(Bloomberg) -- A former Platinum Partners fund manager convicted last month of rigging a bondholder vote has asked a US judge to overturn a jury’s verdict, saying prosecutors failed to prove he intended to commit a crime.

Daniel Small was convicted by a Brooklyn, New York federal jury in August of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud but acquitted of a count of wire fraud conspiracy. 

Small should get a new trial because the law he was accused of violating is “too vague” and prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence of his criminal intent, his lawyer Seth Levine said in a memo to the court late Friday.

“Mr. Small’s convictions cannot stand because the government failed to present sufficient evidence that he acted willfully, knowingly, and with the intent to defraud,” Levine argued. 

When Small was convicted in August, US District Judge Brian Cogan asked both sides to file briefs on whether he should let the conviction stand. Cogan in 2019 voided a jury’s conviction of Small’s former colleagues, Mark Nordlicht and David Levy, but a federal appeals court reinstated their convictions in November, concluding Cogan had abused his discretion in throwing out the jury’s verdict. Nordlicht and Levy await sentencing.

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The alleged crimes stem from the sale of Houston-based Black Elk Energy Offshore LLC’s most valuable assets in 2014 as the oil and gas company was heading toward bankruptcy. Black Elk was one of Platinum’s largest investments.

Prosecutors argued Small, Nordlicht and Levy defrauded Black Elk’s third-party bondholders by rigging a solicitation vote and ultimately diverting the $70 million in proceeds from the sale of the oil company’s assets to Platinum, even though Black Elk bondholders had priority.

Levine argued there wasn’t enough evidence that Small knew that Nordlicht acted with “control” over the alleged rigged bonds. He said Small and others intended to pay bondholders 100 cents on the dollar plus interest and alleged prosecutors “refused” to call witnesses who knew relevant facts and instead relied on witnesses largely “ignorant of key issues.”

“A new trial is necessary to avoid manifest injustice,” Levine said, adding, “the paucity of evidence, alone, is grounds for a new trial.”

Prosecutors in the office of Brooklyn US Attorney Breon Peace have until Oct. 24 to file their brief. John Marzulli, a spokesman for Peace, declined to comment.  

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