Scott Rothstein (Melanie Bell)
Looks like there won’t be another trial of a Scott Rothstein co-conspirator any time soon.
A week after another lawyer was convicted by a jury of helping Rothstein in his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, Plantation lawyer Douglas L. Bates has told the court he will plead guilty today to a wire fraud conspiracy charge. His trial was scheduled to start next Monday.
Prosecutors charge Bates lied to investors by saying he had referred numerous civil cases to Rothstein’s law firm. His scam involved financing lawsuit settlements, but the lawsuits were in fact fake. Bates’ ruse allowed investors to sink more than $140 million into Rothstein’s scheme in 2009, the year the fraud collapsed prosecutors say.
Bates is also accused of writing a phony opinion letters that Rothstein used to lure investors and helping Rothstein swindle auto magnate Ed Morse.
Bates is scheduled to change his plea before U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks.
The notice of a plea change came a day after prosecutors pared the indictment to just one conspiracy count in a criminal information, an indication a deal had been negotiated.
Boca Raton attorney Christina Kitterman was convicted last week of three wire fraud charges for pretending to be a Florida Bar official to aid Rothstien’s ruse.
She was the first person charged with a Rothstein-related crime to go to trial.
Rothstein was called as a defense witness but implicated her in his scheme. The disbarred Fort Lauderdale law firm chairman is serving a 50-year prison sentence.
A call to Bates’ attorney, Leonard Sands, a partner at Sands & Moskowitz in Miami, was not returned by deadline.
If Bates pleads out as scheduled, six attorneys will have been convicted in the Ponzi scam or related crimes.