Scott Rothstein wrapped up more than 8 1/2 hours on the witness stand Thursday by telling jurors that he is paying for his crimes and that everyone who helped him should own up and do the same.
"You see these?" Rothstein said, rattling his handcuffed wrists in the air in front of him. "I'm in prison for 50 years — I will die there."
In an unusual move, the defense for Christina Kitterman, an attorney who formerly worked for Rothstein, called the convicted Ponzi schemer who has cooperated extensively with federal prosecutors, to testify as a defense witness for Kitterman in her trial on federal wire fraud charges.
"We never called him to prove the truth of anything he said," Kitterman's defense attorney Valentin Rodriguez Jr. said after court Thursday. "The jury needed to know who he was and who he is today."
Who Scott Rothstein is today, beginning the fifth year of the 50-year prison term he is serving, is pretty much the same opportunistic conman that he was when he was running his $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme, Rodriguez suggested.
Dressed in the same blue cotton T-shirt and jeans he wore on the first day of his testimony, Rothstein also sported what looked like a cheap black wristwatch — a sharp contrast to his days of collecting designer watches, some of which cost $500,000 each.
Rothstein forcefully defended himself, denying that was unfairly smearing Kitterman in court using the same manipulative and dishonest tactics that earned him the dubious honor of being South Florida's most successful swindler.
He rubbed his face with both hands, occasionally rolled his eyes and repeatedly contradicted Rodriquez, all the time offering up more and more damaging testimony against Kitterman — and others.
Rothstein said he hopes that his cooperation with prosecutors — some of which he said involved working undercover and wearing a wire while dealing with armed criminals — will eventually persuade a federal judge to free him sometime before he dies.
But he insisted it wasn't affecting his honesty. His goals, he said, were to return the money he stole from "innocent victims" and to try to make the people who were involved in related crimes take responsibility for what he says they did.
"That's the message, that's the takeaway of all this," Rothstein said.
Rothstein was called out of turn because of the security concerns and costs of bringing him to South Florida to testify.
"She had been in meetings where we were discussing illegal activity," Rothstein said, going on to explain why he chose Kitterman and sent her emails that he said clearly indicated he was involved in criminal acts.
"I would never have sent this [email] to someone who was straight-laced and not in the game with me," Rothstein said.
Rothstein said he knew Kitterman could be trusted to commit crimes for him because they routinely "partied" and hung out together at what he called "Thursday night council" with Mafia members and associates at Runway 84, a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.
Rothstein carefully avoided giving any identifying details about the undisclosed prison location where he is in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons witness protection scheme for inmates.
He said only that he is "cut off from the rest of the world" and "I don't go running around anywhere as you can see from these handcuffs," in response to questions.
After he stepped down from the witness stand, prosecutors Lawrence LaVecchio and Paul Schwartz called a few more witnesses before resting their side of the case late Thursday.
The trial is scheduled to resume Monday when, Rodriguez said, Kitterman "is 99 percent sure she is testifying" in her defense.
Kitterman has pleaded not guilty to three wire fraud charges, each of which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison.