POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 1, 2012
The state appeals court reversed Wednesday the fraud conviction of a Florida securities broker who was found guilty for his role in what authorities said was the sale of about $1 million in promissory notes to about 20 Hawaii investors in the late 1990s.
A three-member panel of the Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled that the 2006 charges against Richard Morris were filed beyond the five-year statute of limitations. The panel unanimously reversed Morris' securities fraud conviction and set aside his maximum 20-year sentence.
Morris has been free on bond pending the appeal.
Morris was a general broker for 21st Century Satellite Communications Inc., a private cable company based in Florida which tried to get funding through promissory notes.
The company did not generate enough revenue to pay the interest on the notes, the appeals court said.
It filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
State lawyers had said the Hawaii investors lost about $1 million, and investors in other states lost more than $23 million.
They said the five-year notes promised a 13 percent return but weren't secured by the company's collateral.
Robert Byrch of Florida, who was president of company, earlier pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement.
Also pleading guilty was Douglas Nonaka, a certified public accountant in Honolulu who cooperated with authorities.