FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Below is a written request from Ponzi wife Kimberly Rothstein's lawyers asking the federal court to give her a break on prison time when she is sentenced Tuesday on a fraud case in which she's accused of hiding more than $1 million in jewelry from the ill-begotten fortune of her now-imprisoned husband Scott Rothstein. In it, her lawyers say Kimberly has finally filed for divorce from Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison in an undisclosed location.
In it, Rothstein's attorneys write that she was sexually molested by a family friend at the age of 14, that her first serious boyfriend committed suicide by shooting himself in the head and that she "found his blood-drenched body," and her "fairy tale life" life with Scott Rothstein that ended in emotional physical abuse.
Scott Rothstein demanded total control over her and her behavior. She was not allowed to leave the house after 6:00 PM and was forced to leave the house only accompanied by her body guard. Initially hired to keep tabs on her, he quickly became one of her only friends. She did not have access to Scott's finances or even knowledge of his financial activities. Once again, failure to meet Scott's emotional needs resulted in threats of violence and abuse. Her marriage was intense and anxiety ridden. Kim constantly caught her husband sending inappropriate texts to other women. When confronted, he physically and verbally abused her. Their tumultuous relationship was many times a public affair. At one public function, two months prior to Scott's arrest, Kim became disturbed when Scott started flirting with a waitress. She walked out of the dinner party, disgusted and embarrassed. Scott followed her outside and yelled "you can't walk away from me, Kimmy. I'm the President of f---ing Florida and I'll say when you can come and go!"
The report also says her father, Bill Wendell, pushed her to become a karate champion when she was young and abused her along the way.
"She recalls being physically abused, including being tied to a chair with her mouth taped shut and beaten," it says.
Wendell offered no comment Monday.
Rothstein admits taking the more than $1 million worth of jewelry but claimed it was Scott's idea.
"She went right along with what Scott asked her to do, which was to hide it and then lie about it and deceive the bankruptcy trustee," said Alvin Entin, who's representing Stacie Weissman.
Weissman will also be sentenced Tuesday.
The report also reveals that Kim Rothstein finally filed for divorce from her husband last week.
Read the full text below:
Through this writing we do not seek to minimize Kim's behavior in the offense conduct, but consistent with her history and mental health evaluation, to give this Court an understanding of the impetus of the behavior – or the original seed – and how her personal history and background resulted in her standing before this Court.
Kim is fully responsible for her behavior. However, it was her husband, Scott Rothstein who originally requested that she take some family heirlooms, watches and other items of value as insurance. He knew the avalanche of litigation that would be taking place over the next few years. Scott also recommended that Kim turn these items over to someone whom she trusted to sell them. Remarkably, within a few days, Stacie Weismann contacted Kim and asked whether there is anything that she could "hold" for her. Kim took a large number of very expensive items to sell. Through the use of coded letters, Scott followed the progress of not only the sale of the items, but also Kim's attempts to seek their return. Scott and Kim discussed getting the jewelry back so that it could be returned to the United States Government thereby allowing Kim to "come clean". Through the same coded process, Scott and Kim discussed how to pressure Stacie to return the jewelry. Stacie remained non-compliant.
Kim's initial involvement in this offense behavior resulted in at least a temporary easing of her fear and anxiety that she would be left without housing (abandoned) or without any assets or money to support herself. Unfortunately, she did not consider the serious illegality of what she was doing or the consequences to herself and others. Her conduct has not only impacted her life, but resulted in the incarceration and disbarment of a friend, Scott Saidel. Of all the defendant's in this case and without minimizing the effect on the other defendant's lives or the victims of Scott's Rothstein initial Ponzi scheme, she is most sorrowful over the damage this case caused Scott Saidel.
C. Personal History and Characteristics
Walter Cronkite said "When seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story". A review of local media accounts shows Kim to be a greedy, careless, and affected beneficiary of the manipulation and exploits of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein. In fact, Kim, a country tomboy at heart, while taking responsibility for her actions, is, like so many others, is the victim of childhood emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
On April 30, 1974 Kimberly Wendell Rothstein was born to William Wendell and Cheryl Shaffer.
As an only child, she was raised in Davie, Florida, which during her formative years was known for horse farms and swimming holes. During her childhood, Kim's parents owned and operated a martial arts studio where both were employed as instructors. Her father, William, was a master in Nisei Goju.ii She competed in karate virtually every weekend for six years. She competed and won karate competitions at; U.S. Open Nationals, USKA Grande Nationals, Long Beach Nationals, Long Beach California, The California International Open, Battle of Atlanta Grand Nationals, and the Florida Grand Nationals.
While Kim was successful in her martial arts endeavors they were also a curse. Kim's childhood memories are burdened with her father transposing his martial arts discipline onto his child rearing. Specifically, Kim's father expected much from her and treated her poorly when she did not perform well. The punishment for failure was swift and violent. She recalls being physically abused including being tied to a chair with her mouth taped shut and beaten. Her mother, a self-described hippie, ultimately left her father for another man and they were divorced in 1984 when Kim was approximately 10 years old.
