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For Insider Trading Ex-Rep Buyer 22 Months Now Surrender Postponed for Surgery

By Matthew Russell Lee, Light Read, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 22 -- On July 25, 2022 the SDNY prosecutors unsealed an indictment of ex Rep Stephen Buyer for illegal trading on two mergers.

On July 27, 2022 Buyer accompanied by his wife was in Courtroom 17B of 500 Pearl Street to be arraigned. Inner City Press live tweeted it here.

On March 10, 2023 again with Inner City Press in the courtroom as it was throughout the trial, Buyer was convicted on all counts. His sentencing was set for July 11. Afterward, he shook his head as if in disbelief. But it was a trial of trades and timing.  More on Substack here.

  Jump cut to July 31, when sentencing was to occur. Within any letter yet being in the docket, the sentencing was put off, due to last-minute allegations of conflict of interest in counsel.

On August 7, the US filed the bills of individual lawyers who worked for T-Mobile, Alex Janghorbani and Matthew Solomon - but redacted their hours and billing rates, information that is routinely made public in civil cases. Why not in this criminal case?

More on Substack here

On September 19, 2023, Buyer was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Inner City Press live tweeted it, thread here.

On November 7, 2023, Judge Berman heard argument and ruled on the government's restitution request. Inner City Press was there:

Judge: I deny the US' request for $1,391,869.11 but also deny Mr. Buyer's proposal of $154,256.40.

Judge: I will reduce the fee request by 15%...Schulte Roth will get $335,804.45 [Buyer is shaking his head. Total restitution is $765,912.61. ]

As Judge leaves, after "All rise!" Buyer does not stand up.

On November 20, Buyer's redacted request to extended surrender was denied, with golf injury cited: "ORDER as to Stephen Buyer. The Court respectfully declines, without prejudice, to amend the Judgment of Conviction to extend Defendant's surrender date of November 28, 2023. On September 22, 2023, Defendant originally sought to avoid surrender altogether pending the appeal of his conviction. See Defs Letter Mot. 1, ECF No. 171; see also Sent'g Tr., dated September 19, 2023, at 97 - 98. That application was denied by this Court on October 16, 2023. See Order on Letter Mot. 1. ECF No. 183. The Court would need additional information and briefing to resolve Defendant's November 17, 2023 request to extend his surrender date. The November 17 application is based upon Defendant Buyer's golfing mishap, which seems to have aggravated his "anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction."

Days later, however, the postponement was granted in light of Buyer's surgery: "Deft Buyer's surrender date will be re-scheduled in view of Buyer's 11/21/23 surgery. Court will hold a conference on Wednesday, 11/29/23 at 11am (in person or by video as counsel prefer) (Signed by Judge Richard M. Berman on 11/22/23)."

Back on June 14, 2023 Buyer through his potentially conflicted counsel filed his sentencing memo, seeking home confinement and delayed restitution, emphasizing the penalties he's already faced including his son at Charles Schwab getting interviewed.

On June 21, 2023, the US filed its memo, noting that while the guideline is 41 to 51 months, the Office, "the Court should sentence the defendant to a below-Guidelines sentence of 36 months in this case," calling it a "brazen, deceptive scheme."

Judge Berman asked for information about forfeiture and restitution. The US Attorney's Office responded that beyond forfeiture of $349,000, it understands that Guidehouse will seek $261,000 and T-Mobile will seek $1.1 million in restitution. Judge Berman (counter) endorsed: "The Govt submission is insufficient to give the defense adequate time to respond in writing in relation to the sentencing date. It is preferable to resolve all issues, including forfeiture + restitution, before sentencing, even if this entails having to adjourn the sentencing date. SO ORDERED: (Signed by Judge Richard M. Berman on 6/29/2023)."

On July 2, 2023, the US - jointly with Buyer - asked for a postponement: "The Government respectfully submits this joint letter to request (1) the Court adjourn the sentencing in the above-referenced matter set for July 11, 2023 and (2) allow the parties additional time to propose a schedule for any additional written submissions and a new date for sentencing. The Government presently expects to receive materials related to restitution from counsel for T-Mobile and Guidehouse by on or about July 10, 2023, and the Government understands defense counsel would like time to review those materials and request any additional materials before proposing a schedule for any written submissions related to forfeiture and restitution. Accordingly, the parties jointly respectfully request the Court adjourn the July 11, 2023 sentencing date, and permit the parties to advise the Court on the status of their discussions and propose a schedule for any additional written submissions by on or about July 21, 2023."

