William Corte, pictured at left with attorney Alvin Entin, was a just tech guy at a law firm.
With the punch of some computer keys, he became a small but crucial part of one of the largest frauds ever committed in South Florida.
Corte, 38, was a computer expert at the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm, working for head IT guy Curtis Renie. In early 2009, Scott Rothstein came to Corte and Renie, also 38, and asked them to complete an unusual task: Make an exact copy of the official TD Bank site. For their work Rothstein offered each man a bonus of $5,000, according to court documents.
Both Corte and Renie, who are being charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, said yes to the unusual — and obviously shady — job.
“He knew something was wrong,” Entin told me. “But he didn’t know the purpose of it. … They were told if they wouldn’t do it, he would get someone from outside [the RRA firm] to do it.”
But it wasn’t just creating the fake website that Rothstein wanted Renie and Corte to do — he also asked them to create fake individual trust accounts.
But there were, of course, glitches. The real TD site had a stock ticker, but it didn’t work on the fake site. The address bar in the web browser had a Rothstein-related file name, and the accounts? Well they didn’t work when the preordained password was typed in, the feds say.
So Rothstein had the pair fix the site. Corte adjusted the site so that any password punched in would give someone access to the accounts. Renie manually updated the stock ticker to make it appear that it was live. And Corte simply eliminated the problematic address bar.
Up until the Ponzi scheme imploded in October 2009, the pair would modify the trust accounts to show whatever figures Rothstein demanded. They even included incoming and outgoing wire transfers — all of them of course fabricated.
And towards the end, they modified the fake bank website to indicate that Rothstein held between $300 million and $1.1 billion in the account. That bit of fraud helped Rothstein raise another $35 million for the scheme, the feds allege.
When Rothstein fled the country, Renie and Corte tried to hide their tracks, according to court documents. Renie deleted the fake webpage from the RRA server and deleted all emails he had regarding the site. Both Renie and Corte also uninstalled the Dreamweaver computer program they used to help create the site.
But as they should have known, there were electronic footprints left behind — and enough evidence to force them to come to the federal table and cooperate.