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The Jury Balks & Frank Walks

Oct
25
2003

Editor’s Note:This post originally appeared as a news story in The New York Post.

Jurors forced a mistrial in the cast against Frank Quattrone yesterday; saying they weren’t convinced the former star tech banker destroyed documents or ordered others to do so in the face of a federal investigation.

Prosecutors indicated they will likely try Quattrone again on obstruction of justice charges, and the banker still face other investigations.

But the mistrial declared by Judge Richard Owen during the fifth day of the deliberations was clearly a big win for Quattrone.

Jurors initially favored acquittal on all three charges by a margin of 6 to 5.They eventually moved to convict 8-3 on two of the charges and remained 6-5 for acquittal on a third.

“It was a very weak case by the prosecutors,” explained juror No. 5, Mayo Villalona. “There was no witness who really said ‘I did this. I destroyed this e-mail.’ ”

Neither Quattrone nor his family, who have accompanied him in court throughout the trial, had any comment.

“We are disappointed because Frank Quattrone is innocent,” his lawyer, John Keker said. “Frank Quattrone is a man of integrity. Frank Quattrone is a man who has always followed the rules.”

Quattrone who was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of witness tampering after federal prosecutors learned of an e-mail Quattrone had sent to employees in CSFB’s Palo Alto tech banking practice.

That e-mail entitled “time to clean up those files,” circulated in December, 2000, days before word of two government investigations was becoming public. Quattrone forwarded it to his employees on the same day he discussed the grand jury investigation with former CSFB General Counsel David Brodsky.

Quattrone maintained throughout his trial that he did not understand the seriousness of the grand jury subpoena. Brodsky, Quattrone said, had assured him that there was nothing to the investigation.

“I believed the story when he was speaking to Brodsky,” Villalona, the juror, told reporters outside the federal courthouse. “I put myself in his position. I would do the same thing. I wouldn’t think I was obstructing justice.”

Villalona, who works at HSBC, a commercial bank, said he was one of those who never believed Quattrone, once Credit Suisse First Boston’s best known banker, was guilty of any of the charges that have been levied against him.

Juror No. 4, Michael Roman, a graphics designer, said he, too, had not been convinced by the government of Quattrone’s guilt. “You had to make a leap because the evidence wasn’t strong enough. I was in the ‘not guilty’ [group] the whole way.”

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