On July 6, Judge Berman ordered: "ORDER as to Stephen Buyer: The Government shall ensure that the Probation Department provides its position with authorities regarding forfeiture and restitution (in writing) to the Court by July 13, 2023, at noon. As noted by Defense counsel in its July 6, 2023 letter to the Court, "[w]here restitution is permissible under the law, "the probation officer must conduct an investigation and submit a report that contains sufficient information for the court to order restitution." Fed. R. Crim. P.32(c)(1)(B); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3664(a) (requiring the court to order the probation officer to obtain and include in its presentence report or a separate report "information sufficient for the court to exercise its discretion in fashioning a restitution order," including "a complete accounting of the losses to each victim")." Defense shall submit its forfeiture and restitution position with authorities to the Court by July 20, 2023 at noon. The sentencing is adjourned to July 31, 2023 at 9:30 am. (Sentencing set for 7/31/2023 at 09:30 AM before Judge Richard M. Berman) (Signed by Judge Richard M. Berman on 7/6/2023)." Watch this site.

On March 1, 2023, the trial began with opening arguments. Inner City Press live tweeted here.

On March 2, T-Mobile executive (and plus 2 hadicap amateur golfer, he pointed out) Anthony Russo was on the stand. On direct examination he said Buyer trading stock would have been inappropriate under T-Mobile's insider trading rules.

With the jury out of the room, Buyer's lawyer asked for a mistrial. Judge Berman asked for briefing, saying he didn't want to prejudge. He pointed out at the indictment does speak of stock sales, and not only purchases. Buyer's lawyer insisted on the dates of crime listed in the indictment. Inner City Press will cover the filings - for now, thread here

On the morning of March 6, the prosecution called witnesses including Matthew Levine of Virtu Financial, who said along with servers in New Jersey they traded through Manhattan offices (for venue), and Karen Hensel, a journalist in Indiana, Boston and now Florida.

  She said after a friendship then intimate relationship with Buyer he opened a Charles Schwab account in her name and traded Sprint and Navigant stock in it, for her.

On cross examination, the fourth of Buyer's five lawyer asked her to confirm that Steve helps his friends. She did.

More on Substack here.

On March 7, Buyer's lawyers put on the witness stand a series of character witnesses. One had flown in from Indiana the night before; another had traveled to Bosnia with Buyer. Each was asked, since a Congressmember gets to use the prefix "Honorable," if they thought Steve Buyer was - and said yes.

  Former Buffalo Congressman Jack Quinn was allowed to testify by video from Florida (he said he has Parkinsons Disease). With a ceiling fan behind him, he too agreed Buyer is honorable. Will it be enough?

On March 8, Buyer was on the stand, and Inner City Press was there. Thread here:

OK- now in insider trading trial of ex-Rep from Indiana Stephen Buyer - defendant is on the stand

Buyer: When Tony Russo told me about a dark project, I thought he meant NSA and CIA, Sprint had those contracts...

Alonso: Did you tell Tony Russo you'd bought Sprint stock? Buyer: No. I regret it because now I suffer innuendo

Buyer: Tony told me I was to tell VP Pence two hours before the merger. He's from Indiana too.  [Henry Waxman also on list for #TMobile lobbyists meeting]

 Buyer: I traveled to Augusta to consider joining a golf club, Champions Retreat. My cousin wanted to play Augusta National. [Cousin Cal's text about 9 1-putts shown; Buyer replied "I bought Sprint"]

 Exhibits show T-Mobile telling John Sununu, and Manus Cooney for antitrust. They met at DLA Piper.  [Jurors are taking a lot of notes]

More on Substack here.

On March 9, cross and closings, culminating in the rebuttal summation, thread here:

AUSA: Tony Rosso canceled the golf at Doral to be on merger calls. Does it make any sense he would not tell Steve Buyer why he canceled? No. 

[Buyer is shaking his head]

AUSA: Here is Steve Buyer's stock watch list

[Roku, Zendesk, Square- but no Sprint or Navigant].

The notes on the Zacks print-out is him papering the trades. He's smart but you're smarter.

 AUSA: On venue, the NYSE is in SDNY. Game over.

