Scott Rothstein's Story Airs on "True Crime" With Aphrodite Jones Tonight

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Investigation Discovery
Scott Rothstein with Debra Villegas, left, and Melissa Britt Lewis, right, during a 2005 Christmas party for the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm. Lewis was murdered in 2008, and Villegas' estranged husband, Tony, is charged with the crime.

The Investigation Discovery channel is airing a True Crime With Aphrodite Jones show tonight at 10 that delves into the story of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and the murder of his law partner Melissa Britt Lewis. 

aphrodite.jpg
Author Aphrodite Jones outside federal courthouse
​The show focuses on the Lewis murder but packs in the entire tale of Rothstein's crime in an hourlong documentary that includes riveting new video and exclusive interviews former RRA office worker Amy Howard; Lewis' mother, Lisa La Pointe; former homicide prosecutor Howard Scheinberg; former U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sloman; local attorney Tonja Haddad; and Villegas' psychologist, Lori Butts. 

I watched an advance copy of the show (in which I'm interviewed as well), and can tell you it's excellent TV that captures the essence of the Rothstein madness and the sadness of Lewis' terrible death. The show thankfully doesn't try to push a conspiracy theory about the murder, though it notes speculation that it may have been tied to the Ponzi (oddly through me, though I've never subscribed to any notion that anyone but Tony Villegas committed the crime). 

Catch the show if you can. 

-- In the piece yesterday on the late politician-lobbyist Jack Tobin, there are clips about his bribery case. Tobin, who went from being a watch repairman to Florida political powerhouse in a few short years, was acquitted by a jury in 1984 of bribery for allegedly taking $21,000 cash from companies, including Waste Management, for his votes. It's an interesting case, but I believe the fatal flaw was that there was no proof that Tobin took the cash and the entire prosecution rested on the testimony of a former Margate commissioner named Rick Schwartz. 

Inside, read a Miami Herald transcript published at the time of undercover tapes of Tobin speaking with his former boss, Ira Adelberg, a jewelry store owner who was cooperating with authorities in the case. It's classic.  
THE SECRETLY RECORDED TOBIN-ADELBERG TRANSCRIPT

(Jan. 4: For the first time in years, Ira Adelberg, president of Margate Jewelers, calls his old friend and former employee, state Rep. Jack Tobin. Adelberg tells Tobin that federal prosecutors visited his store earlier that day, asking whether Tobin took payoffs as a city commissioner. What should he tell them, Adelberg asks. Unknown to Tobin, he was wearing a hidden microphone and their conversation was being recorded.)

TOBIN: First of all, you just answer any questions they ask you. You don't know nothing.

ADELBERG: Jack, the (expletive) that went on here, for Chrissake.

TOBIN: Well, what went on?

ADELBERG: Money.

TOBIN: Yeah.

ADELBERG: They came in here and gave you money. Don't tell me -- c'mon.

TOBIN: Who came in here to give me money?

ADELBERG: The couple of envelopes that came in the door here.

TOBIN: Those were campaign contributions. Those were all checks that were given to me that were deposited in my account.

ADELBERG: What, I wrote you a check. I gave you a check for $250. I took the cash from you, and I gave you a check for $250.

TOBIN: Who was that $250 from?

ADELBERG: I don't know who the hell it was from. Someone walked in the door, gave me an envelope . . .

TOBIN: Right, but that had nothing to do with Waste Management.

ADELBERG: I don't know what it had to do -- but you said there was too much cash . . .

TOBIN: Right.

ADELBERG: So I gave you a check. So I don't know if they subpoenaed my records or anything.

TOBIN: Well, first of all, as far as . . . you gave me a campaign contribution. That's all they know. You gave me a campaign contribution.

(Jan. 5: Adelberg phones Tobin again, telling him that federal prosecutors plan to subpoena him to testify before a Fort Lauderdale grand jury. Tobin, who appeared before the same grand jury two months earlier, agrees to come to Adelberg's office. About 9 p.m., with his office bugged and a recording device on his body, Adelberg tells Tobin federal prosecutors are ready to break the case.)

ADELBERG: You know, you're sitting here with your (expletive) mouth shut to me. You're not saying nothing, you're not doing nothing with me. I don't know what the (expletive) is going on.

TOBIN: I don't know what you want me to tell you.

ADELBERG: I'm looking to cover my (expletive), Jack. Point blank.

TOBIN: They, they . . .

ADELBERG: If they know about this (expletive) deal over here, man.

