On Friday, in Joseph Collins's second criminal trial over the same charges, the former Mayer Brown partner was found guilty by a jury on seven counts, while being cleared of two counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud. Collins's earlier conviction in 2009 had been dismissed in January by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had remanded the matter for a new trial.
In a rare case of an external lawyer being held accountable for legal work done for a client committing fraud, Collins was found guilty of several counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud. Collins's lawyer told the media that he and his client were "disappointed with the verdict" by the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and intend to appeal.
Collins, 62, who previously served Refco as an outside lawyer, was charged with aiding the executives of the firm to conceal a $2.4 billion fraud.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the verdict, "Over and over and over again, Collins ignored his duties as an officer of the court by actively participating in the crimes of his client - telling blatant lies, falsifying important documents, and concealing others." According to Bharara, Collins had given the legal profession a "black eye."
However, Mayer Brown said in a statement that it was "saddened by the jury's verdict," adding "as for the firm itself, Mayer Brown acted in a professional, competent, and ethical manner in its work on behalf of Refco."
While sentencing is set for March 20, 2013, Collins has the option to appeal. If upheld, the conviction can result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Refco executives who are already serving prison sentences include former CEO Phillip Bennett, and former president Tone Grant.
The case is USA v. Collins, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 07-cr-1170.
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