Moments after Courtroom 23B cleared in Thursday's municipal bond bid-rigging sentencing in New York, the defense attorney for one of the three convicted former banking executives eagerly talked about an appeal.
"We're satisfied there are substantial issues to be addressed upon appeal," Walter Timpone, the lawyer for Dominick Carollo, said in an interview at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse.
On Thursday, Judge Harold Baer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan sentenced Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm for their May 11 conviction of wire fraud and conspiracy in relation to a scheme to defraud muni bond issuers such as cities, towns and counties, and the Internal Revenue Service.
In sentences that all will serve concurrently, not consecutively, Goldberg was sentenced to four years on each of four counts, Grimm and Carollo three years each on three and two counts, respectively.
Goldberg received a $90,000 fine, Grimm and Carollo were fined $50,000 apiece. Baer wants them to pay the fines before starting their prison terms on Nov. 26. In addition, each received two year terms of supervised release upon leaving prison.
The three are former executives of General Electric Co. affiliates whom the government said schemed, from 1999 through 2006 and in unison with brokerage firms CDR Financial Products Inc., Investment Management Advisory Group Inc., and UBS Financial Services, to rig muni deals by providing so-called last looks at competitive bids and collaborating with brokers through back-end swap payments.
The end result, according to the government, was lower interest rates and lost millions for issuers.
In May, a 12-member jury convicted all three after a 20-day trial that included numerous audio tapes of conversations and four days of deliberations.
Timpone, a partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP in Morristown, N.J., said he is confident that the Second Circuit will rule that the appeal has merit, and is not frivolous.
"The Second Circuit's an excellent court. It's one of the best circuits," he said.
Timpone cited statute-of-limitation provisions as the strongest defense point, saying the government overreached when it said fraud continues with every bond interest payment. "We feel very confident," he said.
But Anthony Sabino, a white-collar defense attorney in Mineola, N.Y., said a reversal in the Second Circuit is unlikely.
"I think the sentence will be held up," said Sabino, a St. John's University law professor. "The Second Circuit is inclined to reverse when the sentence is extraordinarily lengthy.
"But the sentences run concurrently, not consecutively. If they had been consecutive, that would have been about anywhere from nine to 16 years for some of these men, not counting time off for good behavior.
"Take Mr. Goldberg. Instead of 16 years, he serves four. Now four years is pretty crappy for Mr. Goldberg, but in the big picture it's not all that bad."
During Thursday's sentencing, defense attorneys and prosecutor Antonia Hill argued whether harsh sentencing serves as a deterrent in white-collar crimes.
Sabino thinks it does.
"Far more important is the deterrent effect," he said. "These guys did wrong, they were caught, convicted, and now go to jail. What's even more important is that anyone tempted to break the law is deterred, knowing punishment will be sure and severe.
"In that regard, I think the judge got it right."