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MIAMI, Fla. (CBSMiami/AP) — A former bank executive is facing five years in prison for his role in the billion dollar Ponzi scheme masterminded by one-time Ft. Lauderdale attorney, Scott Rothstein.
Frank Spinosa, 54, an ex-regional vice president at TD Bank, pleaded guilty in a Miami courtroom Thursday to wire fraud conspiracy. He was charged with providing false assurances to investors who put their money in Rothstein’s $1.2 billion scam. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Dec. 18.
Prosecutors said Spinosa held 38 fraudulent accounts at TD Bank that he used to lure investors into the scheme. Investors were told the money came from a pot of leftovers from legal settlements where plaintiffs opted to accept a lower lump sum in return for signing over the larger settlement. Those larger settlements, from cases that involved sexual harassment, discrimination and whistle-blowers, would then be paid in installments to investors.
In reality, neither the cases nor settlements actually existed.
Spinosa’s role was to assure investors that their money was safe in bank vaults with fictional “lock letters” that guaranteed no one else but them could touch the cash.
Defense attorneys argued that while Spinosa knew his lock letters were fabricated, he was unaware of Rothstein’s intentions to defraud investors.
Spinosa is likely the last of more than two dozen people to be convicted in the scheme. His guilty plea came less than two weeks before his scheduled trial, in which he was facing six charges of fraud and potentially a much longer prison term.
Earlier this year, TD Bank paid a $67 million judgment to a group of Texas investors in a civil suit.
Rothstein is serving a 50-year prison sentence after turning himself into authorities on RICO charges in 2009.
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