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United States v. Litvak

808 F.3d 160 (2015)

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United States v. Litvak

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

808 F.3d 160 (2015)

Facts

The United States government (plaintiff) charged Jesse Litvak (defendant) with securities fraud, alleging that Litvak’s statements to investors exaggerated the value of the residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) he traded. Although each exaggeration was slight, cumulatively the exaggerations significantly increased the profitability of Litvak’s RMBS. The federal district court allowed two investors to testify for the government that they considered what Litvak told them to be important. The court excluded all of expert witness Ram Willner’s proffered testimony. Willner would have explained how the RMBS market functions and the complicated methods traders employ to set RMBS prices. Willner also would have testified that Litvak’s statements were immaterial because investors generally distrust and disregard such statements and excuse slight RMBS-valuation exaggerations. The court also disallowed Marc Menchel’s expert testimony that Litvak had an arm’s-length relationship between his investors and acted as a principal rather than as the investors’ agent. After the jury found Litvak guilty, he appealed to the Second Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Straub, J.)

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