Joseph Collins, a former Mayer Brown partner, was ordered on Monday to serve one year and one day in prison but will remain out on bail pending his appeal from his conviction for his role in the $2.4 billion Refco fraud. Citing Collins's history of giving time and money to a host of individuals and causes, as well as his secondary role in the fraud led by imprisoned ex-Refco chairman and CEO Phillip Bennett, Southern District Judge Loretta Preska (See Profile) said a short prison term was merited.
Preska also credited Collins' argument that, while he earned plenty as a partner from Refco business, unlike Bennett, who is serving 16 years, Collins did not stand to make millions from the fraud. And she cited the loss of Collins' law license and "considerable standing in the legal community" as well as the fact that he faces civil suits that could leave him bankrupt.
Southern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Chernoff had asked for a "substantial sentence" while defense lawyer William Schwartz of Cooley asked for no prison time. Schwartz succeeded in keeping his client out on bail by arguing there was a substantial issue presented on appeal on Preska's decision to read the jury a charge on conscious avoidance.
Collins was convicted in 2012 of conspiracy and two counts each of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. His first trial in 2009 ended in convictions that were later thrown out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.