FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Kimberly Rothstein, the wife of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, appeared in federal court Friday afternoon to change her plea to guilty for allegedly attempting to hide over $1 million in jewelry from federal authorities.
Rothstein is accused in the crime along with her former attorney Scott Saidel and friend Stacie Weisman. The co-defendants changed their pleas to guilty as well.
Rothstein entered a guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruct justice, and tamper with a witness. When Rothstein showed up a court, she was dressed very plainly, wearing no jewelry. She would not comment to reporters about her change of plea.
Federal authorities said that on November 9, 2009, agents went to the Rothstein residence where Kim helped them retrieve what was believed to be all of the available cash, jewelry, and luxury watches which had been purchased with proceeds from Scott’s Ponzi scheme.
The Justice Department said that before and after the seizure Kim Rothstein, Weisman, and Saidel “knowingly took action conceal certain items of jewelry valued in excess of one million dollars for the purpose of preventing the government from exercising its authority to take such property into its lawful custody and control.”
Federal agents said Kim and Weisman then sold and attempted to sell a portion of the jewelry to and through various people.
The Justice Department also said that in civil proceedings instituted by the bankruptcy trustee, “all of the defendants took steps to obstruct justice by concealing the true location of certain items of jewelry in order to prevent its availability for use in those proceedings.
Attorney Jeffery Sonn represents some of the victims of the Ponzi scheme.
“What’s important is she’s being held accountable,” he said, “that Kim Rothstein is being held responsible for taking items of jewelry that were result of the Ponzi scheme.”
Sonn said the proceeds from the sale of that jewelry would have helped repay some of his clients for their losses.
“Every time that somebody like Kim Rothstein or some of the other people she’s charged with, tries to take property that comes from the Ponzi scheme it’s like stealing from the victim’s themselves,” said Sonn.
Rothstein faces up to five years in prison on the single federal charge she will plead guilty to in February.
The guilty plea may be one of the final convictions in the massive Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein. All total, Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme was $1.4 billion, the largest such fraud in South Florida history.