Attorney Pleads Guilty in Connection with Ponzi Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 20, 2014|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Douglas L. Bates, 55, of Parkland, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach to a superseding information charging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. At sentencing, Bates faces up to five years in prison.
The acts set forth in the charging document were all in furtherance of a Ponzi scheme involving the sale of purported confidential settlement agreements in sexual harassment and/or whistleblower cases which were purportedly handled by attorneys at the former Ft. Lauderdale law firm of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler, P.A. (RRA).
According to the factual stipulation filed in support of the guilty plea, while Bates was a partner in the Law Offices of Koppel and Bates located at 817 South University Drive, Suite 100, Plantation, Florida, he assisted Scott W. Rothstein in defrauding certain clients of RRA by drafting false and fraudulent opinion letters claiming to represent an investment group which had a business plan to invest in the confidential settlements which formed the basis for the Ponzi scheme when, in fact, he did not, and claiming that he represented a plaintiff who had entered into one of the confidential settlement agreements when, in fact, he did not. The superseding information further alleges that Bates assisted Rothstein by arranging to have representatives of an investment group falsely informed that numerous legal cases were referred by Koppel & Bates to RRA when, in fact, they were not.
Sentencing for Bates is scheduled for May 1, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. in West Palm Beach before U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “It is unconscionable and unacceptable when attorneys violate the oath of office they swear to uphold. Bates, an attorney, violated the oath of office he swore to uphold by participating in the furtherance of Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme. As I have previously stated, the tentacles of Rothstein’s billion-dollar Ponzi scheme reached far and wide. One by one, Rothstein’s criminal associates are being held accountable for their crimes. Today, Bates’ criminal actions make him the sixth attorney—and the 16th accomplice—to be held accountable.”
José A. Gonzalez stated, “Today’s guilty plea should send a message to those who violate their ethical obligations by participating in a massive fraud: No matter who you are or the fraudulent means employed, you will be held accountable for your actions. This investigation is not over. Together with our law enforcement partners we will continue to aggressively pursue those who assisted Rothstein in perpetrating this complex financial fraud.”
“Scott Rothstein needed accomplices who were willing to gamble away their ethical obligations in exchange for the promise of financial gain,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “Douglas Bates took that gamble and lost. Regardless of one’s role, the FBI and its partners are committed to investigate those who swindle investors.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of IRS-CI and FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz, Jeffrey N. Kaplan, and Evelyn B. Sheehan.