Prison Sentence for Ex-CNN Financial Pundit Upheld

May 5, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the 160-month prison sentence handed down to a former financial news television personality who admitted to fraud, with the court saying the sentence was "reasonable."

Todd Eberhard, a stockbroker and frequent guest commentator on CNN's "Moneyline" and other business news programs, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of investment advisory fraud, wire and mail fraud and obstruction of justice in September 2004.

During his plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Eberhard admitted to making excessive trades in clients' mutual fund accounts, in a practice known as churning, to generate commissions for himself.

He also admitted to stealing client funds through unauthorized transfers and said his crimes occurred from 1993 to 2003.

Eberhard worked through two Manhattan-based companies that he controlled: Park South Securities, an investment advisory firm registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and EIA, an unregistered financial services company.

He had appealed his sentence, arguing that U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet was too harsh and should have sentenced him to just 96 months as the probation office had recommended.

But a three-judge panel at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, noting Judge Sweet could have sentenced Eberhard to 188 months.

"We see no reason to conclude that Eberhard's sentence ... lies outside the scope of what is reasonable," the appeals court ruled.

(Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz; Editing by Braden Reddall)

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