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Legal Ethics

Lawyer’s Conviction for Obstructing Probe Upheld

Posted Nov 20, 2007 9:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a former Florida lawyer for conspiring to obstruct an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The lawyer, Donald Frank Mintmire, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, according to the Fulton County Daily Report. The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Mintmire’s conviction in a Nov. 13 opinion (PDF).

The government had claimed Mintmire tried to conceal that investors in two companies were nominee shareholders who gave control of their stock to the lawyer.

“The case is important because it shows the difficulty lawyers may face in claiming that they can't be criminally punished for acts they took while representing a client,” the publication says.

Mintmire had argued he had safe harbor under a federal statute that said it is not intended to punish "the providing of lawful, bona fide, legal representation services in connection with or anticipation of an official proceeding."

"His defense always was that he was acting as a lawyer for these corporations and he never did anything wrong,” Mintmire’s lawyer, Bruce Rogow, told the publication.

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