Woman tells story of horrific false arrest for first time

Cops arrested Marcy Romeo Flaster on orders of Scott Rothstein

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Marcy Romeo Flaster had just dropped her son off at summer school and was heading home on Sunrise Boulevard when she heard the siren chirp behind her. It was an unmarked Dodge Charger pulling her over and she knew what it was about -- her tag had recently expired.

But Broward County Sheriff's Office Detective Jeff Poole didn't act like it was a small matter. She said he was gruff and intimidating from the start. She gave him her license and insurance card. He went back to his car and came back without either.

"He said to me, 'Ms. Flaster, do you have any weapons in your car?'" said Flaster. "I seriously thought he was joking, it was such a bizarre question."

It was just beginning a nightmare that she said still won't end; one where she was falsely arrested at the behest of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein as a favor for a co-conspirator in his fraud, Doug Bates, her ex-husband with whom she said she had a terrible, strained relationship that included a recent custody fight over their 16-year-old son.

Rothstein had Lt. David Benjamin, executive assistant to then-Sheriff Al Lamberti, on his payroll and it was allegedly Benjamin who ordered Poole to make the bogus arrest on Flaster that day. But she had no way to know that when she allowed Poole to search her car.

Flaster said he went for her purse and pulled out a prescription bottle with no label on it. She told him it was medicine for her autistic son and that her ex-husband had given her the bottle with the label removed.

Poole called Bates on the phone and came back and told her she was in trouble.

"Your ex-husband said he gave you the medicine in three correctly labeled bottles," she said Poole told her.

"I have to say, I almost fainted. I said, 'Well, he's lying,'" Flaster said.

She said she then she saw a tow truck.

"Poole came over and I looked him in the eye and I said, 'Are you arresting me?' And he said, 'Yes,'" Flaster said.

Charged with possession of controlled substances, Flaster was taken to a BSO substation, where she said she was put alone in a windowless room. A rap came on the door and she heard a male voice tell her to turn around and put her hands on the wall.

She said two men then walked in and when she tried to turn around, she was ordered to keep her face to the wall. She never saw their faces, but saw that one was wearing khaki shorts and the other khaki pants. She noted that Poole, who was in plain clothes, was wearing khaki shorts that day, but she said she has no way to know if he was one of the men.

"I was told to remove my clothing," said Flaster as she cried.

She said she tried to stall them, telling them it was wrong and they couldn't get away with it. She said one of them responded by saying, "That's funny, because we're the ones with guns."

"I thought they were going to kill me when they were done raping me," she said.

She took off her clothes because she said she felt she had no choice and complied, as they asked her to bend down, squat and get in other positions. She said they never touched her and before they left she was warned, "If you ever speak of this to anyone, we will find you and we can easily find your daughter."

"I thought I was convulsing," Flaster said. "I was shaking. I just kind of collapsed on the floor shaking."

Flaster was ultimately moved to the Davie substation, where she said she was legally strip-searched by a female deputy. She wasn't released until 4 a.m. after spending about 17 hours in custody.

Her then-husband, Larry Flaster, picked her up, but she said she was too afraid to tell him what had happened. In fact, she never reported it to the police, fearing the men would make good on their threat.

Marcy Flaster said she lived in dread of police, police cars and Dodge Chargers to the point that if she saw one of them on the road it would paralyze her with fear. It wasn't until more than a year later, in October 2010, that law enforcement paid her a surprise visit, but this time it was the FBI and they wanted to know all about her arrest.

Rothstein had reportedly come clean while he was in custody, telling authorities her arrest was a favor for Bates, who was helping him pull off his billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Both Benjamin and Poole were charged this year with violating Flaster's civil rights, and both have pleaded guilty.

Benjamin was sentenced Monday to five years in prison, with Marcy Flaster facing him in court, telling him that she wasn't a "bitch" as he allegedly had called her when he ordered her arrest; that she was a mom, a daughter and a human being.

Poole is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Thursday. It will be the first time since Marcy Flaster's arrest that she will be face-to-face with Poole.

"I was basically kidnapped, held against my will, assaulted sexually, terrorized and freed by the police," she said.

Marcy Flaster said her life changed drastically after the arrest and that she developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. She said it has torn her family apart -- her son Andrew is standing by her but her daughter doesn't speak with her, siding with Bates, who is now serving a five-year sentence of his own for his role in Rothstein's Ponzi scheme.

"I'm in therapy. I'm taking my medicine. I'm working towards coping skills, but I know my children will never be the same," she said. "I know I will never be the same."

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