Rothstein's aura of wealth, power fed ego and Ponzi scheme

Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein capitalized on an aura of power, money and generosity to feed both his craving for the limelight and his $1 billion-plus Ponzi scheme.

Scott Israel, the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Broward County sheriff last year, won't ever forget his first encounter with lawyer Scott Rothstein, the big-time GOP fundraiser.

``We were at lunch an hour and a half, but he was only at the table 10 minutes,'' said Israel, recalling how Rothstein hopped from table to table at a Galleria Mall restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. ``He always mentioned the governor every third sentence. He said, `Give me a call Monday. I'm going to support you and give you money.'

``When he called me he would say, `Scotty, my boy!' He wanted to sound like I was a friend of his.''

Israel, though not a victim of the lawyer's now-notorious investment scheme, got the full Rothstein treatment -- the carefully cultivated aura of clout, wealth and generosity displayed at a frenetic pace.

Those characteristics enabled Rothstein to win over wealthy investors who gave him $1.2 billion for his purported legal-settlement deals. Their trust and money helped Rothstein, who was raised in a working-class Bronx family, attain a heightened status that fed both his craving for the limelight and his Ponzi scheme, say federal authorities and other observers.Read this story on