Did you hear the news yesterday about two former Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers getting acquitted by a jury following a month-long jury trial in federal court in New York on fraud and conspiracy charges? The two men, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, had been accused by the government of misleading investors, prior to the collapse of the subprime mortgage market last year. But the jury quickly found them not guilty.
In my opinion, this case illustrates my point that I have made earlier in this blog that, as experienced criminal defense attorneys know, the best criminal defense is to admit the act but deny the intent. The case also illustrates the point that, in white collar criminal cases, sometimes federal prosecutors bite off more than they can chew! Apparently the only thing these two men were guilty of was not having a crystal ball to predict the market collapse.
In this case, government prosecutors also apparently inflated the significance of emails between the defendants in which they allegedly expressed more pessimism about the market than in their conversations with investors. The bottom line is that jurors reportedly decided not to blame the unanticipated collapse of the market last year on these two defendants! While we all may be upset about Wall Street greed and the market collapse, it is good to see that fair-minded jurors could avoid creating scapegoats and render a fair verdict in this case.