MANHATTAN (CN) — Scandal-plagued Wall Street financier Benjamin Wey maintained his innocence Wednesday after federal prosecutors dropped securities fraud charges they could not sustain after a federal judge tossed evidence from bad searches.
“As an American citizen, I feel very proud and honored to be exonerated or vindicated,” Wey told reporters this morning in front of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse.
More than five years have passed since FBI agents raided Wey’s apartment and the Manhattan office of New York Global Group, where he serves as CEO.
The fruits of those searches formed the basis of a securities fraud indictment that accused Wey of making tens of millions of dollars through reverse-merger transactions between Chinese companies and U.S. shell companies by manipulating stock prices.
Wey’s prosecution suffered a blow this past June, however, when U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that the warrants justifying the raids improperly authorized “essentially limitless search and seizure-targeting all documents.”
“The government took weeks or months to apply for warrants facially lacking in particularity and so sweepingly broad in the scope of their proposed authorization as to exceed the probable cause showing submitted to the magistrate judge,” Nathan had found.
Citing this result, prosecutors filed a brief Tuesday dropping the charges against Wey.
“The government sought charges in this matter based in significant part on materials seized during those searches,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brooke Cucinella said in a 3-page brief.
Wey called the judge his “hero” this morning as he celebrated the removal of his ankle bracelet.
Perpetually making headlines for alleged misconduct, Wey’s legal luck appears to be turning. He succeeded earlier this year in reducing more than two-thirds of a $18 million jury verdict for sexually harassing and defaming a Swedish employee.
Although the woman agreed to reduce the judgment to $5.65 million in April, Wey said he is continuing to challenge that award. He is also hoping to dismiss parallel civil litigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“We’re going to fight that with the same level of vigor that we fought this case,” Wey said Wednesday. “We expect that we will prevail in that case too.”
With the sexual harassment case drawing near-constant tabloid attention, Wey generated sensationalism of his own via his website, The Blot. In a profile titled “The Journalist and the Troll,” Bloomberg Businessweek depicted the site as a vehicle to lash out at critical reporters and troublesome regulators.
At the courthouse Wednesday, Wey spun that controversy as his patriotic right.
“The First Amendment is our sacred right,” he said. “I believe everybody has his own view, or her view to express him or herself like everybody here.”
The Blot is the subject of an ongoing defamation lawsuit by Georgetown University Law Center professor Christopher Brummer, who also works for the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency.
For now, Wey vowed to rebuild a career that had been “devastated” by the legal strain.
“I’ll be back on the saddle, on the horse, and moving forward, getting all the employees back, and moving ahead with our business,” he said.
Should Wey manage to close his remaining courtroom dockets, he refused to rule out opening another one against his prosecutors.
“Everything is on the table, firmly on the table,” he said.
Two years ago, former Level Global hedge fund honcho David Ganek brought a civil rights lawsuit that accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York of fabricating evidence to justify the raid that sank his business.
President Donald Trump eventually fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the prosecutor who brought the the cases against Level Global and Wey in his well-publicized crackdown on white-collar crime.
David Siegal, an attorney for Wey with Haynes and Boone, previously called the prosecution’s conclusion the “correct decision.”
“This case should serve as a powerful reminder for years to come that the government must adhere to fundamental safeguards of our privacy and liberty when conducting searches,” Siegal said in a statement Tuesday.
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