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Corporate Crime: Judge Rejects Former Merrill Lynch Broker's Plea Deal

Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman turned down a plea agreement Wednesday for former Merrill Lynch broker Steven Mandala, who was charged in February with grand larceny after stealing $780,000.

Berkman rejected the defense's motion that Mandala would plead guilty to grand larceny in exchange for a promise that Mandala would only serve one to three years in prison if he paid $400,000 in restitution upfront. Berkman stated that she thought three to nine years would be more appropriate and didn't feel that someone should be able to buy their way out of state prison.

While employed with maxim Group as a stockbroker, Mandala deceived Merrill by saying that he managed $300 million in assets and made about $765,000 a year, which was actually well above his pay. According to a statement made in February by Cyrus Vance Jr., a Manhattan district attorney, Mandala only made $100,000 a year. In April 2009 Merrill hired Mandala and loaned him $780,000 to be paid back over eight years, but Mandala deposited the check into his parents' account, bought a Ferrari in his father's name and resigned less than two months later.

Mandala's charges include grand larceny, money laundering, criminal possession of a forged instrument, falsifying business records and identity theft. The trial date is set for June 2, and if convicted Mandala could face up to 15 years in prison.

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Krystal Wilson

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