Broward News

Scott Rothstein Saga: Stephen Caputi Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Stephen Caputi -- one of the four men who pleaded guilty in June to charges related to former Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme -- was sentenced today to five years in prison.

Caputi, 53, had previously entered a guilty plea for one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and received the maximum sentence for the crime.

He is the first of the four other codefendants in this round of indictments in the Rothstein saga to be sentenced to prison -- the other three being Howard Kusnick, 58, William Corte, 38, and Curtis Renie, 38, of Fort Lauderdale -- as they all entered guilty pleas to the same charge in June.

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.

He also posed as a plaintiff in fake confidential settlement agreements at Rothstein's request, showing fake documents to settlements saying he was owed $10 million in an attempt to have investors purchase the settlement agreements, according to the feds. Rothstein made around $5 million in the scheme, the documents say.

Caputi and Rothstein also co-owned Café Iguana, a Pembroke Pines nightclub, which was auctioned off by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Rothstein, who's serving a 50-year prison sentence, is scheduled to return to South Florida for a deposition in front of creditors owed money by his now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm.

That deposition was delayed in July by U.S. District Judge James Cohn after the feds revealed they were working on a multiperson indictment involving several of Rothstein's old Ponzi pals. Prosecutors feared Rothstein would tip off the suspects during his deposition -- which is rumored to include "a dozen to two dozen" indictments.

Prosecutors said they were analyzing 850,000 emails from the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm, and Rothstein -- "the main repository of information," the U.S. Attorney's Office says -- has been talking to the feds since November 2009.

Among the crimes they're looking into charging Rothstein's cohorts with are 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