July 16, 2004
Tyco's general counsel acquitted
Mark Belnick, the former Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison partner who was Tyco's general counsel during the Dennis Kozlowski scandals, was acquitted yesterday of corporate fraud charges that involved an allegedly unapproved $15 million bonus and $14 million in personal real estate loans.
The article on the acquittal provides the normal exaggerations regarding the impact of the acquittal on prosecutors and defense attorneys, suggesting that it will make the former more cautious in future white collar prosecutions and that it will make the latter bolder in defending hte cases. In reality, the acquittal has very little effect in that regard.
However, the article does provide the following important information about the trial:
Mr. Belnick relied on the advice of the chief financial officer, Mr. Swartz, on the propriety and the disclosure of the relocation loans, Mr. Weingarten [Belnick's defense attorney] told the jury. "There was nothing unusual, extraordinary or improper about seeking advice from that source," he said.
Over nearly a week of testimony, Mr. Belnick essentially stuck to that argument, saying that he had done nothing wrong, had not intended to do anything wrong and had relied on advice from people he had no reason to distrust.
Although the temptation is great not to have a white collar criminal defendant testify during a trial and the decision can always be defended on technical grounds, the bottom line is that jurors want to hear what the white collar defendant has to say regarding the criminal charges. The decision not to testify is not the only reason that Ms. Stewart and Mr. Olis were convicted, but my experience is that the risk of conviction in white collar criminal prosecutions increases substantially if the jurors do not hear directly from the defendant.
Posted by Tom at July 16, 2004 7:43 AM |
The decision not to testify is not the only reason that Ms. Stewart and Mr. Olis were convicted, but my experience is that the risk of conviction in white collar criminal prosecutions increases substantially if the jurors do not hear directly from the defendant.
A criminal trial in which the defendant doesn't tesitfy is a slow guilty plea
Posted by: Moe Levine at July 16, 2004 5:22 PM
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