Closing Arguments Heard In Martoma Trial

Feb 4 2014 | 12:34pm ET

The jury in the Mathew Martoma insider-trading case will begin considering the former SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager's fate today, following closing pleas from both Martoma's lawyers and prosecutors.

The two sides in the case made their final pitch before a packed courtroom yesterday. Martoma's lawyers assailed the government's star witness and his "totally unbelievable" memory, and called their client a victim of the government's obsession with SAC founder Steven Cohen. Prosecutors countered that Martoma sought an "illegal sneak preview" of pharmaceutical trial results, and used them to earn or save SAC $276 million.

Martoma's chief lawyer, Richard Strassberg, urged the jury to acquit his client, calling into question the testimony of Sidney Gilman, the former medical professor who claims to have passed confidential information to Martoma. Gilman said on the stand that he remembered a key meeting with Martoma only recently as part of an "evolutionary" process; Strassberg said, "he's not remembering, he's creating."

"You can't rely on anything he said to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt," he said. "Without his testimony, the prosecution has no case."

Strassberg cited another part of Gilman's testimony, when the doctor said that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents told him he was "just a grain of sand, as is Mr. Martoma," and that "they are really after a man named Steven A. Cohen."

"Mathew was just a grain of sand in their haste to make a case against someone who is not even in this courtroom: Mathew's boss, Steven Cohen," Strassberg said.

But Martoma "is not a grain of sand," he continued. "He is not a means to make a case against Steve Cohen."

"Mathew's life is on the line," Strassberg reminded the jury. Martoma faces decades in prison if he is convicted.

Prosecutors argued that Gilman would have been crazy to lie on the stand,  and that he was a "canary in the coal mine," giving Martoma an "early warning system."

Martoma was "caught with his hand deep in the cookie jar, and the defense would like you to believe that he was just putting the cookie back," prosecutor Arlo Devlin-brown said. His colleague, Eugene Ingoglia, pointed to what he called the "avalanche of evidence" against Martoma.

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