After more than six hours of compelling testimony by convicted and jailed Ponzi swindler Scott Rothstein, a West Palm Beach, Florida federal jury took one third the time of his testimony to find his associate Christina Kitterman, 39, guilty of all three counts of wire fraud brought against her by the U.S. Attorney.
Kitterman, of Deerfield Beach, also an attorney, as was Rothstein, still operates her practice in Boca Raton. She was arrested in August of last year along with Douglas L. Bates, 54, of Parkland, another attorney that had dealings with Rothstein's firm.
At her arraignment in September, Kitterman pleaded not guilty to the three counts in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge James M. Hopkins. Each of the charges carried a maximum of twenty-years in prison and fines of $250,000.00.
Based on the indictment, in April 2009, Kitterman read a pre-scripted document in the course of a telephone conference with victims of Rothstein's scam while she was an employee of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler P.A. (RRA) a law firm with offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Florida, New York and Caracas, Venezuela. During its heyday, RRA boasted a staff of 150 and 70 lawyers in their employ.
In the course of the conversation, she informed the edgy individuals that a number of the company's bank accounts had been frozen because Rothstein faced disciplinary action pending a Bar investigation of his firm. She did so under the ruse that she was the head of the Florida Bar's Fort Lauderdale office, creating the falsehood in explanation of why certain payments due to the listening investors had not yet been paid out.
According to her testimony, Kitterman indicated that she was under the impression that she was speaking with individuals who had refused to make payments of settlements. She also later testified that she was a victim of sexual harassment by Rothstein on several occasions during her employment with his firm.
Rothstein had a dissimilar story to articulate.
During court testimony he contradicted her suggestion by alleging that he had a consensual sexual relationship with her while she was in his employ. Further, while being questioned, Rothstein stated that he wished he didn't have to testify about Ms. Kitterman and said "I am not happy about being here," adding that he considered her a "close, trusted friend," apparently in addition to the indicated sexual exploits. But he accentuated the sexual component by saying "We were two friends who fooled around from time to time," Once at Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale she "pulled me into a bathroom stall to make out with me." He continued by saying that "I loved her and cared about her and I believe she loved and cared about me."
But additional testimony provided by Rothstein which was heard by the jury was more incriminatory.
Dressed casually and much slimmer than his last public appearance, Rothstein delivered a rambling soliloquy of the Ponzi scheme he engineered and organized while on the witness stand. He voiced to a packed courtroom about his connections with corrupt law enforcement officials and politicians, sexual escapades including stories about cheating on his wife, and involvement with the Mafia.
Called as a witness for the defense in this case, his testimony apparently only aided the prosecution. The handcuffed clad convict took the witness stand with his customary loose lips recounting stories of his dealings and connections with Ms. Kitterman. Rothstein became well-known for "singing like a canary", implicating everyone from his partners in the scheme as well as bankers lawyers, a company CEO and even an owner of a car dealership during criminal proceedings against him which ultimately led to his conviction of Florida's largest Ponzi scheme and the fourth largest in US history ever to be executed.
In this latest testimony Rothstein portrayed Kitterman as a "team player" who had no reservations about assisting him with the offenses she'd been charged with. He went on to accuse her of committing a number of additional crimes. "I did for her, she did for me," he explained. He further stated that their association was one of each having the other's back and doing whatever needed to be done whether it was above-board or not. He further stated "I did not tell her we were going to cheat anyone, I just told her to lie."
Kitterman's defense attorney angrily charged that Rothstein was lying in a selfish attempt to get his sentenced reduced by cooperating with the prosecution in his client's case.
But Rothstein contended that it would be "self-destructive" for him to lie about matters that could easily be disproved by documented evidence. He also noted that he believed doing so would extinguish any remaining hope he has of ever being freed from prison.
The now jailed, disgraced, and disbarred attorney is in the midst of serving a 50-year prison sentence for his conviction of being the mastermind of the $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. During his own trial, he apologized to all that were hurt by his actions and also implicated many, if not all of his associates that were connected to the scheme. To date, fourteen individuals have been convicted and sent to federal prison for crimes linked to him and Kitterman is the eighteenth individual who's faced charges associated to his exploits.
U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley didn't fix a sentencing date based on reasoning that he would review trial transcripts to first determine if Kitterman perjured herself during her testimony. That possibility, if deemed to be valid by the judge could have weight on the overall span of her sentence.