The main event in the trial of former
Bank of America
broker Theodore Sihpol, the first person to face trial in the mutual fund trading investigation, has been pushed back.
Edward Stern, the former hedge fund manager at the center of the far-reaching scandal, was expected by some to take the stand as soon as Wednesday. It appears Stern, who managed the now infamous Canary Capital Partners hedge fund, won't testify before Friday, courtroom sources say.
Instead, on Wednesday jurors heard testimony from Michael Boston, a back-office operations manager for BofA, who oversaw the processing of mutual fund trades. Boston walked jurors through the mundane process of how a mutual fund order is submitted by a broker for processing and execution.
Much of Boston's testimony was devoted to reading out loud some of the dozens of mutual fund order tickets submitted by Sihpol on behalf of the Canary hedge fund. Boston testified that all of the tickets were stamped with various times before 4 p.m. ET, the cutoff time for executing a mutual fund trade at that day's closing prices.
The time stamped on the mutual fund tickets is critical to the prosecution's case, which alleges that Sihpol helped Canary evade the 4 p.m. trading cutoff and engage in late trading, which is illegal.
Prosecutors from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office contend many of the trades Sihpol made for Canary were taken after the 4 p.m. deadline, but given earlier time stamps to make them appear legitimate.
Earlier in the week, Sihpol's former assistant testified that the broker showed her how to place fake time stamps on mutual fund tickets.
Despite that potentially damaging testimony, many courtroom observers say Sihpol's legal defense team is scoring more points with the jury than the prosecution. On cross-examination, one former Canary hedge fund trader testified that he didn't believe he were doing anything wrong in submitting trades after the 4 p.m. deadline.
Sihpol's defense strategy is to argue that his supervisors at Bank of America were aware of his dealings with Canary and that the former broker has been singled out by Spitzer's office. Even though Bank of America paid one of the heftiest fines in the mutual fund investigation, Sihpol is the lone person from the bank to be charged criminally.
Stern, whose hedge fund has figured prominently in just about every settlement negotiated by Spitzer and the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, paid a $40 million fine to Spitzer's office. Neither Stern nor anyone associated with Canary has been charged criminally.
If convicted, Sihpol faces up to 30 years in prison.