TOBIN: I have absolutely no idea. When I went down to talk to these guys, we didn't talk about anything. I didn't talk about anything.

ADELBERG: They know there's a (expletive) payoff, Jack. Point blank.

TOBIN: They might know. I don't know. If they know, they know.

(Later the same evening, Tobin says he wonders what Liederman and Schwartz may have told federal prosecutors. He phones Schwartz from Adelberg's office to set up a meeting that night. The tape contains Tobin's side of the phone conversation with Schwartz.)

TOBIN: Hey, (unintelligible). What's going on? OK, well, there's a lot going on . . . A lot going on . . . Have you been in touch or talked to these guys at all? . . . OK, well they were here for an hour up at the jewelry store, and, uh, I'm over here now talking to Ira . . . Uh, they know a lot of stuff . . . Just what I said . . . Well, I don't think we should talk on the phone . . .

(Jan. 18: Tobin and Adelberg talk inside Margate Jewelers. Adelberg says he believes Tobin, George Liederman and Schwartz each received $5,000 for their votes on the Waste Management contract in 1979, the year Tobin was elected to the City Commission. Schwartz would later tell state prosecutors they each received $3,000 from Waste Management executive Harold Stockett. He, Tobin and Liederman each accepted $5,000 bribes from a bond underwriter and an engineering consultant, sources said.)

ADELBERG: I'd love to know how much you got out of it, though.

TOBIN: Got out of what?

ADELBERG: Out of Waste.

TOBIN: You wouldn't believe it, so there's no sense in . . .

ADELBERG: More than five?

TOBIN: Ira, that number that you got is not tied in with (inaudible).

ADELBERG: More than five grand?

TOBIN: No.

ADELBERG: Less than five grand?

TOBIN: Not even close. It's not even worth talking about.

ADELBERG: Is it more or less than five grand?

TOBIN: Not even close.

ADELBERG: Which way, up or down? Less than five grand?

TOBIN: I don't know what Schwartz or Liederman did. You've got to remember something, I was the new kid on the block.

ADELBERG: I know you were a new kid on the block.

TOBIN: And they had three (expletive) votes before, whether or not I got elected, Waste Management had the contract, because Schwartz was there -- Schwartz was going to be re-elected, there was no question in anybody's mind. Liederman was there, (former Commissioner John) Zerweck was there. The only one was against it was (Commissioner Ed) Donohue. Zerweck voted for them for years. . . . Liederman was in their pocket. Schwartz was in their pocket. Donohue voted against it. Without me, they had the three votes.

ADELBERG: All right, let me ask you, how much do they pay off to, to these guys?

TOBIN: I don't know. I don't know. Because you're telling me figures, you're talking $5,000. You're saying more, less.

ADELBERG: The $5,000 is what Rick (Schwartz) told me. That's what I know.

TOBIN: That he got from Waste Management? From Waste Management, or did he tell you five thousand?

ADELBERG: Waste Management. Five grand is what he got.

TOBIN: God bless him if he got it. I did not get it. I told you that sitting in the fried-chicken place. I did not get it. These guys must have had some (expletive) deal going before I even got elected.

ADELBERG: Well, you told me you got . . .

TOBIN: That I got $5,000?

ADELBERG: No, that you told me you got from Waste Management . . .

TOBIN: Let me tell you something. These guys made deals. I'm telling you. Before I even got there. Because this thing didn't go down for three or four months after I was elected.

ADELBERG: What about the three payments you told me about?

TOBIN: Nothing to do with Waste Management. . . . Don't even talk about it. You don't need to know, because then you get called down and you got to keep yourself clean. It has nothing to do with Waste Management. That's why I'm not worried about going down there because it had nothing to do with Waste Management. If their investigation is about Waste Management, they're not going to get me on nothing. If they're going into other stuff, that's a different story. . . .

(Continuation of same conversation inside Margate Jewelers.)

ADELBERG: There's a lot of (expletive) that can be laid on you, I'm just tellin' ya.

TOBIN: Of course there is. But they got to prove it, Ira. They got to prove it. I mean, I went next door (to a savings and loan) and borrowed $8,000. I was borrowing money from people to make ends meet. That's when I had all those (expletive) problems, with (his daughter) Lauren's flights to Washington and her heart stuff. I'll show 'em bills, and I'll show 'em this stuff. If (lobbyist Jack) Cory put me down on something . . .

ADELBERG: Cory is something else. He's something else, man. Cory is something else. I'm telling you now. They're looking over him very close.

