Rajaratnam, Chiesi Plead Not Guilty

Dec 21 2009 | 2:10pm ET

Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam and former New Castle Partners executive Danielle Chiesi pleaded not guilty to charges they partook in a $20 million insider-trading circle.

The two were indicted last week on securities fraud and conspiracy charges, two months after their arrest. If convicted, Rajaratnam faces up to 145 years in prison, and Chiesi 155 years.

At the hearing, prosecutors and defense attorneys sparred over when to hold the trial, which U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell, who is presiding over the case, expects to take about a month. The government asked Holwell to set the trial for June or July, ensuring that the case will be wrapped up by the time the Securities and Exchange Commission’s lawsuit against the two goes to trial in August. Lawyers for Rajaratnam and Chiesi asked for more time.

The timetable proposed by prosecutors is “wildly ambitious,” Chiesi’s lawyer, Alan Kaufman, said. But Holwell, who said he would consult with the judge overseeing the SEC case before setting a trial date, warned that they “may wind up on an expedited schedule.”

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