Broker charged in pension fund bribery scandal will get his day in court

| May 8, 2020 | Federal Crimes

The judge in the federal trial against a former broker accused of conspiring to bribe an official with the New York Common Retirement Fund with a luxury ski vacation has ruled in the defendant’s favor, finding that questions of fact exist that must be answered at trial.

The defendant worked as a broker at what was then known as Sterne Agee from 2013 to 2015. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, early in 2015, the defendant and his partner at the firm took a director of fixed income and head portfolio strategist for the state pension fund on a ski trip to Utah. The two brokers allegedly spent about $11,000 on the vacation. Afterward, the pension fund official steered business to Sterne Agee.

Knowledge of quid pro quo?

The other broker who helped arrange the ski trip has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud, but the defendant maintains his innocence. He says he went on the vacation because he enjoys skiing, and felt it was part of his job duties to help the other broker develop ties with clients. He denies knowledge of a quid pro quo arrangement with the pension fund official.

The SEC argued that he either knew that the trip was illegal or that he reasonably should have known, and asked the judge overseeing the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to find him guilty by summary judgment without trial. After deliberating on the motion for nearly ten months, the judge ruled against the SEC. He found that a reasonable jury could find that the defendant went on the ski trip for pleasure and did not view bringing along the pension fund executive as improper.

This does not mean that the defendant has won his case. It simply means that there is a question of fact that must be argued at trial, if the SEC pursues the charges and the sides do not work out an out-of-court settlement.

The wisest step after being charged in federal court

Federal charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy require experienced and strong criminal defense representation. Contact a defense attorney who practices in federal court for more information.

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