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Defendant stockbrokers accused of swindling more than $83 million from customers of Meyers Pollock Robbins Inc. have failed to convince a state judge in Manhattan to dismiss enterprise corruption charges against them. Twelve former stockbrokers, branch owners and others connected to the investment firm joined in seeking dismissal of a state enterprise corruption charge, the centerpiece of an 111-count indictment. Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office allege that the now-defunct investment firm, its principals and employees manipulated several small-cap securities and left investors with worthless investments. The defendants argued that Acting Justice Bernard J. Fried had previously dismissed such state racketeering charges in the interests of justice. The judge last week in People v. Meyers Pollock Robbins Inc., 2528/2000, filed in Supreme Court, New York County, Criminal Term Part 75, rejected their arguments. The president of Meyers Pollock, Michael Ploshnick, and six other defendants have already pleaded guilty in connection with the charges. Justice Fried has severed the remaining defendants into two groups for trial. The first group of seven defendants is expected to go on trial later this spring. Justice Fried noted that he had dismissed enterprise corruption charges in the interests of justice in two cases in 1995, but he distinguished those prosecutions of small owner-operated plumbing companies from the widespread fraud alleged to have been committed by the defendants from its branches in New York, Florida and Nevada. “I was convinced that in those cases [ People v. Andreadakis and People v. Demenus], involving small, closely held corporations, that there were adequate sanctions and that the enterprise corruption statute’s enhanced sanctions, were not ‘necessary,’ referring to the legislative findings. However, a similar conclusion in this case, involving a far flung operation, with numerous participants, would be unwarranted where the evidence before the grand jury demonstrated the existence of a criminal enterprise, operating essentially through the structure of Meyers Pollack, with offices — branches or franchises — located in at least three states … and through several outside stock promoters and alleged money launderers, to fraudulently sell large quantities of securities,” the judge wrote. “The question becomes whether it is ‘fair’ to prosecute these defendants for enterprise corruption. To me, it does not seem unfair to do so. Nor do I accept the argument proffered by various defendants that their individual misconduct, or that their individual role was so minor as to warrant dismissal in the furtherance of justice,” he added. The judge rejected challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence considered by the grand jury and issues of corroboration, venue and grand jury instructions. However, he did dismiss six counts of commercial bribe receiving as there was no evidence before the grand jury establishing jurisdiction in New York County.

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