Kenneth Rossman, the accountant sidekick in a $6.3 million fraud led by self-styled "Annuity King" Philip Roy Wasserman, cited a bipolar disorder in arguing for a lighter sentence.
In a presentencing report filed Wednesday in a Tampa, Fla. court, Rossman – represented by federal public defenders – added that he is the "sole caregiver" of two special-needs sons.
Rossman is due to be sentenced on Wednesday. In 2021, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and one count of "aiding and assisting the preparation and filing of fraud and false tax returns" in a plea deal with the federal government.
The two counts generally result in years behind bars. In the presentencing report, Rossman asked for probation, home detention and a restitution order, jointly and severally, for $5.99 million.
Meanwhile, Wasserman continues to appeal his conviction. Rossman's bipolar claim undercuts his testimony that Wasserman masterminded the fraud scheme, Wasserman said via email.
"More grounds for a new trial or judgment of acquittal," Wasserman wrote. "Unbelievable that this comes out now he'll be sentenced next Wednesday. This helps me so much."
In an August 2021 motion, Wasserman's attorneys asked the court to compel Rossman to take a psychiatric exam before he testified. A judge rejected that motion.
Wasserman was convicted May 15 on nine felony counts. The three most serious – wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud – all carry maximum sentences of 20 years. Wasserman is schedule for sentencing Sept. 6, although he has appeal motions pending. He faces another trial on tax-evasion charges.
The government claims Wasserman, 66, and Rossman, 65, lied and concealed information to convince elderly victim-investors to put their money into Wasserman’s life insurance venture called, “FastLife.”
Bipolar disorder being treated
In a 27-page report, Rossman's attorneys describe a tragic life that began with abusive, absent parents. At age 10, Rossman was watching his 5-year-old brother when a drunk driver struck the younger boy, leaving permanent damage.
"Mr. Rossman has always carried a great deal of guilt related to this tragic accident, blaming himself for failing to properly protect his younger brother," the report states.
After graduating Florida State University with a degree in accounting, Rossman spent his working life as an accountant, often preparing tax returns for individuals, businesses, and corporations, the report reads.
During the time Rossman joined Wasserman at FastLife – from August 2016 to January 2019 – he was "struggling with an untreated bipolar condition that caused him to become involved with high-risk behavior," the report states.
Rossman was troubled by unpaid tax debts, foreclosure proceedings, marital strife and was victimized in two financial scams, the report said. Rossman and his late ex-wife have two sons, ages 13 and 20. Both suffer from autism and other medical conditions, the report states.
Rossman's ex-wife died of cancer in April 2021, leaving him as the sole caregiver for their sons, the report said.
While on pretrial release, Rossman worked at Wendy's from October 2021 to January 2023, earning $13, the report said. He is presently working in sales for a lawn services company in Bradenton, Fla.
Rossman would be facing a sentencing range of 57 to 71 months, the report states. By providing "substantial assistance" to a government case, Rossman faces a range of 30 to 37 months. In asking for no jail time, Rossman's attorneys say he is being treated for bipolar disorder.
"While Mr. Rossman’s undiagnosed and untreated mental health disorder does not excuse his criminal conduct, it mitigates it," the report reads. "Since being placed on pretrial supervision, Mr. Rossman has learned how to appropriately manage his mental health through counseling and medication. The treatment has enhanced Mr. Rossman’s life by eliminating the racing thoughts and ending his high-risk behavior and poor decision-making, making him a better employee, better father, and better person."
Senior Editor John Hilton covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.