Thursday, August 28, 2008

Judge Vacates Plea Deals - Government Now 0-15 Against Specialist Traders

The WSJ Law Blog has reported that the USAO for the S.D.N.Y is having a tough time with their prosecutions of specialist traders. Specialist firms are elite trading operations in charge of specific stocks on the floor of the NYSE. Specialist traders working for such firms are responsible for matching buyers and sellers and providing liquidity by buying or selling shares when there is an imbalance.

As the summer of vindication winds down (well, at least the summer part), three more so-called specialist traders might get to enjoy the final days. Last month, the Second Circuit upheld the acquittal of David Finnerty, a former specialist trader at Fleet Specialist, who’d been accused of making improper trades for his firm’s account at the NYSE, and reversed the convictions of two more specialists who used to work at Van der Moolen Specialists.

Now, DJ Newswire’s Chad Bray reports, U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein in Manhattan has vacated the guilty pleas (to securities fraud) of two other Van der Moolen specialist traders — Patrick McGagh and Joseph Bongiorno — and dropped the criminal case against a former LaBranche & Co. trader, Freddy DeBoer. This final blow to SDNY prosecutors means their office goes 0-15 on specialist prosecutions. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which brought the cases, declined to comment Monday. . .

Marjorie J. Peerce, the lawyer for both McGagh and DeBoer, said of McGagh: “He served about a year in jail for something which has now been determined is not a crime. It’s been a long and difficult ordeal. He looks forward to continuing his life as a husband, father, son, brother and productive businessman.”

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