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Associated Press , Published September 11 2013

Judge rejects second appeal by ND commodities broker

FARGO — A judge has reconsidered and rejected an appeal by a Minot commodities broker who says he was suffering from a blood infection and should not have been allowed to represent himself in a wide-ranging investment fraud case.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson agreed to take a second look at the complaint by Frederick Keiser Jr., who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2007 after he was convicted of bilking investors out of millions of dollars. Keiser declined the judge's offer for a court-appointed lawyer.

Keiser was diagnosed with a bacterial infection of the heart lining and valves less than two weeks after a jury found him guilty on all 22 counts. Erickson ruled on the first appeal in 2011 that Keiser could not prove the illness was debilitating or impairing and denied the motion to throw out the sentence.

Erickson decided to reconsider to allow Keiser to present new evidence on his claim that the infection altered his ability to function at trial. But the judge said in a ruling released Tuesday that Keiser's witnesses could not show he "lacked a rational and functional understanding of the proceedings."

Erickson cited his own words after trial when he commended Keiser for how he presented his case during trial, and noted that lawyers "haven't done that well in cases."

Authorities said the scheme recruited at least 500 investors into bank programs by promising high rates of return with no risk. Two of Keiser's associates, Verlin Swartzendruber and Neville Solomon, were convicted and sentenced to terms of seven and five years in prison.

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