WASHINGTON — Citing the need to review millions of pieces of evidence, former Bank of America executive Phillip Dennis Murphy, who was indicted in July 2012 for scheming to rig bids for municipal bond investment contracts, has waived his right to a speedy trial and requested a trial date of Feb. 3, 2014.
Lawyers for Murphy, who pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy, need time to review 12 million documents and 560,000 audio files produced during the evidence discovery process, they said in documents filed Feb. 20 with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte.
Documents say prosecutors consented to Murphy’s request to waive his speedy trial rights under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the federal Speedy Trial Act. It does not appear from court records that a judge approved the request, but judges in bid-rigging cases last year approved similar time lines.
Murphy is among 20 individuals and one firm, CDR Financial Products Inc., that have been indicted by federal prosecutors since 2009 on charges related to a wide-ranging scheme to rig muni investment bids. Thirteen of the individuals and the firm pleaded guilty, and six were found guilty by juries last year.
A number of major financial services companies and banks, including Bank of America, also settled charges in 2010 and 2011 with state agencies, state attorneys general and federal agencies.
Bank of America was granted indemnity from criminal charges for cooperating with the Justice Department’s antitrust division and other federal agencies. That indemnity agreement apparently did not extend to Murphy.
Murphy was Bank of America’s managing director of municipal derivatives products until he left in 2002. He then worked for advisory firm Winters & Co., based in Santa Monica, Calif., which was itself the subject of a class-action bid-rigging suit filed by municipalities in 2008.
Federal prosecutors said Murphy’s misconduct occurred between 1998 and 2006, when he conspired with CDR to manipulate bids, increasing the number and profitability of investment agreements awarded to Bank of America. He also conspired to manipulate bank records in order to pay kickbacks to CDR and others, prosecutors allege.
Murphy, whose attorneys did not respond to requests for comment, wrote in a Feb. 20 affidavit that reviewing the evidence will be “an extraordinarily time-consuming process.”
Evidence received by the defense include 585,875 emails, four million Bank of America documents, two million documents from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., two million documents from Wachovia, now Wells Fargo & Co., one and a half million documents from CDR and thousands from other firms, say court papers. Half of the 560,000 audio files were from J.P. Morgan and 119,223 were from Wachovia.
In addition, the defense said prosecutors plan to introduce evidence at trial relating to 45 financial transactions.
“The 45 transactions identified by the government are complex financial transactions that will take my counsel significant time to understand,” Murphy said in his affidavit. “Even after my attorneys take the time to find documents and audio recordings related to the 45 transactions ... analyzing and piecing together all of the emails, deal documents and audio recordings related to a particular deal is a painstaking but necessary process.”
“That’s a monstrous amount of evidence,” said Anthony Sabino, a white-collar defense lawyer at Mineola, N.Y.-based Sabino & Sabino PC., not involved in the case. “There might be two pieces of paper that could put him behind bars. He has to find [them] and see how he will deal with it. That’s why it’s going to take a year.”
Murphy’s attorneys also requested a May 24 deadline to file motions to dismiss the indictment and to request that prosecutors produce a preliminary list of exhibits and witnesses by Sept. 27, as well as a final list by Jan. 3, 2014.
Lawyers noted that last year’s trials against Steven Goldberg, Peter Grimm and Dominick Carollo, former employees at GE Funding Capital Market Services Inc, as well as Peter Ghavami, Michael Welty and Gary Heinz, former bankers at UBS, took place roughly 20 months after the indictments.
Those trials, which ended in guilty verdicts, allowed Murphy’s team to study the prosecution’s strategy, noted Sabino.
“[Murphy] has seen how the government has attacked his peers .... He knows everything that the government will throw at him,” Sabino said.
On the other hand, prosecutors now have experience trying the cases, he added. “The prosecution has learned by doing .... They are in game shape,” said Sabino.
The firms that agreed to payments in settlements of charges include: GE Funding Capital Market Services Inc., $70 million in December 2011; Wachovia, $148 million in November 2011; J.P. Morgan, $228 million in July 2001; UBS, $160 million in May 2011; and Banc of America Securities, now Bank of America Merrill Lynch, $137 million in December 2010.