Broward News

Scott Rothstein Investors Set for Trial Against TD Bank; Rothstein's Pals Ordered to Appear

Coquina investments, which claims it lost $37.7 million in Scott Rothstein's billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, is slated to go to trial before a jury against TD Bank on October 24 in Miami.

The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2010, alleges two Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations and fraudulent misrepresentation against both Rothstein and TD Bank and additionally claims that TD Bank was aiding and abetting fraud.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke ordered that three of Rothstein's old Ponzi amigos appear before the court to give testimony during the trial.

William Corte, Curtis Renie, and Stephen Caputi, who recently received prison sentences ranging from three to five years after pleading guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, will testify in the case.

The lawsuit -- the second against TD Bank related to Rothstein's scheme -- claims that TD Bank officials helped contribute to the "aura of legitimacy" investors felt while dumping money into Rothstein's scam, claiming several higher-ups in the bank provided personal assurances to Rothstein's clients about their funds.

"Coquina reasonably relied on misrepresentations and material omissions made by Rothstein, TD Bank, and others in furtherance of the fraudulent scheme," the lawsuit says.

TD Bank filed the motion requesting for the three men to appear on October 3, presumably to show the jury it was they who are responsible for ripping off the investors, not the bank.

Renie and Corte, both 38-year-old former information technology workers for Rothstein's now-defunct law firm, pleaded guilty in June to a single count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and were each sentenced last week to 37 months in prison.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Renie and Corte -- the so-called "computer experts" -- were an integral part of Rothstein's scheme.

Rothstein offered $5,000 each to Renie and Corte for copying the website of TD Bank to a computer at his law firm in an attempt to be able to confirm that funds from investors were being held in trust accounts, authorities say.

Once this was done, investors could view the website -- which looked nearly identical to TD Bank's -- from inside the law firm, allowing investors to view the information in their fake accounts.

For much of 2009, Rothstein would give Renie and Corte a copy of bank account information with balances written next to the printed balances and ask them to update the fake website with the new balances.

Caputi, 53, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and received the maximum prison sentence of five years.

According to Caputi's indictment, he had posed as a TD Bank official during meetings with unknowing Ponzi scheme investors and would actually hold these meetings in a conference room at a TD Bank location in Weston that Rothstein had set up with bank officials.

Caputi would then present false bank statements to show to investors, telling them he's a customer service representative who worked for the bank, gaining confidence from the investors that their accounts were full of cash.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is still preparing its impending indictment against more alleged Rothstein co-conspirators, which include charges related to mail fraud, wire fraud, campaign finance fraud, tax fraud, extortion, payments of unlawful gratuities, bank fraud, and money laundering, according to a previous court filing.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley