Legal Ethics

Retrial Begins for Ex-Mayer Brown Partner Accused of Aiding Refco Fraud

Former Mayer Brown partner Joseph Collins is back in court fighting charges that he helped executives at commodities broker Refco hide losses from lenders and investors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Chernoff argued that Collins helped Refco create “a massive fraud” that cost victims $2 billion when the brokerage collapsed, Reuters and Bloomberg report. Collins “used his law license to earn millions of dollars in fees for legal work to help his client Refco commit one of the biggest frauds Wall Street has ever seen,” Chernoff said.

Collins’ lawyer, Jonathan Bach, said Collins had no knowledge of fraud. “This man was lied to and used by his clients,” Bach told jurors.

Collins was convicted and sentenced in January 2010 to seven years in prison for aiding Refco’s fraud in its initial public offering. U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson said Collins was motivated by “excessive loyalty to his client” rather than greed or money.

Early this year, a federal appeals court vacated the conviction because Patterson excluded lawyers from his discussion with a recalcitrant juror.

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