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Frank Quattrone, the superstar investment banker who was tried twice for obstructing a federal investigation, got some good news today. A judge in New York approved a deal that is likely to result in the dismissal of all the charges against him. The deal means that Quattrone, a central figure in the dot-com boom of the 1990s, can go back to work in the securities industry.
NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.
JIM ZARROLI reporting:
It took just minutes for Federal Judge George Daniels to approve the agreement and end Frank Quattrone's long legal ordeal. If Quattrone goes a year without violating state or federal law, the government will drop all charges against him. He won't have to admit wrongdoing.
Minutes after the judge's ruling, a beaming Quattrone stood outside the federal courthouse and read a brief statement.
Mr. FRANK QUATTRONE (Former Investment Banker): I'm very pleased that the case will be concluded and I look forward to the formal dismissal of all charges.
ZARROLI: Quattrone is a south Philadelphia native who rose to great heights during the dot-com boom, earning as much as $100 million in a single year. The case against him stretches back to December 2000, when U.S. officials were investigating the way his firm, Credit Suisse First Boston, handled stock offerings.
Quattrone forwarded an e-mail to his employees reminding them of the firm's policy on document retention. Prosecutors said this was a coded message telling them to destroy evidence. They charged Quattrone with witness tampering and obstruction.
His first trial ended in a hung jury. He was convicted after a second trial, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. Former federal prosecutor Dan Richman, who teaches at Fordham University Law School, says the Justice Department had to calculate whether it was worth it to try Quattrone again.
Mr. DAN RICHMAN (Fordham University School of Law): Here we have somebody against whom the government has a decent amount of evidence but, to be clear, not enough to persuade one jury. The government has other cases to do. You have to decide whether it's worth putting these resources into this case again.
ZARROLI: After two trials and a long legal odyssey, it's clear that Quattrone has already paid a price for sending that e-mail. But in the eyes of the law, he will walk away with a clean record. Perhaps as important, he'll be able to return to the securities industry if he wants. Quattrone said today that he looks forward to returning to the business world, although he didn't say what he plans to do.
Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.
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