When hot-shot Florida attorney Scott Rothstein’s world of excess collapsed with his $1.2 billion dollar Ponzi scheme, it was inevitable there would be collateral damage, but who could have guessed that Rothstein’s massive fraud would also bring down his beleaguered spouse’s lawyer?
Rothstein’s wife, Kim, shocked by her husband’s criminal acts, had lawyer Scott Saidel by her side, as federal investigators moved to repossess their homes, their yacht, and all the other “stuff” they took such pride in as Rothstein bilked family and friends, all the while parading around Florida like a “big man on campus”.
Boca Raton attorney Scott Saidel, who called himself a friend of Kim Rothstein’s, apparently felt sorry for her, particularly after her husband was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Unfortunately, his compassion led him to participate in a fraudulent scheme to hide over $1 million dollars of her jewellery, including a 12-carat diamond ring, despite a court order that all assets be relinquished to the trustee in bankruptcy.
He then secreted over half a million dollars in his law firm trust account when she sold a portion of the gold and gems. But there was more. Mr. Saidel and Kim Rothstein also conspired to convince the imprisoned Mr. Rothstein to falsely testify that the 12-carat ring had already been sold, so that they could keep it away from the bankruptcy trustee.
Scott Saidel was charged with money laundering, obstructing justice and tampering with a witness. Ms. Rothstein and a girlfriend, who also took part, were also arrested and charged.
Florida newspapers reported that Mr. Saidel wept as he apologized to the court and others for his “error in judgment”, a characterization of his crimes that drew ire from prosecutors. Saidel’s attorney made a passionate plea to the court that out of her client’s desire to help a friend, he had lost his career, his wife and family, and all his assets. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
After reading the news stories I almost felt sorry for Mr. Saidel, until I learned that his “assistance” to his client/friend, added $65,000 to his personal coffers, a hefty sum he was ordered to disgorge as a result of the convictions.
I also learned that Mr. Saidel’s Florida disbarment was not the first time he had fallen afoul of the criminal law. Saidel had practiced law in Arizona, prior to moving to Florida, and was barred from the practice of law for six months after pleading guilty to two felonies arising from an incident that left two passengers in the vehicle he was driving suffering serious bodily injury. Excess speed and alcohol were major contributors to the accident.
Kim Rothstein awaits her sentencing.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang