Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein has accused one of his closest former law partners, Christina Kitterman, of impersonating a Florida Bar official to help him further his billion-dollar fraud.
Rothstein has told federal authorities that Kitterman posed as Adria Quintela, the real-life head of the Bar Grievance committee, on the phone with Ponzi investors, according to several sources and confirmed by Kitterman's attorney, Jeff Weiner.
When we caught up with Kitterman at her office in Pompano Beach, she refused to comment and demanded that a news photographer and I leave (see video). Weiner didn't deny that Kitterman was involved, withholding comment on the case and focusing his attention on Rothstein, saying the disarred lawyer, who has been sentenced to fifty years in prison, victimized not only investors, but also members of his law firm.
The Florida Bar "story," as Rothstein called it, marks one of the more desperate chapters in his criminal enterprise. His scheme was beginning to fall apart in April 2009 and he needed to find a way to explain missed payments to investors.
Rothstein testified in his Miami deposition that he told investors that plaintiffs in the bogus settlement cases he was peddling had filed grievances with the Florida Bar because their settlements weren't being paid -- and he blamed it on the investors themselves, saying they weren't funding at levels promised.
Rothstein used the story not only as an excuse but also to put pressure on the hedge funds to put more money into the scheme.
"We were using the grievance committee story to try to force our funders, at this point in time the hedge funds, to fund faster and in greater numbers," Rothstein testified. It ran the gamut from grievances to potential suspensions freezing trust accounts, making my life a nightmare, whatever we needed to create some sort of fire, some impetus to get funds out of them."
To convince them, Rothstein testified that he had a law firm employee impersonate Bar official Quintela on the phone. Rothstein knew something about the Bar's grievance committee -- as a lawyer, he sat on it.
In his deposition Rothstein identified a paralegal as having made the phone call, but has since told authorities that it was actually Kitterman who posed as Quintela, according to numerous sources and confirmed by attorney Weiner.
"I had given her a script to refer to about what was going on, what questions she should answer," Rothstein testified. "I told her specifically that when they ask for something that she couldn't think up an answer for to just say that pursuant to the Bar rules she couldn't answer that type of question, that was her escape vow, so to speak."
Ironically, Kitterman was quickly cleared of wrongdoing by the Florida Bar after Rothstein's Ponzi scheme imploded in October 2009. Weiner wouldn't say whether he or his client has had contact with federal prosecutors, who are continuing a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the Rothstein fraud.