Securities Law

Citing $350K Bling, NY Judge Gives Ohio Lawyer 7 to 21 Years in $110M 'Pump and Dump'

Contending that his legal training had not prepared him to recognize a so-called pump-and-dump securities scheme, an Ohio lawyer today tried to persuade a New York judge today not to jail him. But the argument was unsuccessful: James Margulies, 47, was sentenced to a 7- to 21-year prison term for his role in a $110 million stock fraud in which he says he was a dupe rather than an intentional participant.

He must also pay $7 million in restitution, representing his profits from the scheme concerning Manhattan-based Industrial Enterprises of America Inc., reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Margulies had tearfully pleaded for no jail time, talking about his children, before being sentenced today. One of his children has special needs, he said, and his absence could be “devastating” for her, according to the New York Daily News and Reuters.

But the judge wasn’t persuaded, telling Margulies that he hadn’t been thinking about his kids when he participated in the fraud or bought his wife a $350,000 ring, according to the Daily News.

“Your children didn’t need to live in a house that was decorated like a museum,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro told Margulies, adding: “They needed a father’s love not all that material stuff.”

He also questioned Margulies claim that he was duped into the scheme, telling the attorney “It’s probably one of the strongest cases that’s ever come before this court,” reports Reuters.

“Each day, the evidence just mounted and mounted and mounted,” Carro said. “You say that you got into this innocently, but this fraud started on Day 1.”

A graduate of Case Western Reserve University’s law school, Margulies lived a lavish lifestyle, according to prosecutors. An earlier Plain Dealer article details some of his six-figure expenses.

He initially worked in BigLaw before forming a small law practice in the Cleveland area with a partner. He worked there while also serving as outside counsel for Industrial Enterprises, as well as the company’s chief financial officer and, for a short time, its chief executive, according to news reports.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s website shows Margulies as a lawyer with no disciplinary history. Although he is not shown as currently registered, the registration deadline required a Sept. 1 postmark so some timely sent material may not be reflected on the website yet.

A July press release (PDF) from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance after Margulies was convicted provides further details about the case.

Related coverage: “Lawyer Charged in Alleged $60M Stock Scheme” “Lawyer Convicted in $100M Pump-and-Dump Scheme; Two Law Firms Face Civil Suits”

Business Insider: “How to Impeach a Witness: Trial Attorney Eviscerates Guy Who Gave Yale A Baseball Stadium With Money He Stole”

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