Quattrone Convictions Reversed

by TChris

After suffering a reversal of accounting firm Arthur Andersen's conviction last year, the government has again been dealt an appellate defeat in a high profile white collar criminal prosecution. The Second Circuit yesterday vacated Frank Quattrone's convictions for obstructing justice and witness tampering. The court concluded that the jury instructions failed to make clear that a directive to destroy records violates the obstructing statute only if the person giving the directive knew that the records in question were being sought by the government. The instruction on witness tampering was similarly flawed.

Although the court was careful not to agree with Quattrone's contention that his trial judge was biased, the Second Circuit ordered the case reassigned, noting diplomatically that the proceedings had "taken a toll on all involved" and that some of the judge's remarks "could be viewed as rising beyond mere impatience or annoyance."

Will the government take Quattrone to trial again? Quattrone's first trial ended with a hung jury; the second trial ended in a reversal. The government hoped to get good press for taking on corporate corruption in high profile cases, but this case has been an embarrassment. It's time for the government to move on.

The Second Circuit's lengthy decision is here (pdf): click "Decisions" and search for 04-5007.

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