This is the guy with PEI that got nailed for financial abuse with his clients. I first found out about him through GATA. Some think he is very much not guilty and is being set up by others within his parent company for a fall. He knew about the Safra killing and the Republic Bank crap. He may not live too long as it is said he knows too much about international economic misdoings. Based on this story it makes you wonder. --------------- Armstrong loses lawyers when they lose fees
By Tony Hagen Trenton, N.J., Times January 22, 2000
NEW YORK -- Criminal defense lawyers for accused bond swindler Martin A. Armstrong of Maple Shade, N.J., yesterday dropped their client over a fee issue.
Richard Altman of Pelletieri, Rabstein, and Altman of Princeton, and Marc Durant of Durant and Durant of Philadelphia, said they could no longer represent the trader because a federal judge had ordered them to surrender $1.2 million in retainers he paid them.
"The fees were ordered returned. That leaves counsel with no ability to properly prepare a defense for the defendant," Altman said yesterday in U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan.
His firm had received $841,000 from Armstrong. He said it had already invested roughly $200,000 in time and expenses on the case.
Durant, who must surrender $390,000, has invested more than $130,000 in time and expenses.
Armstrong has pleaded not guilty to civil and criminal charges that he ran a $1 billion bond swindle from offices at Carnegie Center in West Windsor, N.J., where his companies Princeton Global Management and Princeton Economics International are located.
Armstrong has said he is a scapegoat for offenses committed by others.
Up to 100 Japanese companies were victimized, prosecutors allege. Armstrong's companies are now under control of court-appointed receiver Alan Cohen.
The trader was imprisoned Jan. 14 by U.S. District Judge Richard Owen, who ruled that Armstrong concealed and destroyed corporate assets and documents in contempt of an order to surrender them to Cohen. This week Owen ruled that $1.3 million in legal fees paid to Armstrong's lawyers out of corporate funds must also be turned over to Cohen.
Owen said the lawyers should have been wary of accepting the money because Armstrong was under investigation at the time he signed contracts to pay the lawyers. Much of the money was wired to Armstrong's lawyers in the hours before his arrest on Sept. 13.
"All the law firms were aware of the nature of the government's investigations into Armstrong's business dealings, and therefore, at the very least, in addition to knowing they were not being paid by the client, should have been aware of the possibility that they were being paid with corporate funds obtained by fraud," Owen wrote in his ruling.
Owen's ruling took Altman by surprise yesterday as he learned of it when he arrived in Manhattan for a pretrial conference with prosecutors from the U.S. attorney's office and U.S. District Judge Lawrence McKenna, who is handling Armstrong's criminal trial.
McKenna yesterday assigned a free public defender to Armstrong's defense after Altman and Durant said they would drop the case. The Durant firm was hired by Altman, since the Princeton attorney does not have a license to practice in New York, whereas Durant does.
Altman said he would appeal Owen's ruling on the fees. He told McKenna he would investigate the possibility that Armstrong's friends and business associates might contribute to the trader's legal defense. "There's some possibility of that although that hasn't materialized yet," Altman said.
As part of Owen's order, Armstrong's civil defense lawyer, Martin Unger, was ordered to surrender the $100,000 he was paid as a retainer. Unger could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The trader's lawyers had argued the retainers were rightfully theirs because their contracts were arranged before the Sept. 13 freeze on Armstrong's corporate assets. They contended that as a corporate head Armstrong was entitled to defense funds paid by his corporations.
Armstrong has been imprisoned at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center after Owen found him in civil contempt of an order to surrender assets belonging to Princeton Global Management and Princeton Economics International. Up to $15 million is still missing, investigators contend.
Yesterday Altman said work is proceeding on drawing up an appeal to have Armstrong released from jail. The trader's lawyers have said he turned over everything in his possession and has no further assets.
In other action yesterday, Altman asked McKenna to help Armstrong gain visitation rights at the jail. He said the trader had been isolated in a cell with a "drug felon" and hadn't been given the papers needed to file for visitor privileges. He said the trader's family had attempted to visit Armstrong on Monday but had been turned away.
"It's pretty sad. He hasn't been convicted of anything yet. We still haven't seen any of the alleged Japanese victims come forward," Altman said.
-- Scooter (email@example.com), January 22, 2000
Glad I am poor and Good..
-- salene (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 22, 2000.
The "fed" does not go after innocent people. Never. And I did not have sex with that woman.
-- Bill C. (email@example.com), January 22, 2000.