing a charade which was, in hindsight, clearly doomed to fail.

I started by 'borrowing' money from people I knew who trusted me. Clients who had become friends and friends that had become clients. But rather than simply being honest with them and telling them I needed a loan (my ego would never allow myself to let someone else think I needed money -- that was a sign of failure and of weakness), I concocted elaborate lies about how the money was for bridge loans and the like for important clients and that the clients would pay outrageous interest to keep the loan confidential. And of course, since there really was no client, there could be no form of security from the client. So I concocted another life in a series of lies that in order to maintain strict confidentiality, I would guarantee the loan. And the facade I had masterminded made my word as good as gold.

This was the beginning of the end. 

Click here for Part II.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman