In a sign that the Rothstein scandal may be heading his way, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti informed the department today in an email that he has removed his right-hand man, Lt. David Benjamin, as head of the agency's internal affairs department.
It was Benjamin, you'll remember, who personally escorted Scott Rothstein to his jet at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport when Rothstein left the country for Morocco on October 27 after learning that his billion-dollar Ponzi scheme was imploding.
Benjamin, who serves as the sheriff's own "executive officer," is a long-time friend of Rothstein, who backed Lamberti in his election last year to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars in political cash.
Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal confirmed that the decision was at least in part based on Benjamin's role in the Rothstein saga. He said the sheriff's office has not opened an internal investigation into his ties with Rothstein.
"Obviously that issue is out there and I think in an abundance of caution and just doing the right thing, it's best that he not be running internal affairs at this point in time," Leljedal said, adding that Benjamin isn't under investigation by BSO. "We expect he will have to answer
questions [about Rothstein] like everybody else in Broward County."
Prediction: The Rothstein case is going to rock law enforcement in this town. The surfacing of corrupt cops in this thing seems like a given, just from what we know about Rothstein so far. Remember, Rothstein was surrounding himself with cops and as a lawyer represented the police union in Plantation for years. He paid Fort Lauderdale cops about $1,000 a day for protection. Some were heard to refer to Rothstein as their "boss." And he had a high-ranking deputy escort him to his plane when he lammed it to Morocco.
-- If you got ripped off by Scott Rothstein in his billion-dollar scheme (remember when I reported that figure last week? Well, the FBI now agrees), the feds want to hear from you. The Sentinel reported the information you need if Rothstein has pilfered your bank account:
"The number: 1-800-CALL-FBI, or 1-800-225-5324. Select the " Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler'' option, which is Option 3. Or email Rothstein.Investment@ic.fbi.gov."
Now if that isn't user-friendly law enforcement, I don't know what is.
-- Speaking of victims, no one was done worse than car dealer Ted Morse and his dad, Ed. To understand how close, check out this comment left on the blog last December from "Teddy Paparazzi," which appears to have been written by Ted's son, Teddy Morse (an email he included with the comment identifies him as such). I reported a Scott Rothstein takedown letter that Rothstein sent regarding another comment left on the blog. Rothstein himself weighed in (as he often did prior to his going kaboom) with a note about his "fierce loyalty" to the folks in his law firm. Here's a snippet of what Rothstein wrote:
Candidly, i enjoy the reading. Its amazing to see what people will write when they can hide their real identity. However, the law does not allow for the posting of blatant lies disseminated as fact...public figure or not. The comment that was posted was just that.... and was not only geared to harm me but many others that are employed by my firm. I am fiercely loyal and will always protect the amazing people that work for RRA. Thus, the take down letter.
After that came the Teddy Paparazzi post. To wit: