Convictions of former Wilmington Trust executives tossed by Court of Appeals

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The convictions of former Wilmington Trust President Robert Harra and other former executives have been tossed out by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia over prosecutors relying on a legal theory that should not have been used.

The three-judge panel reversed the false statement and certification convictions, remanding the entry of judgments of acquittal, and vacated convictions for conspiracy and securities fraud pending a new trial.

The judges wrote that the trial environment emphasized a legally erroneous theory.

The long-running case involved charges of concealing bad loans from regulators and shareholders.

The former executives and their team of lawyers had long argued that the prosecution’s case was flawed.

The executives had been sentenced, but did not go to prison pending appeals, a move that drew criticism.

One unanswered question has been the status of former Wilmington Trust CEO Ted Cecala who was never charged in criminal or civil actions with regulators and courts.

Wilmington Trust was acquired in a “take-under” for $300 million about a decade ago by Buffalo, NJ-based M&T. The deal led to the loss of hundreds of jobs, although M&T has since added some positions.

The Wilmington Trust name was retained for money management operations, with banking now under the M&T brand.

M&T went on to agree to a settlement that ended any criminal prosecution.

See court ruling below:

Click to access Harra-opinion.pdf

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