Rajaratnam Appeal To Focus On Wiretaps

May 12 2011 | 8:06pm ET

Shortly after their client had been convicted of 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy, lawyers for Raj Rajaratnam made clear that the nine-week trial was only the beginning of their fight to keep the Galleon Group founder out of jail.

Rajaratnam likely faces up to 19½ years in prison if the conviction stands up. But lead lawyer John Dowd said that he will quickly appeal the verdict against his client.

"There is a Franks issue that remains a very serious issue that we will take up on appeal," he said, referring to the Franks hearing in October after which U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell ruled the wiretaps at the center of the case admissible. At that hearing and prior to the trial, Dowd argued that Congress has not authorized the use of wiretaps in insider-trading cases, that the government misled the judge who approved them and that the taps violated Rajaratnam's constitutional rights.

A terse Dowd, with Rajaratnam at his side, made a brief statement outside of the Manhattan courthouse.

"We're going to take an appeal of this conviction," he said. "We started out with 37 stocks, we're down to 14. So the score is, you know, 23 to 14 in favor of the defense. We'll see you in the Second Circuit" Court of Appeals.

Later, the often gregarious Dowd, who spent much of the two-and-a-half weeks of waiting for the verdict chatting with reporters in the courtroom, made clear he wasn't interested in elaborating.

"Get the fuck out of here," he told a CNBC crew, extending his middle finger. "OK? That's what I got for CNBC."

For his part, the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara could barely contain his glee at the major victory in a press release issued after the verdict was announced.

"Raj Rajaratnam, once a high-flying billionaire and hedge fund manager, is now a convicted felon, 14 times over," he said.

"Like so many others recently, he let greed and corruption cause his undoing," Bharara added. "The message today is clear—there are rules and there are laws, and they apply to everyone, no matter who you are or how much money you have."

Experts give Rajaratnam, who was allowed to remain free on $100 million bail, little chance of overturning the verdict.

"Because judges are really, really rigorous about holding prosecutors to the rules, it is virtually impossible for a defendant to suppress evidence from a federal wiretap," Stanford Law School professor Robert Weisberg told Reuters yesterday.

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