At the age of 10 years old, she was diagnosed with a brain AVM. (Arterio-Venous Malformation) This is an abnormal collection of blood vessels in the brain. The AVM prevented her from ever again competing in karate competitions. Her father's dream of her competing in the Olympics was shattered and that led to their further estrangement.
Following the divorce of her parents, Kim vacillated between both parents pursuant to shared custody. While living with her father, he moved his new girlfriend into the home and gave her room to his girlfriend's four children. Around the age of 14 years, she was molested by a family friend. She disclosed this to her father, who did not believe her and no action was taken against the perpetrator or to protect Kim.
At the age of 15, she moved out of both parents' residences as her mother had moved into a one bedroom apartment with her new husband and Kim's father was committed to a new family, leaving no space for Kim. She lived with a boyfriend's family. Her parents no longer participated in her life.
Despite the difficulties she had experienced, Kim continued to persevere. Like many abuse victims, she learned survival skills early on in life. Kim graduated from South Plantation High School in 1992 and was ranked in the middle of her class.
At 16 years of age, she dated a boy and started a serious three year relationship. She broke up with him and weeks later he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun. Kim discovered his blood drenched body in his apartment and attempted to clean it up. His parents were in California and did not return to make funeral arrangements. Kim made the funeral arrangements and gave the eulogy. To this day she has nightmares about the discovery of the body.
Thereafter, she attended Broward College in Fort Lauderdale for two years, but had to stop in 1993 due to a brain hemorrhage. (aneurism) The damage was severe and the doctors told her that there was only a ten percent survival rate for this type of aneurism. She underwent Gamma Knife surgery to remove the blood clot from her brain. This was followed by a very lengthy period of convalescence and she was bedridden for two years. The aneurism and resulting surgery resulted in continued memory problems and mild dyslexia. She became severely depressed. Approximately every one to three years, Kim experiences seizures and must periodically have MRIs to follow up. She is prescribed Lamictal for seizures and Imitrex for migraines, from which she continues to suffer. During her recovery from the aneurism, Kim looked inward to her true passion and began studying natural healing while becoming a Reiki Master. Her medical bills were very high and she began waitressing in order to pay bills. Her debt prevented her from returning to college.
Kim's mother opened a New Age Store in Davie, Florida called Earth Wisdom. Kim and her mother operated the store which they both ran successfully for almost five (5) years. The store was voted #1 New Age store in South Florida. It also had the largest Reiki Circle in South Florida, with over 100 people attending every Friday. It appeared as if Kim had found her calling.
The store also offered Kim the comfort and opportunity to maintain a routine for the first time in her life. It allowed her to begin healing her relationship with her mother. Unfortunately and without her knowledge, Kim's mother sold the store. Kim was devastated and this led to her estrangement from her mother for over a year.
Struggling to survive, Kim studied for and received her Real Estate License. It did not produce sufficient income and she returned to waitressing and bartending. This career path took her to Las Vegas where she tended bar at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. During this time, she had another serious, painful relationship, which ultimately failed. Kim then returned to South Florida where she began tending bar at the Blue Martini Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This is an upscale bar that attracts well-heeled professionals.
It was while working at the Blue Martini that Kim was courted by a young, handsome, and seemingly charming lawyer named Scott Rothstein. Three weeks after their first date, Scott Rothstein proposed to Kim. Less than one month later, Scott asked Kim to move in with him. Kim thought she had found her prince charming, someone who would care for her and with whom she could live a fairy tale life. However, it was only a continuation of failed relationships with controlling abusive boyfriends, each time reliving her paternal relationship of abuse. However, in Scott Rothstein, she found the perfect match for her desire to create a fantastic, false world and appearance. Early on, Kim learned to rely upon her looks as a means to cover up what is really a tremendous feeling of being unloved, unworthy and shame. Scott was seeking his "eye candy", someone he could wear on his arm like he wore his Rolexes. She was beautiful, intelligent and most important, someone who would continue to seek his love, thereby allowing him to control her and everything in her life. It was the perfect match of dysfunctional behavior.
On January 26, 2008, Kim and Scott Rothstein were married in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and had their reception at the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach, Florida. The guest list was a who's who of the wealthiest and purportedly most powerful professionals and politicians in the State of Florida. A far cry from the swimming holes of Davie, Florida. The abundance and attention gave her a feeling of self-worth and importance. Today, she understands that these feelings were not real or permanent. They merely allowed her to deny and avoid her true feelings of shame and not being worthy of true love or real connection.
