Theodore Sihpol III, an ex-broker for Bank of America, either knowingly participated in hedge fund Canary Capital Partners' illegal mutual fund trading, and profited from it, or was a mere "order taker" who "stole nothing," and had no idea that what he did was wrong, according to opening statements at Sihpol's trial last Monday.

Sihpol, 37, is charged with grand larceny and securities fraud, and faces up to 25 years in prison. His case is deemed important because he is the first defendant to be tried in criminal court as a result of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's nationwide investigation of the mutual fund industry, begun on Sept. 3, 2003.

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