A former professional stock car racer-turned-businessman will be making a pit stop in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom on Friday over allegations he stole millions from major delivery companies by pretending to work for Target and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Rogerio "Roger" Scotton, 42, of Boca Raton, is facing 26 counts of mail fraud and faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison for each of the counts. He's been incarcerated since his indictment in March 2012.
According to a federal indictment, from 2007 until his arrest last year, Scotton, a Brazilian national, offered electronic merchandise through his retail websites called Brazil Express Import and Export and Sky Air Express. On the websites, Scotton offered to ship the merchandise to Brazil and elsewhere at discounted shipping rates. The sites are no longer operational.
The reason he was able to offer such cut-rate shipping prices was because he set up phony accounts with UPS and FedEx while pretending to be a representative for Target, Apple Computers and Wal-Mart, investigators charged.
Scotton shipped the packages with a return address pointing to various mailbox rental facilities in Boca Raton and Coral Springs, the indictment said.
The indictment doesn't indicate how many packages were ultimately shipped, but states "the shipping companies suffered multimillion dollar losses because of Scotton's activities."
During a phone call to the Sun Sentinel on Monday, Scotton's mother, Marina Colon, said her son was being framed by another man in Brazil.
"This has been a complete injustice," the mother said in Portuguese from her Broward home.
Since his indictment, Scotton's trial has been postponed several times because of changes in legal representation. One lawyer left the case saying Scotton didn't have any funds to pay for his defense.
Scotton successfully petitioned to have one court-appointed lawyer taken off his case in November. His next court-appointed lawyer quit in December saying that Scotton was "hostile" toward him and that he walked out of attorney-client meetings on two occasions.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum appointed Miami-based lawyer Stuart Adelstein to represent Scotton. Adelstein could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
According to his racing profile, Scotton had a long career in Brazil that included several championships during the early 2000s. In 2003, he was involved in a serious motorcycle crash in Boca Raton, but returned later that year to participate in four races in the former NASCAR Busch Series. He also raced in three American Le Mans Series events, according to his online biography.
Scotton is scheduled to appear in court on Friday for a status hearing and has a tentative trial date later this month.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.