By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, Nov 16 (Reuters) - A former Mayer Brown partner
conspired with top executives at commodities broker Refco to
hide its true financial condition from investors, a federal jury
found on Friday at the lawyer's second criminal trial on the
The jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan found Joseph
Collins guilty of seven counts, including conspiracy, securities
fraud and wire fraud. He was cleared of two counts of wire fraud
and one count of bank fraud.
"We are disappointed with the verdict and intend to appeal,"
said William Schwartz, Collins's lawyer.
Formerly an outside lawyer for Refco, Collins,62, was
charged with helping the firm's executives conceal a $2.4
billion fraud that caused the broker's 2005 implosion.
The case marks a rare instance in which a corporate lawyer
has been charged for legal work done in connection with a
client's fraud. Last year, a federal judge in Maryland threw out
charges against a GlaxoSmithKline lawyer who was accused of
obstructing a probe into the company's marketing practices.
Collins gave the legal profession a "black eye," Manhattan
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the
"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," Bharara said.
In a statement, Mayer Brown said it was "saddened by the
It said that "as for the firm itself, Mayer Brown acted in a
professional, competent and ethical manner in its work on behalf
Collins, was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to seven years
in prison. But in January, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
tossed the conviction, finding that the judge at the first
trial, Robert Patterson, should have called defense lawyers in
before advising a recalcitrant juror to continue deliberating.
The court remanded the case for a new trial.
Sentencing is set for March 20, 2013. The fraud charges
carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The Refco fraud, which was revealed soon after the company's
August 2005 initial public offering, led to the prosecution of
several Refco executives. Former CEO Phillip Bennett is serving
a 16-year prison sentence and former president Tone Grant is
serving 10 years.
Former chief financial officer Robert Trosten and Santo
Maggio, who ran a unit of Refco, pleaded guilty and agreed to
testify in other trials.
The case is USA v. Collins, U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York, No. 07-cr-1170.
For the U.S.: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry Chernoff,
Edward Imperatore and Michael Levy.
For Collins: Jonathan Bach and William Schwartz of Cooley.
(Additional reporting by Basil Katz)
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