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Over the next few years she enjoyed what was supposed to be a fairy tale life. She had access to numerous homes, cars and travel. She enjoyed meeting celebrities and politicians. That was unfortunately the face of the marriage and did not reflect the reality of their relationship. In reality she had merely fallen back into another destructive relationship. Scott Rothstein demanded total control over her and her behavior. She was not allowed to leave the house after 6:00 PM and was forced to leave the house only accompanied by her body guard. Initially hired to keep tabs on her, he quickly became one of her only friends. She did not have access to Scott's finances or even knowledge of his financial activities. Once again, failure to meet Scott's emotional needs resulted in threats of violence and abuse. Her marriage was intense and anxiety ridden. Kim constantly caught her husband sending inappropriate texts to other women. When confronted, he physically and verbally abused her. Their tumultuous relationship was many times a public affair. At one public function, two months prior to Scott's arrest, Kim became disturbed when Scott started flirting with a waitress. She walked out of the dinner party, disgusted and embarrassed. Scott followed her outside and yelled "you can't walk away from me, Kimmy. I'm the President of f---ing Florida and I'll say when you can come and go!"
Their relationship continued to deteriorate. At the end of October, 2009, Scott Rothstein traveled to Morocco. Kim had no clue that he was actually fleeing what was the discovery of the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of South Florida. He returned and confessed to her his fraudulent conduct.
In one moment, the life she clung to, the fantasy she lived dissolved. Within weeks, all of the accounts and Kim's credit cards were frozen. All assets were seized by the United States Marshall. She was sued for millions of dollars and a 15 million dollar tax lien was filed against her within a month after,
Not surprisingly, all of their "friends" disappeared. This triggered her fear of abandonment and she felt lost. She had no emotional or financial support and while she was able to live in one of the family rental houses for a short period of time, she was ultimately forced to leave the family home.
Immediately upon Scott's return to the United States, Kim was able to visit with Scott at a secret location. There he suggested removing some of the jewelry as insurance. Unfortunately her survival skills kicked in and instead of taking a moment to contemplate this behavior, she reacted and saw it as her means of survival. Scott promised numerous times that she would be "taken care of", but in the end, she was left with virtually nothing from the Bankruptcy and Forfeiture litigation. She began binge drinking and doing drugs as a means of medicating her feelings.
The downfall of Scott Rothstein was the beginning of the downfall of Kimberly Rothstein. Once her deception was discovered, she immediately began a course of cooperation with the United States. She made numerous recorded phone calls and participated in meetings, resulting in the arrest and conviction of four other defendants in the case. She voluntarily returned the jewelry and other items that had been hidden.
Since then Kim looked for work to support herself. Unfortunately because of her notoriety, she was unable to secure employment until just very recently.
Kim also began seeing an experienced therapist who specializes in family of origin issues and trauma. She now stands before this Court, a little bit closer to the real Kim, stripped of the fantasy of power and wealth – but now much more aware of how these events, her history of abuse and pretending, led her to where she is today.
D. Childhood Abuse and Adult Dysfunction
Upon meeting Kim, we discovered the serious dysfunction that lay underneath the many faces she learned to present to others. We referred her to a therapist for evaluation and treatment. We proffer that she was the victim of repeated physical and emotional abuse by her father. As a young teenager she was sexually molested. At the age of 15 she began drinking and smoking marihuana. She soon discovered that she could use drugs and alcohol to medicate her feelings. His findings are consistent with the trauma caused by child hood abuse. Her PTSD symptoms include dissociative states, hyper arousal, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, chronic anxiety and depression. We further proffer that she has a history of isolation and lacks any support group. She seeks out high risk situations and that she has a history of suicidal ideation and urges.
She has an inability to form trusting relationships. She continues to search for love and safety from those who can least offer such comfort. She repeats the same relationship with dominant, controlling and abusive males. She has poor emotional self-regulation and has maladaptive coping mechanism which includes the compulsive use of alcohol, drugs and other destructive behaviors.
We will further expand on this proffer at the time of sentencing.
We have filed letters of support and mitigation. We believe they speak for themselves. The events of Kim's childhood and adult life are not intended to excuse her behavior. The information contained in this memorandum is also not meant as a moral judgment of either Kim or Scott Rothstein. Water rises to its own level and their relationship fit like a glove. Scott Rothstein is not responsible for her involvement in this case. She is accountable for her behavior and fully accepts that responsibility. Through therapy she has now discovered the demons that have haunted her throughout her life. The veil of denial is lifting. She is learning new skills of coping and the pain of childhood is beginning to heal. She is taking whatever actions steps necessary to move forward and is grateful that while she will be going to prison, that she now has the opportunity to move through life with less pain and much more awareness. She is learning to trust – a little at a time. Last week, Kim filed for divorce from Scott Rothstein.
While accountable for her actions, at the same time, we simply cannot ignore the tsunami of events and dysfunction that led her to this moment. Consistent with the concept of parsimony, we request that this Honorable Court sentence her to a sentence that punishes her for her conduct, but only that punishment which is necessary.
We will make a specific sentencing recommendation at the time of sentencing.
DAVID K. TUCKER, P.A.
Attorney for Defendant Kim Rothstein