NYSE Traders Not Guilty After All

Remember back in 2005 when the government brought improper trading charges against a raft of specialist traders at the NYSE? Well the scandal that implicated veteran firms like Van Der Moolen and LaBranche has now been nearly erased as charges against a number of the traders have been dropped and, today, guilty pleas by two of the specialists were vacated. So where do they go to get their reputations back?

WSJ: More guilty pleas were vacated in the long-running prosecution of allegedly improper trading at the New York Stock Exchange.

A federal judge set aside the guilty pleas of two former floor traders at Van der Moolen Specialists USA LLC, and prosecutors dropped the criminal case against a former LaBranche & Co. trader for allegedly making improper trades for their firms’ accounts at the NYSE…

Monday’s developments mark the latest reversal in course for prosecutors who brought criminal charges against 15 specialist traders for allegedly making illegal trades in 2005.

The government dropped criminal cases against seven of those specialists. Two former Van der Moolen floor traders — Robert A. Scavone Jr. and Richard Volpe — were acquitted of criminal charges in 2006.

Last month, a federal appeals court reversed the criminal convictions of Michael Hayward and Michael Stern, formerly specialists at Van der Moolen, and upheld a lower court’s decision to overturn the conviction of David Finnerty, a former specialist at Fleet Specialist Inc., now a unit of Bank of America Corp.

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