Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The trial of former SAC Capital Advisors LP manager Mathew Martoma in a $276 million insider-trading case was postponed two months so his defense lawyer can work on another trial.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe today moved Martoma’s trial from Nov. 4 to Jan. 6, after Martoma’s lawyer told the judge that an unrelated trial beginning today interfered with his ability to be ready on the earlier date. The lawyer, Richard Strassberg, represents Bank of America Corp.’s Countrywide unit in a lawsuit by the U.S. claiming mortgage fraud.
“The upcoming Countrywide trial is already posing an insurmountable difficulty for me to prepare properly for Mr. Martoma’s case,” Strassberg said in a letter to Gardephe dated Sept. 18. The letter was made public today.
The U.S. claims Martoma used inside information from two doctors who were involved in the clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s disease drug to trade shares of Elan Corp. and Wyeth on behalf of SAC, the hedge fund company founded by Steven A. Cohen. The government has called it the biggest criminal insider-trading case against an individual in history.
The Countrywide trial began today in Manhattan with jury selection and opening statements. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who is overseeing that trial, said it may take as long as five weeks. Strassberg told Gardephe in June about a possible conflict between the two trials.
Two weeks ago, Gardephe scheduled Nov. 4 as the trial date in a case involving Stefani Germanotta, better known by her stage name, Lady Gaga. In that case, Jennifer O’Neill, who said she’s a former personal assistant to the musician, is claiming unpaid overtime.
After Gardephe set the Jan. 6 trial date today, Strassberg asked him to move it back another week, to Jan. 13, to allow more time to prepare over the winter holidays. Gardephe said he will rule on the request by tomorrow.
Earlier today, Gardephe signed an order freezing Martoma’s $1.9 million Boca Raton, Florida, home and more than $4 million in accounts held by Martoma and his wife. The government claims the assets were derived from Martoma’s alleged crime and is seeking forfeiture if he’s convicted.
Prosecutors and lawyers representing Martoma agreed to the order, which bars him from transferring the property while the case against him goes forward.
Martoma was paid a $9.3 million bonus tied to the illegal trades, prosecutors claim. SAC, based in Stamford, Connecticut, was indicted in July, partly because of Martoma’s alleged illegal trading.
If convicted, Martoma faces as long as 20 years in prison on each of two securities-fraud charges and five years for a single conspiracy charge. He has pleaded not guilty.
The case is U.S. v. Martoma, 12-cr-00973, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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