He's a Ponzi schemer, a fraudster, involved with corrupt politicians and the Mob, but Scott Rothstein insists he's not a murderer.
Under intense questioning by attorney Mary Barzee Flores during a deposition last month, the "Prince of Darkness" vehemently denied being involved in the 2008 murder of one of his employees, Melissa Britt Lewis. In fact, Rothstein -- who earlier admitted he slept with Lewis while he was her law school professor -- got so huffy at Barzee Flores' questioning that he had to take a break from the depo.
"Excuse me?" he said. "Are you attempting to insinuate that I had something to do with that poor girl's death? Have you lost your mind?"
Voicing a theory many observers have speculated about for years, Barzee Flores noted that Lewis was best friends with Debra Villegas, Rothstein's right-hand woman at the firm. Since Villegas was helping Rothstein carry out his scheme, Lewis must have known something about all the criminal activity going on, Barzee Flores suggested.
Q At some point Debra Villegas' best friend and then your former lover was murdered?
A That's correct. She was.
Q She was murdered because she knew too much, right?
A Excuse me? Are you attempting to insinuate that I had something to do with that poor girl's death? Have you lost your mind?
Q You would deny that?
A I would deny it? You're disgusting. Everyone knows that I wasn't involved in it. That's disgusting.
Then Barzee Flores brought up Julie Timmerman, a former clerk at Rothstein's firm whose law school education was paid for by Rothstein. Timmerman committed suicide in January 2010, months after Rothstein's scheme imploded. Police denied that her death had anything to do with the scheme. But Barzee Flores isn't convinced.
Q How about Julie Timmerman?
A No. No. That is disgusting. Okay. I was a criminal involved in white-collar crime, involved in fraud and the like, involved with the mob and corrupt politicians and corrupt law enforcement. I'm paying for that. Melissa Lewis was a good person. She didn't know too much. She was killed by a psychopath. And you're disgusting for doing that.
Q You gave Debra Villegas a house, right?
A Why drag her family through that? They're going to have to read this, for your purposes, to defend John Harris, who's guilty.
Q You gave Debra Villegas a house --
A You should be ashamed.
Q -- right?
THE WITNESS: I want five minutes. You should be ashamed of yourself. You think I should be in jail. You should be ashamed.
MS. BARZEE FLORES: We'll talk about Julie Timmerman when you come back.
THE WITNESS: You're a disgusting human being. You're the only one out of this entire group of lawyers. You are truly, truly a disgusting human being.
MR. NURIK: Scott, relax. (Thereupon, a recess was taken.)
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 would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.