Bloomberg News

Florida Ponzi Schemer Rothstein’s Associates Set to Change Pleas

June 09, 2011

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Four South Florida men who pleaded not guilty to aiding Scott Rothstein in a $1.2 billion investment scheme involving fake court settlements are set to change their pleas, according to court filings.

Howard Kusnick, an attorney at Rothstein’s Fort Lauderdale law firm; Curtis Renie and William Corte, information technology employees of the firm; and Stephen Caputi, an associate of Rothstein’s, are scheduled for change-of-plea hearings in federal court in Florida starting next week, according to case dockets. Each was charged in May with a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Rothstein pleaded guilty to five counts of racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud in January 2010, admitting he sold investors interests in fake lawsuit settlements. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, declined to comment, as did Hy Shapiro, Caputi’s attorney, and Joshua Rydell, Kusnick’s attorney. Alvin Entin, who represents Corte, and Albert Levin, an attorney for Renie, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Prosecutors said Kusnick wrote a letter claiming to have settled a pending case in a client’s favor when the case had never been filed and no settlement existed. Caputi attended meetings with potential investors in the scheme, acting as a banker or as a plaintiff in fictitious suits, prosecutors said.

Renie and Corte created a Web page designed to look like it was the website of a bank so investors would think Rothstein’s law firm held as much as $1.1 billion in trust accounts, prosecutors charge.

Each faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The cases are U.S. v. Kusnick, 11-60125, U.S. v. Caputi, 11-60124, U.S. v. Renie, 11-60123, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Mary Romano

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