EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A federal judge sentenced the architect of a timeshare telemarketing scheme that bilked $30 million from 22,000 victims to more than 15 years in prison Monday, waving off the new mother’s sobbing claims of remorse.
U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy rejected Jennifer Kirk’s request for a 12-year term and admonished the 31-year-old New Jersey woman for starting a family even after her scheme had drawn the attention of state and federal authorities.
“The tragedy of this is this very vulnerable young baby is going to get her start in life without her mother,” Murphy said as an onlooker in the gallery clutched Kirk’s 15-month-old daughter.
Federal prosecutors say Kirk operated Florida-based Universal Marketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions from October 2007 to December 2009, employing telemarketers who falsely told timeshare owners in unsolicited calls that they had buyers for their properties.
Using what federal prosecutor Bruce Reppert described as slick sales tactics, Kirk’s workers solicited closing costs of up to several thousand dollars from people across North America and Puerto Rico, and promised to refund them when the deals closed, supposedly within two to three months, the U.S. government alleged. But Kirk’s companies sold few if any of the timeshares and pocketed those fees.
Newedge paying $700,000 fine for inaccurate reports
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have ordered Newedge USA to pay a $700,000 civil fine for filing inaccurate trading reports and violating a previous order sanctioning the brokerage firm for the same conduct.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Monday that Newedge agreed to the fine to settle charges that it submitted trading reports with numerous errors between March and July 2011. Newedge was sanctioned in February 2011 for filing erroneous reports between June 2009 and July 2010.
New York-based Newedge paid $220,910 in fines and restitution under the 2011 order, which also covered alleged violations of caps on the amount of trading allowed for speculation in cattle futures in 2009.
The newest errors in Newedge’s reports included overstating and understating the firm’s positions in various commodities, the CFTC said in a news release.
Newedge also must put procedures in effect to prevent future violations.
Leading Swiss banker resigns over currency deals
LONDON — After days of saying he wouldn’t, the chairman of Switzerland’s central bank abruptly resigned Monday, brought low by a swirling controversy over foreign-exchange transactions that made tens of thousands of dollars for him and his wife.
Philipp M. Hildebrand, head of the Swiss National Bank, insisted he was innocent of any insider trading but said he would step down immediately from one of the world’s highest-profile central bank jobs. The decision followed weeks of criticism that his integrity had been badly compromised by currency trades made by his wife, Kashya, who took advantage of central bank policies to earn a h efty profit.
“My word is my bond. I had no knowledge of my wife’s transaction,” Hildebrand said, adding ruefully: “I depart on good terms and, above all, wiser and more experienced than a few weeks ago.”
As one of the world’s premier central banks, the Swiss National Bank under Hildebrand has participated in coordinated action with the U.S. Federal Reserve and other foreign counterparts to shore up the global financial system amid recession and the euro’s ongoing troubles.
Ill. lawyer wins appeal in NY trial of $2.4B fraud
NEW YORK — A Chicago lawyer sentenced to seven years in prison in a $2.4 billion fraud at Refco Inc. is entitled to a new trial because of errors the judge made in dealing with the jury, a federal appeals court said Monday.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Joseph P. Collins, saying U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson erred when he failed to disclose the contents of a jury note and didn’t include lawyers when he spoke with a juror accused of trying to barter his vote.
The lawyer from Winnetka, Ill., was convicted in July 2009 of conspiracy and other charges. Federal sentencing guidelines had called for 85 years in prison.
The trouble with the jury became clear after one juror claimed that another juror had threatened to cut off his finger or have her husband “take care of you,” according to the appeals ruling. The following day, the jury foreman wrote a “private note” saying that the juror who complained about physical threats ran into trouble with other jurors after he tried to “barter” his vote by making it contingent on a charge to be voted on later, the appeals court recounted.
Refco was once one of the nation’s largest independent commodities brokers.
The company in the mid-1990s sustained hundreds of millions of dollars of losses through losing trades and engaged in an elaborate campaign to cover them up, attracting the attention of federal authorities. Refco filed for bankruptcy in 2005, just weeks after going public and soon after revealing that a $430 million debt owed to the company by a firm controlled by former Refco CEO Philli p Bennett had been concealed.
Before its fall, Refco employed some 2,400 employees in 14 countries. Bennett is serving 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.