Ex-Merrill Lynch Staffer Laughing All The Way To Jail

29-year-old Steven Mandala managed to con Merrill Lynch into giving him a job in 2009. The broker lied about his qualifications and forged pay stubs and tax returns, tricking Merrill into believing that he was a top-notch broker who earned $765,000-a-year.

Mandala told Merrill that he was a partner at Maxim Group, managing $300m in assets and producing commissions of $1.5m-a-year, when in fact he was a lowly broker there. As part of his joining package, Merrill extended Mandala a $780,000 loan, which he used to live it up and buy a Ferrari. He quit after 2 months, and didn't repay the loan. Before long, though, he got his comeuppance.

And he was back in court on Wednesday - and seemingly in good spirits. Reuters reports that Mandala 'couldn't keep a straight face' as he pleaded guilty to felony grand larceny and identity theft charges. He will be sentenced next month, and faces up to six years in jail.

Finally, Reuters reports that lawyers acting for Allen Stanford, the man languishing in a Houston jail for allegedly orchestrating a Ponzi scheme, are seeking that their man is released from prison pending his trial. Stanford, who has been locked up for 11 months now, is not due to face a trial until January 2011.

The news agency quotes Stanford lawyer Robert Bennett, who wrote in a court brief: 'When Mr Stanford surrendered to authorities, he was a healthy 59-year-old man. (His) pre-trial incarceration has reduced him to a wreck of a man; he has suffered potentially life-impairing illnesses; he has been so savagely beaten that he has lost all feeling in the right side of his face and has lost near-field vision in his right eye'.

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