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Politics

Did Charlie Crist Sell Judgeships?

February 6, 2014 - 6:00pm

In elaborate testimony Wednesday, Fort Lauderdale Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein told a federal court how he had wielded influence over Charlie Crist while he was governor and used his role as a political appointee to a local judicial nominating commission to improperly ensure that Crist's personal favorites were nominated to the 4th District Court of Appeal and the Broward Circuit Court.

Rothstein said he favored candidates who "were going to favor our law firm."

"My job was to be the governor's voice on the commission," Rothstein told a jammed courtroom. Federal authorities produced Rothstein to testify in the trial of Christina Kitterman, a lawyer in his firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeld and Adler.

"He was a friend and a business associate," Rothstein said of Crist."I was able to convince him to do a lot of things," said Rothstein, now serving a 50-year federal prison sentence for running a$1.4 billion Ponzi scheme. (Because he supplied authorities with information about organized crime figures, according to court records, Rothstein is in a witness protection program within the federal prison system.)

Rothstein attended Crist's wedding and hosted the governor at his luxurious waterfront mansion. Crist attended Rothstein's wedding at the one-time Versace mansion in South Beach.

Incredibly, then Rothstein went on to describe the "quid pro quo" arrangement he had with Crist regarding local judicial appointments, wherein Rothstein said: "For certain [campaign] contributions, people were appointed to the bench" -- he was accusing Crist of a crime.

Moe Sohail, a local cigar and wine merchant and one-time intimate of Rothstein, has told investigators Rothstein bragged about buying the judgeships from Crist. Crist appointed Rothstein to the Judicial Nominating Commission which has the responsibility of delivering the names of up to six finalists to fill courthouse vacancies.

Roger J. Stone Jr., with offices in Florida and Washington, D.C., is a political consultant and lobbyist who specializes in opposition research for the Republican National Committee. He endorsed former Gov. Gary Johnson's presidential campaign in the 2012 Republican primary. This column is exclusive to Sunshine State News.

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