Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp.’s ex-Chairman Lee Farkas lost a bid to overturn his convictions for orchestrating a $3 billion scheme prosecutors said was among the biggest bank frauds recorded in the U.S.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, today found nothing in Farkas’s trial that would warrant reversing any of his 14 convictions, rejecting arguments he was deprived of a fair trial.
“Having carefully considered Farkas’s contentions in light of the record presented to us, we discern no reversible error,” Circuit Judge Andre Davis wrote for the three-judge panel.
The decision “concludes the successful prosecution of over a half-dozen corporate executives less than three years after the multibillion dollar fraud was uncovered,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia said in the statement.
Davis said that the federal court was correct in allowing the trial to take place in the Eastern District of Virginia, in appointing a lawyer to defend Farkas, in limiting cross- examination of a witness and in giving instructions to the jury about the meaning of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” among other challenges raised by Farkas in his appeal.
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that “amply justified” his jury conviction, Davis wrote.
“Farkas and his co-conspirators engaged in a multistage fraud scheme between 2002 and 2009, while Farkas was chairman and principal owner” of mortgage-lending company Taylor Bean, Davis said.
Farkas was found guilty of bank, wire and securities fraud in April 2011 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Prosecutors said the scheme was one of the U.S.’s largest and longest-running bank frauds, which duped some of the country’s biggest financial institutions, targeted the federal bank bailout program and contributed to the failures of Taylor Bean and Montgomery, Alabama-based Colonial Bank.
“We aren’t surprised by the ruling but obviously are very disappointed for Lee,” said David Coorssen, Farkas’s lawyer, in a telephone interview. He said hadn’t yet been able to discuss with his client whether to request a review by the Supreme Court or to file a claim that Farkas had been deprived of competent counsel during the trial.
The district court case is U.S. v. Farkas, 10-cr-00200, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria). The appellate case is U.S. v. Farkas, 11-4714, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Richmond).
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