South Florida nightclub owner Stephen Caputi was sentenced Wednesday to five years in federal prison for helping Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein lure investors by repeatedly posing as a banker.
Caputi was Rothstein’s partner in the Pembroke Pines nightclub, Café Iguana. Prior to fleeing the country in the fall of 2009, Rothstein wired $1 million to Morocco in Caputi’s name.
He was alleged by prosecutors to have posed as a banker and as a plaintiff in litigation being handled by Rothstein in order to scam investors.
“Caputi, posing as an official from TD Bank, provided investors with fraudulent bank statements that reflected purported balances of trust accounts at TD Bank. In this way, Caputi lulled the investors into believing that the account balances were sufficient to fund their investments,” alleged prosecutors. “On another occasion, Caputi posed as a plaintiff during a meeting with potential investors who had requested to meet with plaintiffs.”
In June, Caputi, 53, of Lauderhill, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“I made some bad choices for the wrong reasons and I understand the consequences of that,” stated Caputi in an apology to the court.
Scott Rothstein was sentenced in June, 2009 to 50 years in prison for using his Fort Lauderdale law firm – Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler – to run a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme that enriched him with fancy homes, yachts, watches and sports cars while allowing him to make sizable contributions to a number of politicians and charities.
Rothstein had faced up to 100 years behind bars after pleading guilty to two counts of fraud and three counts of conspiracy. The sentence imposed by United States District Judge James Cohn was ten years more than prosecutors requested and 20 years longer than the term Rothstein had hoped to receive as a result of his extensive cooperation with federal investigators.