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Jan 27, 2010 1:29 PM by Associated Press

Florida ex-attorney pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme

A disbarred South Florida attorney has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he ran a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme using phony legal settlements.

Scott Rothstein pleaded guilty Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court to five charges, including racketeering, fraud and money-laundering conspiracy. The 47-year-old faces a maximum of 100 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Rothstein operated the scam from his now-defunct law firm from 2005 to 2009. Dozens of investors have filed lawsuits seeking the return of lost money. Federal agents have seized two dozen pieces of real estate, 20 luxury cars, an 87-foot yacht and other former Rothstein assets.

Authorities say some Rothstein associates may also face charges.

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