MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A former law partner of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein pleaded guilty Friday in connection with Rothstein’s $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme.
Steven Lippman, 50, of Plantation pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to break federal election laws and commit bank fraud.
Sentencing is set for September 14th. He faces up to five years in prison
Lippman, a shareholder in Rothstein’s now defunct law firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler (RRA), was illegally reimbursed by RRA for certain political contributions he made including the presidential campaign of John McCain.
The indictment claimed Rothstein enlisted Lippman and others to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to the McCain campaign and RRA would unlawfully reimburse them.
In one instance, prosecutors said, Lippman made a $67,800 contribution to McCain-Palin Victory 2008. Lippman, in turn, received a check from RRA in the amount of $77,500, which constituted reimbursement of the funds he used to make the contribution.
The check was fraudulently backdated to reflect that it was issued six days prior to the date of the actual contribution and the memo section of the check stated “bonus.”
The goal of these contributions was to increase the firm’s political influence and it appeared to have worked. As a result, Rothstein was named a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention and was appointed as a member of the Judicial Nominating Committee for the State of Florida.
Lippman also took part in a bank fraud scheme with Rothstein that made it appear RRA was an affluent and successful law firm and to gain additional time to meet the financial obligations of RRA, stated prosecutors. Prosecutors claim he did this in a scheme called “check kiting,” which is floating checks between accounts to inflate posted balances.
Lippman was also charged with tax fraud for failing to report certain expense reimbursements and other income from RRA.
Lippman is the 9th person including Rothstein to plead guilty in the Ponzi scam, which involved investments in phony legal settlements.
Others who have pleaded guilty to criminal charges include RRA’s former chief operating officer, the chief technology officer, a computer technician, an administrative assistant and Rothstein’s uncle, who worked at the firm.
Rothstein is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to racketeering, money laundering and fraud. He is serving the sentence in an undisclosed location after helping authorities prosecute a reputed Mafia figure.