Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hidden Jewelry

The New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board web page notes a recent consent disbarment of an attorney who was the subject of this Law360 report

Scott Saidel, a Florida attorney who represented the wife of convicted Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein was disbarred in Arizona on Friday, after he pled guilty this winter to charges he helped the wife in a conspiracy to hide more than $1 million in jewelry from investigators.

Saidel consented to the disbarment, and the state bar said it won't take any further disciplinary action against him. However, he has been ordered to pay the State Bar of Arizona $1,200 in costs and expenses.

“I consent to disbarment freely and voluntarily and not under coercion or intimidation,” Saidel said in court documents.

Saidel, who was also admitted to practice in Florida, was suspended from the Florida bar in February and tendered his consent to disbarment before the state Supreme Court in April, according to documents from the Florida Bar. On Friday, Judge Reginald Corlew, a referee in Saidel's disciplinary matter, said Saidel should be found guilty of misconduct and disbarred. 

Rothstein's wife, Kimberly, pled guilty in February to conspiracy charges that she hid more than $1 million in jewelry from U.S. investigators that had been purchased with proceeds from her husband's $1.2 billion scheme.

As part of Scott Rothstein's January 2010 plea agreement, which resulted in a 50-year prison sentence and an order to pay $300 million in restitution, he agreed to forfeit all assets acquired using ill-gotten gains from the Ponzi plot. This included tens of millions of dollars in real estate, vehicles, boats, luxury watches, jewelry and sports memorabilia bought for his wife and himself, according to court documents.

On Nov. 9, 2009, federal agents went to the Rothsteins' home to seize these possessions. Kim Rothstein purportedly helped the agents retrieve all of the cash, luxury watches and jewelry connected to the Ponzi scheme. But before, during and after the agents' visit, she, her friend Stacie Weisman and Saidel took steps to conceal more than $1 million in jewelry, prosecutors said.

The three then conspired to sell some of the hidden jewelry, including a 12.08-carat yellow diamond ring, prosecutors said. Another alleged participant Eddy Marin allegedly helped Weisman sell some of the jewelry, including the ring, to jeweler Patrick Daoud. Saidel hid the proceeds of those sales by depositing the money into his law firm trust account, and then dispersed the money to his and Kim Rothstein's debtors.

As part of the conspiracy, Rothstein, Weisman and Saidel also attempted to tamper with Scott Rothstein's testimony about the whereabouts of the diamond ring that was taken for an adversary case filed by the trustee in the bankruptcy case of Scott Rothstein's law firm.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a criminal information Sept. 6, charging Rothstein, Weisman and Saidel with conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruct justice and tamper with a witness. Marin and Daoud, were charged separately with obstruction of justice and perjury for their roles.

Saidel pled guilty in January and Weisman entered her guilty plea in February, according to court documents.

A spokesman for the State Bar of Arizona declined to comment on Tuesday.

Saidel represented himself.

The case is In the Matter of a Suspended Member of the State Bar of Arizona, Scott F. Saidel, case No. PDJ-2013-9050 in the Supreme Court of Arizona.

(Mike Frisch)


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