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Convicted former Credit Suisse First Boston banker Frank Quattrone won a temporary reprieve Tuesday from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted his request to remain out of prison while his appeal is pending. The three-member panel of Judges Thomas J. Meskill, Robert D. Sack and Barrington D. Parker Jr., overruled Southern District of New York Judge Richard Owen, who had denied Quattrone’s request and ordered him to begin his 18-month sentence on Oct. 28. Quattrone was found guilty of obstruction of justice in May, six months after his first trial ended in a mistrial. The prosecution’s case against Quattrone, a leading banker during the 1990s Internet boom, rested on an e-mail he sent to his staff to “clean up” their files while a government investigation was pending. Quattrone has declared his innocence from the beginning. Judge Owen sentenced him to 18 months in prison after granting a government motion for an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines based on Quattrone’s alleged perjury when he took the stand in his own defense. In comparison, Martha Stewart, who was convicted of the same crime, was sentenced to 5 months in prison and 5 months of home confinement. In Tuesday’s motion before the 2nd Circuit, Quattrone’s attorney, Mark Pomerantz, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, asked the panel to allow Quattrone to remain free on bail while his appeal is pending. Owen had rejected an agreement between the parties that would have allowed Quattrone to do just that. Pomerantz briefly mentioned evidentiary decisions made by Owen that he found unfavorable to his client. “We believe that the mix of circumstances the jury got to hear was the wrong mix,” he said, adding it “unfairly prejudiced” jurors. Quattrone’s trial attorney, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest, had several disputes with Owen regarding the district judge’s evidentiary rulings that kept allegedly exculpatory facts from jurors. “This is unquestionably a close case,” Pomerantz said to the panel in an effort to strengthen his plea that Quattrone should not serve jail time if the appellate court is likely to overturn his guilty verdict. Steven Peikin, co-chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Unit, told the panel that it was not a close case and supported Owen’s evidentiary rulings. The panel asked few questions during the brief oral arguments and handed down its decision immediately after the parties finished.

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