Jesse Livtak, the bond salesman accused of - horrors! - lying about the great value of his wares, was indeed convicted Friday upon retrial, but only on one count of the ten remaining, and that was for altering a text to show a higher price than he'd actually paid. The jury seems to have drawn a distinction between the "mere-puffery" - okay, lies - told by car salesmen and bond traders, and actually creating false written documentation.
Altering a document was the smoking gun that proved different from "trade talk," according to Michael C. Keats, a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York, who wasn’t involved in the case.
"That was really one of the uglier allegations," Keats said, adding that the prosecution could have more narrowly focused the case . "That’s why they go in with multiple counts, so one of them will stick."
Litvak’s lawyers will likely ask the judge to throw out the single conviction, arguing that because the jury didn’t find him guilty of the false sales talk, it shouldn’t have convicted him on similar statements in writing, said Matthew L. Schwartz, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in New York, who wasn’t involved in the case.
"It seems that the jury was not buying the prosecution theory that puffery and salesmanship in the secondary bond market is criminal," Schwartz said.
I'm sure we here in the real estate industry can live with the distinction. I mean, who doesn't know better than never to put this stuff in writing?
Back to work.