A group of investors filed a lawsuit Friday against Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein, saying he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from them with the help of an inner circle of employees at his law firm and a handful of officers at a Canadian bank.
In the suit, which reads more like a racketeering indictment, the investors accuse Rothstein of conspiring with others to fabricate confidential legal settlements to sell to wealthy investors and to falsify bank records to disguise his theft from their trust accounts.
It was a "classic Ponzi scheme" where Rothstein paid off older investors with newer ones' money over four years -- until it collapsed last month, the suit says. He duped them into believing their investments were lucrative and their trust accounts safe -- but they weren't.
The civil complaint was filed by a half-dozen investors seeking to recover more than $100 million from Rothstein, Toronto Dominion Bank and others. They first discovered that the Fort Lauderdale lawyer had cleaned out their bank accounts in late October, when Rothstein fled to Morocco. He returned to Fort Lauderdale in early November to face a federal investigation into his investment scheme, which the FBI said might top $1 billion.
Rothstein, 47, has not been charged with a crime. Through his attorney, Rothstein declined comment on the suit.
The 147-page suit says Rothstein schemed with three others at his firm: general counsel David Boden, chief operating officer Debra Villegas, and corporate officer Andrew Barnett.
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