Bloomberg News

Two Rothstein Employees Charged in Lawyer’s Ponzi Scheme

December 01, 2011

(Updates with government accusations starting in eighth paragraph.)

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Federal prosecutors charged two more associates of Scott Rothstein, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, attorney who last year admitted to selling investors interest in bogus settlements in sexual-harassment and whistle-blower cases.

William Boockvor, 66, was charged today with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and helping Rothstein’s scheme by preparing false documents purportedly from TD Bank, where Rothstein’s firm held about 38 trust accounts, prosecutors said in a statement.

The statements were used to convince investors that Rothstein’s law firm was holding money in trust when in fact the money was being spent on his lavish lifestyle and political and charitable contributions. Boockvor worked for the firm doing a variety of administrative tasks, according to prosecutors.

Marybeth Feiss, 42, one of Rothstein’s administrative assistants, was charged with violating federal election campaign laws and conspiring to defraud the U.S. by helping to bundle more than $1 million in contributions to the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican.

The government said Feiss organized political fundraisers where contributions were solicited for McCain’s campaign. The law firm allegedly reimbursed its associates and employees for their contributions, disguising those payments as bonuses or expense reimbursements.

Possible Punishment

Each faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

Feiss, reached at home, declined to comment on the charges. No attorney was listed in federal records for Boockvor, and he couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Boockvoor used unidentified co-conspirators who worked for TD Bank to convince potential investors that the bank statements were legitimate, the government said.

The investors were brought to bank branches so that they could see employees give Rothstein the statements along with cover letters and envelopes that Boockvor helped the employees prepare, prosecutors said.

Rothstein sometimes asked to use a conference room where someone posing as a bank employee would show the investors the fake statements, prosecutors said. One investor transferred $10 million into a Rothstein account after being shown the false statements, they said.

Seeking Influence

Feiss participated in a conspiracy to bundle campaign contributions to “dramatically increase the political influence and power of RRA,” prosecutors said, referring to the Rothstein firm.

The contributions made the firm “the nation’s top total contributor to the joint fundraising committees for McCain,” according to the complaint. Rothstein was named a 2008 delegate to the Republican National Convention.

The complaint lists one contribution for $2,300 that Feiss made to McCain’s campaign and for which she was allegedly reimbursed by the firm.

Rothstein is serving a 50-year sentence for racketeering and conspiracy. The firm filed for bankruptcy after investors began demanding the return of their money.

The latest cases bring to eight the number of people charged in the scheme. “We are not done yet,” U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer in Miami said today in a statement.

The cases are U.S. v. Boockvor, 0:11-cr-60281, and U.S. v. Feiss, 0:11-cr-60282, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Charles Carter

To contact the reporter on this story: Susannah Nesmith in Miami at susannahnesmith@yahoo.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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