Kim Rothstein's former attorney pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to help her hide more than $1 million in jewelry from federal authorities.
Scott Saidel took off his designer eyeglasses and bowed his head after admitting his role in the doomed scheme put together after the Ponzi scheme of Kim's husband, Scott Rothstein, spectacularly collapsed.
Saidel, Kim Rothstein and one of Kim Rothstein's friends hid the jewels, including a 12-carat diamond ring, from the federal government, attempting to secretly sell the pieces, according to Saidel's plea agreement. Saidel also acknowledged they plotted to persuade the imprisoned Scott Rothstein to lie under oath about the ring's whereabouts.
Saidel faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced June 7 for conspiring to commit money laundering, obstruct justice and tamper with a witness. Kim Rothstein and her friend, Stacie Weisman, are set to enter their own guilty pleas in the case Friday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
Saidel, 45, told U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum he expects to lose his law license. A Florida Bar official said Wednesday that a guilty plea to a felony charge sets into motion the suspension process.
The Boca Raton attorney already has paid the federal government about $65,000 and he agreed Wednesday to forfeit an additional $2,500 in cash, four expensive pens and a pair of mother of pearl, diamond and sapphire cuff links.
Kim Rothstein, Saidel and Weisman had planned to sell off jewelry through local jeweler Patrick Daoud and businessman Eddy Marin, according to Saidel's plea deal.
Weisman would receive the money and then it would be put into a trust account administered by Saidel, federal prosecutors allege.
Daoud and Marin have pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice and perjury charges related to the jewelry.
Attorneys had been set to quiz Scott Rothstein about the 12-carat diamond ring's whereabouts during a June deposition. That prompted Kim Rothstein, Saidel and Weisman to devise a plan to get Scott Rothstein to claim he sold the ring to a man who recently died, federal prosecutors allege.
That part of Scott Rothstein's deposition was canceled, though, and he was never questioned about the ring.
Scott Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in January 2010 to five felony charges related to his $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest investment fraud in South Florida history. The scam had fueled Rothstein's meteoric rise from a little-known Plantation attorney practicing labor law to the head of a 70-lawyer firm in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Kim Rothstein, 38, has maintained she knew nothing about her husband's criminal activities until the Ponzi scheme unraveled in late October 2009. Federal authorities quickly seized the couple's high-end homes, fleet of luxury cars, cash, jewelry and watches.
Federal prosecutors have alleged Kim Rothstein lied about the missing jewelry in a February 2010 deposition she gave in the bankruptcy case of the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-356-4491 or Twitter @jkburstein ___