Former technology banking superstar Frank Quattrone was unfairly made into a "poster boy for Wall Street misconduct" when a lone e-mail was used to unfairly convict him of obstruction-of-justice, his attorneys told an appeals court.
Quattrone's defense filed the appeal late Thursday with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said Bob Chlopak, a spokesman for Quattrone. The same Manhattan court in October agreed to let Quattrone remain free while he appeals the May conviction that resulted in an 18-month prison sentence.
Quattrone, 49, was found guilty of hindering a federal probe into how his former employer, Credit Suisse First Boston, had allocated shares of initial public offerings of stock in companies during the late-1990s Internet boom.
The banker was the highest-profile Wall Street figure since junk-bond pioneer Michael Milken to face a criminal conviction.
In the appeals, Quattrone's lawyers said the verdict against their client came after U.S. District Judge Richard Owen in Manhattan made erroneous rulings about evidence and testimony, including letting jurors learn that Quattrone made $36 million in 1999 and $120 million in 2000.
Even without evidence of his huge income, "Quattrone ran a strong risk of being unfairly lumped in with a bevy of Enron-era financial villains," the lawyers said.
The trial evidence included a Dec. 5, 2000 e-mail, endorsed by Quattrone, that encouraged bankers at CSFB to "clean up those files" before the holidays. At the time, federal investigators were looking into the bank's stock-allocation practices.
Quattrone testified at trial that he did not know the scope of the inquiry and was simply following CSFB policy, which called for routine destruction of some outdated documents, when he told colleagues that he would "strongly advise you to follow these procedures."
In the appeal, Quattrone's lawyers said their client's case "illustrates what can happen when a routine e-mail is dissected out of context in the harsh glare of a courtroom."
They said the "22-word e-mail — the entire basis of the case against him — left a respected, innovative and dynamic investment banker vilified and facing a lengthy prison term."
The lawyers said the Justice Department leveraged the e-mail into obstruction of justice charges as the media made Quattrone "a poster boy for Wall Street misconduct."
Federal prosecutors did not immediately return a call for comment late Thursday.
The lawyers also said a recent Supreme Court ruling finding it unconstitutional for judges to enhance sentences based on a fact not found by the jury requires that Quattrone be resentenced.
They noted that the judge concluded Quattrone committed perjury during his testimony because the jury rejected his account and enhanced the sentencing range from a potential minimum of 10 months in prison to a minimum of at least 15 months.