Former UBS bankers denied new trial in muni bid-rigging case

NEW YORK Thu May 15, 2014 7:41pm EDT

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NEW YORK May 15 (Reuters) - A federal U.S. judge on Thursday denied a request for a new trial made by three former UBS AG bankers who were convicted of rigging bids to invest municipal bond proceeds.

A jury in August 2012 convicted Gary Heinz, Peter Ghavami and Michael Welty, of defrauding municipal bond issuers, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service. Ghavami was also convicted of wire fraud.

Last July, Ghavami, who left UBS in 2007 as global head of commodities, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Heinz, a former bank vice president, received 27 months and Welty, a former vice president, received 16 months.

In seeking a new trial, a lawyer for Welty argued that the U.S. government failed to turn over evidence that could have changed the outcome of the case. Heinz and Ghavami joined the motion.

In her opinion, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood of Manhattan disagreed. She found that the government had turned over to the defense the equivalent of 19.5 million records prior to the trial.

After the trial, the government discovered that due to the fault of a vendor, it had not reviewed an additional 400,000 documents, according to Wood. After handing those documents over to the defendants, Welty claimed that an email could have helped his case.

But Wood wrote that "even if it had been disclosed before trial, there is no reason to believe that it would have had any impact on the verdict."

Wood also denied a request by Welty and Heinz to be released from prison pending their appeal.

Charles Stillman, an attorney for Ghavami, declined to comment.

Lawyers for Welty and Heinz did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The case is U.S. v. Ghavami et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-cr-01217. (Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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