Ex-Mayer Brown lawyer guilty in third trial over Refco fraud

NEW YORK Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:08pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Mayer Brown partner conspired with top executives at commodities broker Refco to hide its true financial condition from investors, a federal jury found on Friday at the lawyer's second criminal trial on the same charges.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan found Joseph Collins guilty of seven counts, including conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud. He was cleared of two counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.

Formerly an outside lawyer for Refco, Collins, 62, was charged with helping the firm's executives conceal a $2.4 billion fraud that caused the broker's 2005 implosion.

A lawyer for Collins said he would appeal.

Collins was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to seven years in prison. But in January, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the conviction, finding that the judge at the first trial should have called defense lawyers in before advising a recalcitrant juror to continue deliberating. The court remanded the case for a new trial.

Sentencing is set for March 20, 2013. The fraud charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison each.

The Refco fraud, which was revealed soon after the company's August 2005 initial public offering, led to the prosecution of several Refco executives. Former chief executive Phillip Bennett is serving a 16-year prison sentence and former president Tone Grant is serving 10 years.

The case is USA v. Collins, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 07-cr-1170.

(Reporting By Nate Raymond and Basil Katz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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