The last of three partners in the law firm at the center of the largest Ponzi scheme in South Florida history was sentenced Thursday to 33 months in prison.
Stuart Rosenfeldt, 59, will also serve two years of supervised release when his prison time is up.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke rejected pleas for leniency from Rosenfeldt’s attorneys and dozens of friends, family members and professional associates who wrote letters asking her to go easy on the disgraced attorney.
Rosenfeldt was a partner in the Fort Lauderdale firm of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler, which was the center of operations for a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence for his crimes.
Russell Adler, 52, Delray Beach, surrendered on Monday to begin serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for illegally funneling campaign donations to Republican candidates on Rothstein’s behalf.
Fort Lauderdale NewsTwo more charged in Rothstein Ponzi schemeSee all related
Rosenfeldt pleaded guilty to a similar charge of conspiracy in June, and sentencing guidelines called for him to serve anywhere between 33 and 41 months in prison. But the judge could have departed from those guidelines to impose a lighter sentence if she chose.
She decided not to.
Cooke said she considered “all the occasions when he could have said no and he didn’t; all the times he could have said the buck stops here and he didn’t.”
Federal prosecutor Lawrence LaVecchio argued that Rosenfeldt’s personal situation, which includes a troubled teenage son who looks up to his father as a stabilizing force in his life, is no different from those of 24 Rothstein scandal-related defendants who have been sentenced before.
“It’s my experience that this is typical — a defendant in his 50s with no prior criminal record who has done some good things in his life,” LaVecchio said.
But a history of good deeds does not negate the crime Rosenfeldt committed, which included campaign finance fraud and encouraging a law enforcement officer to abuse his power, LaVecchio said.
“Rothstein only solicited and utilized those people who would be willing to engage in criminal behavior on his behalf. Many people said no to Scott Rothstein,” LaVecchio said. “This defendant was not one of them.”
“You have a man who not only has an education, values, a moral compass … When are we to expect, in a person like him, his inner Jiminy Cricket to say, ‘No, you’re not supposed to be doing this?’ ” Cooke said. “When people commit crimes, no one goes to jail alone. You go inside alone, but everyone around you is affected.”
Rosenfeldt was given until Jan. 5 to surrender and begin serving his sentence.
Tonya Alanez, Disbarred, publicly shamed and with a suicide attempt behind him, the last in the triad of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothsteins law partners is making a plea for mercy. He wants a federal judge to consider his troubled teenage sons well-being before meting out punishment,… Disbarred, publicly shamed and with a suicide attempt behind him, the last in the triad of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothsteins law partners is making a plea for mercy. He wants a federal judge to consider his troubled teenage sons well-being before meting out punishment,… ( Tonya Alanez, ) –>
In a brief statement to the judge, he apologized for breaking the law and vowed to spend the rest of his life redeeming himself.
“I sincerely apologize to the court, to the Florida Bar, to the community I tried to serve and most importantly, to my family,” Rosenfeldt said.
Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme involved the fraudulent sale of confidential lawsuit settlements to investors, whose money paid prior investors in the scheme. Rothstein used his illegal gains to carry on an extravagant lifestyle of opulence and political influence.
The fraud was exposed in late October 2009, and the statute of limitations expires at the end of this month. Prosecutors most recently brought charges against the Rothstein firm’s general counsel, David Boden, and investment broker Richard L. Pearson, who worked in the same Fort Lauderdale building as Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler.
Both are expected to plead guilty and face a maximum of five years in prison.
Prosecutors have until the end of this month to bring charges against anyone else suspected of being involved in the Ponzi scheme and its related crimes.
Rolmeda@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4457, Twitter @SSCourts
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