Ill. lawyer convicted in NY in $2.4B Refco fraud

November 16, 2012 - 7:33 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A Chicago area lawyer whose first conviction was overturned on appeal was convicted again Friday in a $2.4 billion fraud that led to the collapse of what was once the nation's largest independent commodities firm.

Joseph P. Collins was convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and other offenses including securities fraud and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Manhattan after a monthlong trial in the Refco Inc. case. He was acquitted of two counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.

His sentencing was set for March 20.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Collins, 62, used his law license to orchestrate a massive accounting fraud that left Rafco in tatters. He said Collins "gave the legal profession a black eye" by actively participating in the crimes of his client by lying and by falsifying or concealing documents.

Collins, of Winnetka, Ill., was convicted once before and sentenced to seven years in prison. The conviction was overturned when a federal appeals court found errors in the trial.

Refco filed for bankruptcy in 2005. Its former CEO pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Others convicted in the case included one of Refco's former owners, a former chief financial officer and a former executive vice president.

Collins said Refco executives never revealed the fraud to him.