Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Friday, July 3, 2015

APPEALS COURT AFFIRMS CONVICTION AND SENTENCE OF PONZI SCHEME LAWYER


The Federal Courts continue to mete out strict punishment to lawyers who, even on the fringes, facilitate Ponzi schemes.The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction, and five-year sentence, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida attorney Christina Kitterman, an attorney in billion dollar Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein's law firm. Kitterman impersonated a Florida bar official, in a telephone conference with Ponzi victims, to falsely assure them that a non-existent Bar matter was interfering with their payments.

Kitterman's attorneys had asserted that the evidence was insufficient to sustain conviction. The appeals court held that " there was sufficient evidence that a jury could believe that Kitterman intended to cause the deprivation of something of value by ... deceit.*" it also dismissed her allegations that certain evidence was inadmissible and prejudicial, and found that the 60-month sentence was substantively reasonable.

The opinion sends a clear message to the legal community; if you assist a client, who is later determined to have perpetrated a Ponzi scheme, you will face the consequences. Florida Federal Courts have also meted out similar punishement to lawyers who represented mega-Ponzi schemer Joel Steinger, whose Mutual Benefits Corp. Ponzi rocked the life settlement industry.
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*United States v. Kitterman,  Case no.: 14-12387 (11th Cir. 2015) at 5.

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