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Quattrone Jurors About to Get Case

Closing arguments by prosecutor and defense lawyer paint divergent views of the former Silicon Valley financier.

October 15, 2003|Walter Hamilton | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Closing arguments began Tuesday in Frank Quattrone's criminal trial, with prosecutors casting him as a sophisticated financier who was "caught red-handed" trying to derail government probes and Quattrone's lawyer insisting that his client was a "victim."

The summations largely reiterated points each side hammered on repeatedly during the two- week trial, but the opposing lawyers gave spirited presentations in their final bids to win over jurors in what probably will be the first verdict in a batch of closely watched white-collar trials.

Prosecutor David Anders described Quattrone as a high-level executive who feared that mounting federal investigations threatened his perch atop the investment-banking world and its late-1990s epicenter, Silicon Valley.

He said Quattrone, who is charged with obstruction of justice and witness tampering, sent his staff a now-infamous December 2000 e-mail in hopes that they would destroy documents and thus impede those probes.

Anders' presentation was intended to counter the defense's portrayal of Quattrone as a regular guy who didn't understand the significance of the investigations. Anders said Quattrone's not understanding the threat posed by the probes would be like New York Yankee all-star shortstop Derek Jeter forgetting his glove for a game.

"Does Frank Quattrone's story make any sense?" Anders asked rhetorically. Learning about the government probes would have been "memorable, life-altering events. Common sense tells you you're not just going to forget these things."

Anders also made note of Quattrone's demeanor during cross-examination Friday in which the former financier squirmed under an intense prosecution grilling and carefully parsed many of the questions he was asked.

"Did you see how he couldn't answer the simplest question without hedging a bit?" Anders asked jurors.

Quattrone's attorney, John Keker, responded that his client had "previously led a blameless, commendable" life and that the e-mail was dashed off without any criminal intent.

"What you've just heard [from prosecutors] is mostly conjecture, speculation and false logic," Keker told the jury.

Keker blamed the legal department at Credit Suisse First Boston, Quattrone's former firm, for not suspending the firm's so-called document-retention policy, which called for the destruction of certain files, until after Quattrone sent his message.

Keker tried to explain why Quattrone, after being told by another banker that all documents should be kept, didn't send out a second e-mail rescinding the first. He said Quattrone believed the legal department would handle that task immediately -- and that he has suffered because that notice was slow in coming.

"Mr. Quattrone was a victim of a multi-car train wreck -- a collision -- on the information superhighway," Keker said.

Keker was under pressure to win points with the jury after Quattrone's damaging cross-examination, in which the defendant admitted to being involved in the allocation to customers of shares of some hot initial public stock offerings. That contradicted the image Quattrone had portrayed as playing no role in that process.

The issue is potentially crucial because Quattrone has claimed that the government probes focused on IPO allocations, and that because he did not decide allocations he had no motivation to impede the investigations.

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