Defense of fraud and breached fiduciary duties
Client Bill Wilkinson worked with Mick Ramunno at Renaissance Asset Management, where Mr. Ramunno traded a commodity investment pool on behalf of investors. During an audit by the National Futures Association, Ramunno admitted that the operation was a Ponzi scheme. Over the next several months, Mr. Leonard guided Mr. Wilkinson through investigations by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (which sued Mr. Ramunno and Renaissance for commodities fraud but did not name Mr. Wilkinson), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice (which indicted Mr. Ramunno but did not take action against Mr. Wilkinson), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)(which determined after investigation that it would take no action against Mr. Wilkinson), and the National Futures Administration (which reached a non-public resolution with Mr. Wilkinson that involved no disciplinary action). Over the following five years, Mr. Leonard represented Mr. Wilkinson in five lawsuits filed by defrauded investors who claimed that Mr. Wilkinson participated in Mr. Ramunno’s fraud and breached fiduciary duties owed to them. In two of the cases, the courts ruled that the lawsuits could not proceed against Mr. Wilkinson because the claims had to be asserted in arbitrations; the investors appealed, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Georgia Supreme Court declined to review the cases; no arbitrations were ever filed. In the third case, three investors sought more than $1.5 million plus punitive damages and attorneys’ fees from Mr. Wilkinson; the court granted summary judgment in favor of Mr. Wilkinson on all claims. In the fourth and fifth cases, the plaintiffs dismissed their claims after their expert witness was discredited and withdrew her prior testimony. CFTC v. Renaissance Asset Management, LLC, et al.; FINRA investigation; National Futures Association investigation; FBI investigation; Freeman v. Ramunno, et al.; Johnson v. Teton Investment Partners, LLC, et al.; Graves v. Teton Investment Partners, LLC.