Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

A letter from the parents of Scott Rothstein

in Statewide by

Here’s the text of the letter from Gay and Harvey Rothstein.

Dear Judge Cohn,

I have seldom found it so difficult to begin a letter; but then, I’ve never had reason to write a Federal Judge before; I’ve never had a beloved son in prison before.

You must ask yourself, ‘Who is Scott”? We must try to answer: our first born … our son … the boy we will always love … the fourth generation who would fulfill the dreams of the previous

three, as well as his own … the young man who’s [sic] dream was to take care of the family that had taken such good care of him.

Scott was born into a lower-middle-class family who never had the where-with-all to give him many of the things that came easily to the families of his friends. However, and far more important, he had the good fortune to be born into a warm and caring family; a loving family who have always believed in helping each other, taking care of each other, supporting each other’s endeavors.

Scott was a good student throughout his school career and went from IGC classes (intellectually gifted children) in elementary school to Special Progress classes in Junior High. He joined the Boy Scouts and, from the age of eight, he also attended Hebrew School. As with almost all kids in those days, he would rather have skipped Hebrew School. He was sweet and lovable and just mischievous enough to keep us on our toes.

When he was just three we presented him with a sister, Ronni. It would be a fabrication, a fairy tale, to say that this was his favorite gift. He had every three-year-old’s reaction: give her back. Thank goodness that soon wore off and he became every little girl’s dream of a “big brother.” They had their sibling rivalries and battles, but that right was his and no one else’s. He was, and still is, exceptionally protective of his “little sister.”

For many years we lived directly across the hall from his Grams and Poppy. Scott and Ronni thought that they were the luckiest kids in the world. The key was always available to them and Grams’ and Poppy’s fridge was filled with delightful treats … and, yes, they invited their friends to enjoy in them. Of course they depended on Grams for more than treats. From childhood to adulthood neither Scott nor Ronni were ever too old to tell her their problems or to see advice frm her … and she, at 99, is still not too old to oblige.

At the age of 12 he began studying to be a Bar Mitzvah at Temple Judea, a reformed Synagogue around the corner. It was then, in working with the Cantor, that Scott first came into his own with the discovery that he had an exceptionally beautiful tenor voice. The Cantor asked him to join the choir, and we joined the Temple so that Scott would be allowed to sing from the Bima. (The ritual committee refused to allow it unless we joined). This experience gave him two of the things he loved: Judaism and music. The older he got, the more important both those things became.

In September of 1976, when Scott was 14, we moved to South Florida and he began his four years at Boyd Anderson High School. He was part of Chorus, Chamber Singers and the Barbershop Quartet, all taught by James Long. Kids and parents all adored “Mr Long” and he loved his kids and instilled in them a true appreciation of music and a great camaraderie. A number of Scott’s friends from Chorus have recently written us. One wrote, “I remember Scott as being a sweet, sensitive, gentle guy.” Mr. Long, himself, wrote to us: “My memories of Scott will always be of that incredibly talented, dedicated, and generous young man-musician whom I had the pleasure to know and work with at Boyd Anderson. He truly honored us with his presence”.

Our son was not perfect; he pulled the usual, harmless teenage stunts, but was always found out and was firmly convinced that Mommy had eyes in the back of her head. Whatever the small wrongs he attempted, none were ever mean-spirited or could have been harmful to anyone but himself.

Scott made friends easily; good friends because he knew how to be a good friend. If he had a fault where friends were concerned it was the he didn’t know how to say no. He wanted to do everything for everyone — and be everything to everyone.

The summer that Scott turned 15 we took a trip to New York where a relative asked Scott what he wanted most; Scott replied, “A guitar.” The Choir at Temple Judea, Chorus in High School and guitar lessons … sweet music from a sweet and talented son who wrote songs that brought us to tears … a song to a girlfriend … a song to his Dad … a song to the young child of friends of ours … all as beautiful as the soul they came from.

Practically, Scott wanted to be assured of making a living, and so he chose law over music. He had a talent for it and was brilliant in the courtroom. His career as an attorney is well documented. What the world doesn’t know is how kind he was to his family, his friends, his employees … and there never were strings attached. Many an employee would laud the firm atmosphere … “It feels more like family.” When a young mother and her found themselves homeless for six weeks he gave them the keys of a small house and told them to stay as long as necessary. He would take nothing in return. When a bright young attorney almost destroyed herself and her career due to alcoholism, he saw to it that she got the treatment she needed and put her back to work. When a well known athlete, father of a young child, was murdered, Scott became the nearest thing to a father that child would ever know. Ask the child who is now a young man. His name is Charles Blades.

Scott was determined to take care of his family. His greatest pleasures came from being able to give back to his Grams, his Mom and Dad, his sister and her four children; and his sense of responsibility went beyond immediate family … to extended family and to friends — in so many cases no paying back, but paying forward.

It was unfortunate that he did not know his own daughter until she was nine; that fault was not his … and the story is not mine to tell … but he always took care of her in his own way, keeping up with her progress, putting her in private school, helping her mother to keep a roof over their heads … and, finally, bringing our fifth grandchild into our lives.

Scott’s kindness, his love, was often shown in unusual ways. When Mommy was sad he’d call her into his room, play his guitar and sing softly, lulling her with the sounds she loved best. Later in life he showed his awareness, if she was in a stressful situation, by taking her for a ride on his motorcycle just to get her away for a short time — and it did help!

When his Dad was hospitalized he spent time at his bedside, shaved him, combed his hair; took time from his busy schedule again, when his Dad had breast cancer, to go to doctors with him and, again, spend time at his bedside.

For years, on the Jewish High Holy Days, he went to satellite services with us, held in a club house rather than a fancy Synagogue with an affluent congregation. He knew how important it was for us to have him with us at these times. But his love of Judaism did not begin and end with those services; rather, no matter where he was, his morning and evening prayers came before all else … at home, in his office, in hotel rooms … how many times we have knocked on his door, only to be told, “Shhh, he’s praying.” Maybe that was not traditional, but it was his way of staying close to G-d.

We have tried to give you an accurate picture of Scott as we know him. We can only pray that we have succeeded.

Yours Sincerely,

Gay and Harvey Rothstein

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

Latest from Statewide

Go to Top