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Miami—A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given a bright green light to the FBI to use sting operations to combat securities fraud. The unanimous ruling, unpublished by the court and not posted on its Web site, was a solid endorsement of undercover techniques employed by agents and prosecutors in the successful Miami-based investigation code-named Operation Bermuda Short. Specifically, the court rejected a defense request that it repudiate as “outrageous” the law enforcement technique of using undercover stings that unnecessarily “manufacture” securities crimes. “The Supreme Court has recognized government infiltration into criminal activity to be a ‘recognized and permissible means of investigation,’ ” the opinion said. U.S. v. Bruce Bertman, Jerry Poole, No. 03-13498-GG. More stings to come? The decision appears to clear away any lingering doubts about the legality of a strategy challenged on appeal as entrapment. Some defense attorneys familiar with the probe have said that based on Bermuda Short’s success-nearly 50 people were convicted-they suspect that more secret sting operations are currently under way in South Florida. Miami appellate attorney Steven J. Wisotsky, who represents Bermuda Short defendant Bruce Bertman, said he was “disappointed” with the ruling that also turned aside defense arguments asserting a lack of evidence in the case and error by the Miami trial judge, U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham, in sentencing. He said he would ask the court for a rehearing. Wisotsky is a Nova Southeastern University law professor and appellate counsel at Zuckerman Spaeder in Miami. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Colan of Florida’s southern district represented the government on appeal. A spokesman for Colan’s boss, U.S. Attorney Marcos D. Jimenez, did not return a phone call before deadline. Bertman and co-defendant Jerry Poole, who was represented by West Palm Beach, Fla., solo practitioner Val Rodriguez, filed the appeal. Until their convictions in 2003, Bertman was chief executive of Rockville, Md.-based WorldTeq Group International, and Poole was a licensed stockbroker and shareholder in Bertman’s company. He and Bertman had worked together in hopes of raising enough capital to get the small Internet and telecommunications firm, previously known as A1 Internet.com, listed on Nasdaq. Bertman and Poole were convicted on multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud. They were among dozens affiliated with 23 small, publicly traded companies who were targeted in the sting.

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