Scott Rothstein pleads for leniency in 'Sonny Boy' letter

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Opinion Zone,P.J. Gladnick

"Could you just SHUT UP, Bernie?"

That is what the South Florida "Mini Madoff" Ponzi schemer, Scott Rothstein, must be thinking about Bernie Madoff who made this recent comment about the people he bilked as reported by New York Magazine:

"F--- my victims! I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.”

In a case of incredibly poor timing, this must have been especially painful to Rothstein who will be sentenced for his Ponzi crimes by a judge on Wednesday. In fact, Rothstein, also known for his large political contributions to senate candidate Charlie Crist to the tune of at least $84,000, has to be worried that Madoff's unwanted message will completely undermine the leniency letter he wrote to sentencing judge James Cohn. The best way to read Rothstein's incredibly schmaltzy plea for mercy is to read it alongside Al Jolson's equally schmaltzy "Sonny Boy" song. Here are a few excerpts of Rothstein's convenient retroactive regret mixed with the song lyrics in italics:

I do not really possess the words to adequately explain the magnitude of what I have done, why I did it, and the overwhelming remorse and self-loathing I feel about myself and the intense harm and pain I have inflicted upon innocent people who trusted me and loved me only to be deceived by me; my actions can only be described in the most despicable of terms: I committed multiple acts of financial crimes against people that placed their trust in me. All in the name of ego and greed.

I was born June 10, 1962. Three years later my baby sister was born. My mom and dad and sister and I lived in a small apartment in the Bronx in a lower middle class neighborhood, right across the hall from my maternal grandparents. Thorughout my childhood and well beyond, my parents struggled financially. They both held down full time jobs and my sister and I worked as soon as were able. In the early 1970s our neighborhood had taken a turn for the worse and the financial pressure had increased. The only fights I remember my parents having were about money. To protect us and to try to make a better life for us my parents moved us to South Florida in 1976...

Climb up on my knee Sonny Boy
Though you're only three Sonny Boy
You've no way of knowing
There's no way of showing
What you mean to me Sonny Boy.

When there are grey skies,
I don't mind the grey skies.
You make them blue Sonny Boy.
Friends may foresake me.
Let them all foresake me.
I still have you Sonny Boy.


...Money was never the end-all for any of us. What my parents and grandparents lacked in financial resources they more than made up for with love, caring, and compassion. My parents and grandparents taught my sister and me the importance of family, respect for others, and the importance of honesty, education, and hard work, and moreover, the mantra of giving back. We were taught that as little as we had, there were always those less fortunate. And we gave of our time and money, even it meant going without...

You're sent from heaven
And I know your worth.
You made a heaven
For me here on earth.

When I'm old and grey dear
Promise you won't stray dear
For I love you so Sonny Boy.


...I translated those lessons in high school, college and law school and, upon graduation from law school, I continued to have what any objective observer would say was a successful life and career. Looking back, however, lurking just below the surface was a person so fearful of failure and so terrified of ever having to struggle the way his parents did, that it translated into an acute anxiety disorder that was, at times, debilitating, and for which I continue to seek treatment today. Moreover,I realize that it translated into an underlying set of character defects and personality flaws that would ultimately never allow me to accept any type of failure on my part. These traits would lay dormant for many years, held in check buy countervailing principles that were the foundation of my family upbringing, until my ego allowed them to manifest themselves in the form of an individual so narcissistic that I would do anything to avoid any type of chink in my armor; anything that would make me look less than uber-successul and perfect in every detail...

When there are grey skies,
I don't mind grey skies.
You make them blue Sonny Boy.
Friends may foresake me.
Let them all foresake me.
I still have you Sonny Boy.

You're sent from heaven
And I know your worth.
You've made a heaven
For me here on earth.

Rothstein's saccharine plea letter goes on to such a seemingly endless length that it could cause tooth decay just by reading it. He just better hope that the judge won't be aware of Madoff's real sentiments on Wednesday. And Charlie Crist better hope that Rothstein doesn't rat out his friends in a desperate bid for a reduced sentence. 

And the angels grew lonely
Took you because they were lonely
I'm lonely too Sonny Boy.

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Author:

P.J. Gladnick

The Washington Examiner