Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI); and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), announce the filing of charges against David Benjamin, 48, of Boca Raton, and Jeff Alan Poole, 47, of Weston, for conspiring to commit crimes in connection with the operation of the former Fort Lauderdale law firm of Rothstein, Rosenfeldt and Adler P.A. (RRA).
In a criminal information filed earlier today, Benjamin was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and to violate civil rights, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. In a separate criminal information also filed today, Poole was charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 241. The charges allege that, during the relevant time period, both defendants were employed by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Benjamin was a lieutenant and served as executive officer to then Sheriff Al Lamberti. Poole was a detective assigned to the Strategic Investigations Division.
The charging documents allege that both defendants agreed to utilize their respective positions within BSO unlawfully to further the interests of RRA, its chairman and CEO Scott W. Rothstein, and other persons associated with Rothstein. Specifically, the charging documents allege that Benjamin received approximately $185,000 in money and other things of value from Rothstein and RRA in return for providing his assistance when needed, including arranging with Poole to arrest the ex-wife of an attorney who was engaged in a child custody dispute with her, arranging to use force and threats of force against the boyfriend of an escort who was threatening to expose the illicit relationship that existed between the escort and one of the partners at RRA, and assisting Rothstein in loading cash and jewelry onto a private airplane that was used by Rothstein to flee to Morocco on October 27, 2009, as the Ponzi scheme being conducted through RRA was beginning to unravel.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “David Benjamin and Jeff Poole used their official positions as law enforcement officers to commit civil rights abuses to further the interests of Scott Rothstein and others associated with Rothstein. When law enforcement officers betray the trust of the people, it strikes at the very core of our democracy. The informations filed today charging Benjamin and Poole should serve as a reminder that no one is above the law. When law enforcement officers violate the public’s trust, they will be held accountable. Benjamin and Poole are the 19th and 20th accomplices, respectively, to be held accountable in Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.”
“When David Benjamin and Jeff Alan Poole began to use their official positions to further the illegal schemes of Rothstein and his cronies, they crossed a very bright line,” said William J. Maddalena, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. “Their criminal misconduct undermined the public’s trust in law enforcement. As such, the FBI will continue to work with our partners to remove those law enforcement officers who violate the law. The FBI, in particular, would like to thank BSO for their close partnership investigating this matter.”
IRS-CI SAC José A. Gonzalez stated, “Law enforcement officers and individuals in positions of our citizens’ trust are held to an even higher standard than the general public. It’s a sad day when a lieutenant and a detective of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office who are sworn to uphold the law, allegedly misuse their positions by engaging in criminal acts. IRS-CI, together with its law enforcement partners, will continue to ensure that no one operates above the law and are held accountable for their actions.”
BSO Sheriff Scott Israel stated, “Every time a law enforcement officer is implicated in a crime, it’s a blow to our profession. This indictment tarnishes the image of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers everywhere. My immediate action after taking office was to suspend Deputy Poole and Lieutenant Benjamin based on an ongoing federal investigation. I applaud the diligence and professionalism displayed by our federal partners, and we will continue working closely with them to ensure justice is served.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and BSO. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Paul F. Schwartz, and Jeffrey N. Kaplan.