NEW YORK - Financier and philanthropist Alberto Vilar was granted bail and will be released from prison pending his appeal, an appeals court ruled Tuesday afternoon.
"The motion for bail pending appeal is granted and the case is remanded to the District Court for consideration and entry of a bail order setting appropriate conditions," said the order from the three-judge panel from the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Vivian Shevitz, attorney for Vilar and his business associate Gary Tanaka, asked that her clients be released on their own recognizance. United States District Judge Richard J. Sullivan gave federal prosecutors have until noon today to submit their objections.
Shevitz argued last month before the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals - Circuit Judges Jon Newman, Jose Cabranes and Chester Straub - that Vilar should be released on bail and his conviction overturned.
Tuesday afternoon the three judges agreed with half of her argument, and said Vilar could leave the Fort Dix Correctional Institution, while his conviction for securities fraud works its way through the appeal process.
Tuesday's one-page order sent the case back to Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan to set bail and conditions.
Vilar, for whom Beaver Creek's Vilar Center is named, was 69 years old when he was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison. He had been denied bail because Sullivan ruled he was a flight risk.
Shevitz was busy Tuesday arranging for the release of Vilar and his partner Gary Tanaka, who was convicted at the same time as Vilar.
"It's court-granted bail, and they're going to be out as soon as I can arrange this," Shevitz said.
Federal prosecutors argued that Vilar is a flight risk and should not be granted bail.
Vilar's and Tanaka's court-appointed attorneys countered that Vilar doesn't have enough money left to be a flight risk, and that Tanaka needs specialized cancer treatments.
In Feb. 2010, Sullivan sentenced Vilar to nine years in prison after he was convicted of bilking up to $40 million from investors. He used at least part of the money for his philanthropic work, court records say.
Sullivan also ordered three years of probation, a $25,000 fine and $21.9 million in restitution.
Vilar's attorneys argued that the government froze more than $50 million in 2005 at J.P. Morgan Chase, and there is more than enough money to repay those victims but the government won't release it.
The complicated case has generated mountains of court documents, but basically Vilar's conviction is being appealed on the grounds of what Sheviz called the "extraterritoriality" of U.S. securities laws.
"This is about their offshore clients, not their U.S. clients. They were squeaky clean," Shevitz said.
Vilar was arrested on May 2005 at Newark International Airport upon his return from a business trip, said Walter Pfaeffle, a paralegal in New York working on Vilar's case.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.