Ponzi Schemes Carry Harsh Penalties

Former Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein is currently serving a 50-year federal prison term for fraud, racketeering and money laundering. Assisted by numerous other professionals (bankers, lawyers, financial advisors, accountants and computer experts), Rothstein convinced scores of investors to pour money into his $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, which claimed stakes in large legal settlements that did not exist.

Rothstein's scheme collapsed in December 2009 when he was indicted on federal charges. The charging documents indicated that numerous other people aided him in the fraud. However, those co-conspirators remained unnamed and uncharged until late May 2011 when prosecutors indicted four individuals related to the scheme. Charges against up to another two-dozen co-conspirators are possible over the coming months.

According to documents recently filed by the government, these additional co-conspirators could face federal charges including money laundering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, campaign finance fraud, tax fraud, extortion and payments of unlawful gratuities.

Big Numbers

The potential sentences for these crimes are sobering. For example, money laundering carries a prison term of up to 20 years with a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the involved property. Both bank and wire fraud carry a fine of up to $1,000,000 and up to 30 years in prison. With as many crimes as Rothstein's co-conspirators are facing, the possible fines and years in prison add up quickly.

Contact an Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with crimes similar to those as Rothstein's co-conspirators, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and your options.