Attorneys argue for Vilar’s release
NEW YORK – Attorneys for financier and philanthropist Alberto Vilar argued last week that he should be released on bail and his conviction overturned.
Vilar for whom the Vilar Center is named, was 69 years old when he was sentenced to nine years in prison for securities fraud. He is being held at the Fort Dix Correctional Institution and was denied bail because Manhattan Federal Judge Richard Sullivan ruled he was a flight risk.
Vilar’s attorney, Vivian Shevitz, appealed to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the appeals court to overturn her client’s bail denial, as well as his entire conviction on criminal charges.
“We’re very hopeful in the Vilar case,” Shevitz said. “The arguments got a lot of attention from the court. We think he could be free on bail soon, and that the court will overturn the entire case. This is about totally reversing the convictions and sentence.”
The federal court of appeals sent the case back to district court for the bail appeal. That one should be decided soon, Shevitz said.
The federal appeals court also heard arguments about the applicability of the criminal charges, forfeiture and restitution.
The case is complicated and has generated mountains of court documents, but basically it’s being appealed on the grounds of what Sheviz called the “extraterritoriality” of U.S. securities laws, Shevitz said.
“This is about their offshore clients, not their U.S. clients. They were squeaky clean,” Shevitz said.
If Vilar is granted bail, he could be freed while the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to overturn his criminal conviction. Shevitz said the court granted bail to a different criminal defendant in a similar case.
In February 2010, Judge 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 argue 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.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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