TOBIN: They've been looking over him for the last 12 to 15 years.

ADELBERG: Yeah, but all right, hey, look . . .

TOBIN: I'm just telling you what I know. I'm telling you they brought him before the Grand Jury innumerable times. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm not relishing this whole thing.

(Tobin and Adelberg walk out to the parking lot. Adelberg again says he believes Tobin, Liederman and Schwartz each received $5,000 for their votes on the 1979 Waste Management contract. Schwartz would later tell prosecutors that each man got $3,000 in exchange for voting on the $3.6-million trash- hauling contract, sources said. Schwartz also would testify that he, Tobin and Liederman each took $5,000 from lobbyist Jack Cory for a 1981 engineering consulting contract, sources said.)

ADELBERG: You mean to tell me that Waste Management gave you less than five grand?

TOBIN: Yes, sir. Much less. And these guys, if these guys got five grand each . . . then these guys had a (expletive) deal. That five thousand that Rick (Schwartz) told you had nothing to do with Waste Management.

ADELBERG: That five grand . . .

TOBIN: That was for something else, and that's what Cory was involved in. It had nothing to do with Waste Management, I'm telling you.

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39 comments
criminal attorney norman ok
criminal attorney norman ok

Amazing how simple it can be to communicate with people and have them understand a certain topic, you made my day. 

Brooklyn Bridges
Brooklyn Bridges

 

Aphroditeis amazing at asking and raising questions about crimes that people wereconvicted of.  I know that I can’t stop watchingthe show and almost any re-run that comes on. For some reason, crime shows intrigue me and I’ll watch anything thathas to do with non-fictional cases.  Now,I will never have to worry about missing another episode because of the DISH RemoteAccess app with DISH Network.  The appworks with Sling Technology so I can watch live and pre-recorded content and Idon’t even have to be at home.  It’s compatiblewith Apple and Android Mobile Devices and comes with a free download from theApp Store and Android Market so almost anyone can access it.  I’ve been using the app for quite some timeand I can’t get enough of it and since I work at DISH Network, I’m alwaysrecommending that people check it out and experience a value unseen by anyother provider!

 

*Danielle

B_tan
B_tan

Speaking of Tony, didn't someone (Christy?) say that he was now competent to stand trial? Any updates re: the trial?

unowho
unowho

As I have said many times IMO Tony no question killed Mellisa the only part SR had was he helping in Debras divorce. and employed Mellisa. I also said from what Ive read that Tony might not have planned to kill MBL that he confronted her and his anger got out of control judging by all the thoughtless mistakes he made MBL cell phone tracking internet search on pepper sprayDNA found etc..However this could help Tony if AJ has dug up another theory but I dont think so!!!

unowho
unowho

Oh yes Scottyboy was doing Mellisa, but than again SR was F%#ing everyone !!!

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

I was also privileged to view an advance copy of tonight's program, but due to federal copyright laws, I am only allowed to publish a small portion.

This was the infamous video tour of the Rothstein mansion, graciously offered by Scotty at the height of his popularity and power.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

IrvingFeiner
IrvingFeiner

I thought that SR had a herd of those cute little midget giraffes running around his mansion like the guy on the dish network commercial.

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey the parkland man will be watching for sure,2 more lawyers went off the board 1 died and 1 went to jail looking foward to seeing it.There was a bus load of lawyers went off a bridge the other day and they all died,the only problem was 4 seats were empty.

unowho
unowho

I have come to the conclusion no matter what new tech (DISQUS) we have on this Blog there will always be an inconsiderate uncompassionate POS troll looking to cause havoc in here!!!

Parkland man
Parkland man

Your right as soon as lawyers witch are nothing but scum and they stop stealing from people and company's I will stop,you know look at doctors they can't even get insurance because of these fn lowlife sb lawyers,that's why I hope the gets aids and die.they are the first ones to beg a doctor to save them or there family if there are really sick,and all they do is fucking sue them to death again fuck lawyers in there mothers ass.

unowho
unowho

meant for WTF!!!

Guest
Guest

Does Aphrodite expose the massive campaign fraud that went on with the majority of the attorneys at RRA? Attorneys that have been "cleared" by the Florida Bar. Such BS!!!

Johnny Boy
Johnny Boy

We are waiting for the Sheriff Al Lamberti/Lt. Dave Benjamin/Undersheriff Tom Wheeler crime story to aired.

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

Really is this SI or RC? RD maybe?

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Transcript reads like a Mamet play.

