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Convicted Fla. Ponzi schemer Rothstein to face more questions on details of $1.2B fraud
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) ' Convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein will undergo a second round of questioning under oath about the inner workings of his $1.2 billion fraud, a judge ruled Friday.
Rothstein was grilled for two weeks late last year by attorneys representing wronged investors. This time, beginning June 4, he will give testimony in more than two dozen cases arising from the bankruptcy of his once-prominent firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.
A court-appointed trustee has filed lawsuits seeking some $500 million against various entities connected to Rothstein in hopes of recovering money for investors and creditors. The trustee's lawyer, Charles Lichtman, said despite testimony that filled some 2,900 transcript pages in the first so-called "Big Deposition," a second one is crucial.
"The testimony taken in the Big Deposition won't be useful for these 29 cases," Lichtman said.
Rothstein, a 49-year-old disbarred lawyer, is serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to orchestrating the Ponzi scheme, which involved investments in phony legal settlements. He has said he is fully cooperating in both the ongoing criminal investigation and the civil lawsuits in hopes of winning a sentence reduction.
U.S. District Judge James Cohn ordered that Rothstein appear for the second 10-day deposition via video conference from prison, rather than in person as he did the first time. Because of his cooperation in a South Florida mob-related prosecution, Rothstein is being held at an undisclosed location within the prison witness protection program.
Prosecutor Lawrence LaVecchio said the Justice Department does not oppose the second round of testimony, but he questioned whether it might be repetitive.
"I don't see there are a lot of questions that were left unanswered regarding the Ponzi scheme," LaVecchio said.
Cohn denied requests from several attorneys that the deposition be videotaped so it could be played for juries at future trials. Justice Department officials have raised unspecified security concerns about videotaping, Cohn said.
While the lawsuits grind on, prosecutors say more criminal charges are expected in the coming months. In his first deposition, Rothstein fingered numerous people he claimed played roles in the Ponzi scheme including former law partners and bankers. Attorneys for those people contend he's lying so he can get out of prison.
So far, eight people including Rothstein have been charged in the case. All but one has pleaded guilty, and that person is scheduled to do so next week.
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