A disbarred ex-Baker & McKenzie partner has been sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
Eastern District Judge Nicholas Garaufis (See Profile) imposed the sentence on Martin Weisberg, saying Weisberg's actions were not a lapse of judgment but "calculated frauds and lies" that were based on "greed, plain and simple."
Weisberg's sentence also included three years of supervised release, 1,000 hours of community service, a $297,500 restitution order and a $250,000 forfeiture.
Seeking a term of probation, Weisberg, 62, told Garaufis he was "filled with remorse, shame, contrition and humility" as he faced sentencing.
Weisberg apologized to his family, friends, former colleagues and "all I may have hurt by my actions." Speaking of his forfeited law license and inability to consider himself part of the legal community, Weisberg added, "It is a loss I feel bitterly… It is a loss I deserve to feel."
Weisberg faced two criminal cases. On the eve of jury selection in one trial, he pleaded guilty in May 2012 to one count from each case (NYLJ, May 22, 2012).
In the case that was about to go to trial, United States v. Weisberg, 08-cr-00347, Weisberg was accused of stealing $1.3 million in interest after telling clients he would be putting their $30 million in an escrow account that would not bear interest.
The other indictment, involving multiple defendants, United States v. Saltsman, 07-cr-00641, pertained to an alleged stock fraud scheme.
Under the plea agreement, prosecutors did not seek a specified period of incarceration. But they said in court papers that Weisberg's guideline range should be between 78 and 97 months.
Eastern District assistant U.S. attorney Ilene Jaroslaw told Garaufis at sentencing that a period of incarceration was "just punishment and adequate" while probation would "feed Martin Weisberg's sense of entitlement to act outside of the law."
Furthermore, she added, incarceration would serve as a deterrent for attorneys at large, high-profile law firms who think "status is a shield allowing special privileges from the law."
In making their case for probation, Weisberg's attorneys said he accepted responsibility for his actions, which had taken a great toll on him, including a heart attack. His defense counsel emphasized to the court that Weisberg faced serious personal issues.
George Stamboulidis of Baker & Hostetler said Weisberg had "extraordinary family challenges"—especially in regard to the well-being of Weisberg's teenage son. Details about the son's condition were redacted in court papers and were discussed at a sidebar during sentencing.
When the sidebar finished, Stamboulidis said in open court that Weisberg's "availability is necessary" for his son.
Elkan Abramowitz of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello reiterated the point, saying Weisberg "lost his reputation and lost his health. We ask him just not to lose his family."
As Garaufis sentenced Weisberg, he said the family issues are a "serious matter, but the court cannot avoid the necessity of an incarceratory sentence simply because you have children in need of supervision."
Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement that "a license to practice law is not a license to violate it… Weisberg's unbridled greed has led him from the halls of an international law firm to a federal prison cell."
Weisberg must surrender to the Bureau of Prisons by Nov. 6.
Eastern District assistant U.S. attorney John Nowak also appeared for the prosecution.
@|Andrew Keshner can be contacted at email@example.com.