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Trial begins for former Baker & McKenzie partner

Martin Weisberg accused of diverting $1.6 million of client’s funds

As if Mondays weren’t bad enough, one former lawyer goes to trial today on charges that he diverted $1.6 million of one of his clients’ escrow funds.

Prosecutors charged Martin Weisberg, a former Baker & McKenzie partner, with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in 2008. They say he secretly put $30 million of one of his clients’ money in an interest-bearing account. The account earned him $1.6 million in interest over 14 months, and Weisberg allegedly transferred $1.3 million out of the account to repay another client.

Weisberg has pleaded not guilty. He says he was authorized to access the interest from the account as a loan, and that he eventually repaid the interest.

This isn’t Weisberg’s first bout of legal troubles. In 1991, a federal jury acquitted him of charges that he helped a client launder profits from an arbitrage scheme. In 2007, he was indicted for an alleged $55 million stock-fraud scheme. That case is still ongoing.

Weisberg faces up to 20 years behind bars for each count of wire fraud, another 10 years for the money laundering charge and a possible $2.6 million fine. 

Baker & McKenzie intends to cooperate with the prosecution if it asks the firm to do so. “Mr. Weisberg was with our firm for a fairly short time,” spokesman Kevin Blasko told Thomson Reuters. “He resigned at our insistence immediately after we learned of his indictment on charges arising from activities unrelated to our firm.”

Ashley Post

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