Pulp, if at all possible to post a link to a podcast of the show at some point .... thanks. [No cable.]

WTF
WTF

Who the fuck doesn't have cable. What kind of trailor park loser are you? I assume you are using your neighbor's internet, why not just stick your fat head in the window of their trailor and watch the show Goldiloser...

Guest
Guest

Hey loser...Thats right Not everyone has cable...get your dumb head out of your ass!I dont have Investigative Discovery either. I'm disappointed I'll miss this one.

pinky tuscadero
pinky tuscadero

todd... do you have a hangover from drinking too much last night at bella sera?

BumFarto
BumFarto

I don't have cable. I found it littlle entertainment value and it distracted me from my reading. I once told a high school student that I didn't have cable and the response was, "Oh, s--- Mr. Farto, you can't be sayin' that. They think you be poor."

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Good morning, good for nothing Troll!

Crassness has more impact if you check your spelling first!

Good day to you, asshole.

Joe6
Joe6

Was Jack Tobin a shitbird lawyer? Just curious. Thanks

unowho
unowho

Gee I wonder who that could be???

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

I think SoCalGal um I mean Aphrodite Jones read into the conspiracy theorists too much when she was in here.

I know she's in contact with other members of Pulp Nation, I agree with MC that SoCalGal is AJ. I did just read her BIO where she says she lives in NY and Fl so who knows. the impressive thing... She is 52 years old.

I'll be watching tonight though. It should be good.

anonymous
anonymous

Tony Villegas did not kill Melissa, it simply does not make sense, even for a psychopath, which I don't think Tony was.

Guest
Guest

I think Aphrodite Jones came back on the site to see how the tv show is received. Her new alias is "parkland man".

anonymous
anonymous

Saw the show SoCalGal, and you really shouldn't pretend not to be Aphrodite Jones because we know you are (and we don't need any more mysteries or illusions, we're all seeking honesty and truth here, not more masquerading).

However, regarding the show:Scott Rothstein was quite simply, stupid, and he was used by the ultimate parasite, George Levin.. SR hired damaged goods or people who inferior to him in his mind, thinking they would be grateful to be in his presence. Debra Villegas wasn't an innocent victim, and when she "had the gun", so to speak, she ran roughshod on everybody. She was not gracious. I'm also amazed in that, talking to Melissa's therapist, it was never brought up the Melissa had some serious personality disorders, including demonstratively being paranoid. And you missed a some fundamental clues that would point to why Tony Villegas did not kill Melissa. Over all, I guess I'm disappointed that it appears you bought the very weak LE evidence, and I'm concerned your show did little to give Tony any hope of clearing himself.

I think the "real" evil criminals are still out there.

anonymous
anonymous

Don't forget the suicides of Julie Timmerman and Scandiffio. Rothstein was connected to them, as well.

socalgal
socalgal

Hey Anon,If you want to think socalgal IS AJ, that is fine by me..but hate to have you barking up the wrong tree! Not sure what you mean by "don't' need any more mysteries or illusions-we're all seeking honesty and truth here, not more masquerading" I never alluded to the fact that I was AJ. In fact I repeatedly said that I was not and that is the truth. There are several people on the blog that know my real name and a bit about me-and trust me, it is definitely not as exciting as being AJ. Gotta go watch--it IS after 10 pm on the west coast and the show is starting!

B_tan
B_tan

No no no, SoCalGal is not Aphrodite!! lolI will tell socalgal what you said; she'll be amused that she's not forgotten AND that you think she's Aphrodite. :)

ps. Pulp... kinda cool that fships have emerged through the blog :)

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

I always thought she was writing a book about this... Especially the way she asked questions... Anyways Hi

socalgal
socalgal

Hello my old pulpster friends, my ears were burning. I have not been on here in months ! G3(DF3), Btan is right, I am amused about the AJ comments! I do ask a lot of questions by nature (ask my friends and husband) but no, I am not AJ :) I will be tuning in tonight CA time to catch the show. DF3, when I do come to town, we will have to have a beer with a few mutual friends, so we can meet and dispel the myth. Enjoy your spring weather~ I was there last week and it was great..it is cold here in CA!

unowho
unowho

52 WOW.. Aphrodite: Greek Godess of love beauty and sexuallity not to mention a witty and tenacious sleuth with a wonderfull classy personallity ....Still waiting Dear!!!

unowho
unowho

BTW Dear meaning AJ and might I add two Gold Medals (1st) in one day ...unheard of !!! :)

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