Scott Rothstein is meeting with federal prosecutors tonight, according to numerous sources, and criminal charges appear imminent in the apparent Ponzi scheme that exceeds $400 million.
In short, he's facing the music. One source says Rothstein sent a text message to a close friend (and victim) today that included the words, "I'm a liar... I'm a thief... I let you down... I'm sorry."
The Sun-Sentinel quoted a text message an apparently suicidal Rothstein sent to Stuart Rosenfeldt on Saturday from Morocco (my wife snared this quote -- beaten in my own house!): "Sorry for letting you all down. I am a fool. I thought I could fix it but got trapped by my ego and refusal to fail and now all I have accomplished is hurting the people I love. Please take care of yourselves and please protect Kimmie. She knew nothing. Neither did she nor any of you deserve what I did. I hope God allows me to see you on the other side. Love, Scott."
If he came clean before God, now he's coming clean before a more immediate power: Uncle Sam. And he's allegedly pointing the finger at a TD Bank official as being an accomplice in the crime in hopes of shearing some time off his eventual sentence. There is also talk -- drum roll please -- that he is giving up information on Gov. Charlie Crist, whom he lavished with
campaign contributions and boasted of having a close friendship. I told you this morning that a lawyer who formerly worked for his firm claimed that Rothstein was selling face-time with Crist to clients for $50,000. He also told me that Rothstein routinely told lawyers in the firm to pony up contributions to politicians and he would then reimburse them with cash. (This is often said to be standard at a lot of businesses, but it's still a felony.) I am continuing to investigate another matter that I hope to shed light on tomorrw.
But the bottom line is that Rothstein is finished. And that's strange after he was such a powerful, in-your-face, flashy force in this town for the past couple of years. And our paths for some reason seemed to cross constantly. At one point, it seemed like he was going to be my nemesis for life, and I used to think how absurd it was. It was as if Rothstein was turning this town into Gotham, a dark place where raw corrupt power trumps everything else and insane grudges are played out all the time. He had his headquarters at Bova Prime, where he held court with Dan Marino and other celebrities. When he told me seethingly that he was going to destroy me and my family, it was sort of an other-worldly experience. It was like I was in a bad comic book.
A lot of big stories I wrote somehow wound up uncovering wrongdoing involving his "friends." It infuriated him, but more than that, I'm certain he was afraid I was going to uncover his Ponzi scheme.
I spoke with famed political consultant and dirty trickster Roger Stone today, and he told me that Rothstein called him about me and that he is sure that Rothstein wanted to shut me down before I found him out. (Stone also told me he met Rothstein in 2006 at a dinner with Charlie Crist. I'll have more from Stone tomorrow.)
I wrote about Crist in unflattering terms; Rothstein claimed Crist was one of his closest friends (it was a show, and we'll see how "surprised" Crist is when the next revelations come down the pike). I wrote about Judge Ana Gardiner and prosecutor Howard Scheinberg, not knowing that Rothstein apparently was friends with both. When Scheinberg resigned from his job at the State Attorney's Office after my article came out, Rothstein hired him at his firm.
I found Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu to be a corruption fighter. It was Alu who was the main source for the Gardiner story and was helping the FBI try to clean up Broward. Of course, Rothstein hated Alu with a passion. It was like it was the natural order of things; Rothstein and I were always on opposite sides. He would tell me that he was planning to sue or file ethics complaints against her. But his arguments were laughable. There's more to that story but no time to tell it now.
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The point is, you might think I'd be celebrating right now (somebody wrote that on another messageboard) or gloating. I'm not. I feel almost sad, in fact. I think part of it is that, whether you liked Rothstein or hated him (and the 43 voices he said he had rattling in his head), he was a bigger-than-life personality. He made things interesting. Look at these past few days. This is the biggest and most dramatic and engrossing and suspenseful story to hit this town... ever, I think.
This story isn't over by a long shot. There's a lot to uncover, a lot to discover. I believe this is more a political corruption story than a financial one, and I predict that it will collide with the ongoing federal investigation already under way.
But today, it feels like a chapter is finished. It's the chapter about Rothstein the big spender, the mogul, the Jewish Avenger, the guy who was going to bull his way into owning this entire town. It's funny, for the past couple of days, I've been thinking of Rothstein as a guy who would never come back, who would live on the lam, in the shadows. That was intriguing. But now he's just gonna be another guy in a prison jumpsuit.
This town is going to be better without him, without a doubt. But you can be just as sure it will be a less interesting place too.