somber Scott Rothstein, shackled at the wrists and ankles while wearing a khaki prison jumpsuit, said in Fort Lauderdale federal court Wednesday morning that he will formally plead guilty later this month to running a $1-billion-plus investment racket that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
U.S. District Judge Judge James Cohn set the accused Ponzi schemer's sentencing for Jan. 27.
``We're finalizing our plea agreement,'' Rothstein's attorney, Marc Nurik, told the judge, without providing details.
Prosecutors didn't comment about the pending plea deal with the once-flamboyant lawyer.
Rothstein, now disbarred, is expected to plead guilty to the five counts of RICO conspiracy, fraud and money laundering that he was originally charged with upon his arrest on Dec. 1, in the biggest investment fraud case in South Florida history. Rothstein, 47, is likely to be sentenced from 30 years to life under federal sentencing guidelines because of his leadership role in the investment scheme, his violation of investors' trust and the sheer magnitude of the money stolen from them.
Rothstein, whose serious demeanor Wednesday contrasted with his upbeat mood at his first court appearance in early December, has been cooperating with authorities as they build cases against members of his inner circle and now-defunct Las Olas Boulevard law firm. His lawyer, however, insists that his client has only provided information to authorities about his investment scam, real estate holdings, business interests and other assets -- not about potential co-conspirators.
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