[Buyer shakes his head, whispers to his lawyer.]

AUSA: Ms Hensel is relevant because Mr Buyer called 8 character witnesses. But he lies. He committed thos crime. Thank you.

More on Substack here.

  Inner City Press will continue to cover the trial. More with analysis on Substack here

  Early on March 3, the US filed opposition to Buyer's motion for a mistrial, arguing among other things that "the defendant’s suggestion that the Government “purposefully elicited testimony about a crime Mr. Buyer has not been charged with” (Dkt. 85 at 2) should be dismissed out of hand. As reflected in the transcript, the date range on the Government’s question was added, in the moment, at the request of the defendant. (Tr. 346:12-13). There was certainly no targeted effort to “convict Mr. Buyer on the basis of conduct that falls outside the grand jury’s indictment.” (Dkt. 85 at 2)." Full letter on Patreon here.

In court on March 3, an interview of Buyer was recounted, second-hand through notes. Alonso objected, calling it hearsay. Judge Berman overruled the objection. And so it went into evidence that Buyer said he had joint trading accounts with his wife Joannie and another with his son. Past recollection recorded... The trial will continue on March 6, and Inner City Press will be there.

 As to T-Mobile, the two week trial against the proposed T-Mobile / Sprint merger ended on December 20, 2019 before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Victor Marrero. There were papers due January 8, and a final four hour argument on January 15. Inner City Press began what will be a trial-long live-tweet, here. Day 7 Patreon here.

Back on August 31, Judge Richard M. Berman held a US v. Buyer proceeding, ranging from the so-called filter team to trial dates, most likely in February 2023. Inner City Press live tweeted here

On November 23, Judge Berman ruled on a discovery dispute and concluded, "Cut it out" - "Counsel for both sides should be aware that the Court is not fond of "tit for tat"litigation. Cut it out. (Signed by Judge Richard M. Berman on 11/23/2022)."

On November 30 Judge Berman to his credit set the December 7 oral argument to be virtual, since the defendant - whose right it is - did not object: "ORDER as to Stephen Buyer. The oral argument scheduled for Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 11:00 AM - in the absence of defense objection - is being held by video."

Opinion (than and now): More judges should do this, as they do in civil cases.

But it was converted to in-person, on December 14. Inner City Press there, thread

On February 12, 2023, Buyer's counsel wrote to seek to exclude another other things text messages: "  The exhibits at issue are GX 402, a series of text messages between Mr. Buyer and Individual-1 from August 18, 2016 through October 23, 2017 (before the events in the indictment); GX 401, which contains a series of texts between the two from 2021 (long after the events in the indictment); and GX 306, an email in which Mr. Buyer sent photos of Individual-1’s daughter’s wedding in 2019 and wrote “you are beautiful.” Other topics discussed are hot-button political topics like abortion (Individual-1 stridently expressed that she is pro-life and was very negative about pro-choice women) and political debates including admiration for former Vice President Mike Pence (GX 402), discussions of getting together and phrases like “miss you” (GX 401). Notably, GX 402, which the government told us it intends to offer, is 383 pages long. Adding to the prejudice is that within the text strings and in his phone, Individual-1 is referred to by what the government says is a code name, “Leo.” This code name also shows up in a series of documents (GX 413-15) that the government also seeks to introduce, which contain nothing but Mr. Buyer’s passwords from his iPhone, many of which contain the string “leo.” There is no reason to offer any of this other than to tar Mr. Buyer with the stink of infidelity and conservative political beliefs."

Next, there was a February 15 conference, which Inner City Press live tweeted here:

OK - now a conference in US v ex-Rep Steve Buyer. Judge Berman says, "This rolling process is not acceptable. No more motions in limine?"

Buyer's counsel from Orrick replies that he just wants to make sure he can object to evidence at trial.

Judge Berman: Are you seriously asking that? A: I just, uh... Judge: I assume you know. Now the trial is moved back a week to Feb 28

Buyer's counsel: Can we store defense stuff in the courtroom or nearby? Judge Berman: You may have to take care of that yourself. No printers or copiers in the courtroom. But we'll talk about it.

Buyer's counsel: We get it. We can deal with the new trial date.

Judge Berman asks why the defense needs to bring seven laptops in, and then it's over. For now.

This case is US v. Buyer, 22-cr-397 (Berman)

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