Former investment banking star Frank P. Quattrone can hold off on reporting to a California prison camp until his request to have his obstruction of justice conviction overturned is heard, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit acted after a 10-minute hearing in Manhattan, just nine days before Quattrone, 49, was slated to report to the federal camp in Atwater, Calif., as prisoner 55004-054.
Quattrone, the former head of Credit Suisse First Boston's technology banking group, was convicted in May of obstructing a federal investigation by sending a December 2000 e-mail in which he encouraged subordinates to "clean up those files." His legal team argues that biased and mistaken rulings by the trial judge, Richard Owen, irrevocably tainted the conviction as well as a previous trial that ended in a mistrial.
Owen had ruled in September that Quattrone should go to jail immediately because his appeal did not present a "substantial legal question." The three-judge appeals panel did not explain why they reversed Owen and allowed Quattrone to remain free.
The defense team said in a statement, "We are pleased that the Court of Appeals has allowed Frank Quattrone to remain free on bail. . . . We remain very confident that the conviction will be reversed, and that Frank Quattrone will not have to serve a day in jail."
Lead appeals attorney Mark F. Pomerantz said he believed the appeals judges would not have allowed Quattrone to remain free unless they disagreed with Owen and thought the appeal presented strong legal issues.
But Manhattan U.S. Attorney David N. Kelley, whose office prosecuted the case, said after the hearing, "The court did not articulate or offer any decision on the merits of the appeal, and we look forward to a full hearing."
The 2nd Circuit has not yet set a schedule for the appeal.