The judge rejected a defense motion to strike out the prosecution case of former Credit Suisse First Boston star banker Frank Quattrone. There was some heat between lawyers in the courtroom over the motion before Judge Richard Owen told the lawyers he had heard enough. He spoke the fateful words: “I deny the motion.”

Quattrone’s lawyers filed the motion shortly after prosecutors called their final witness in the trial, CSFB’s vice chairman and top attorney, Gary Lynch.

In the motion, Quattrone’s defense lawyers said “The government has failed to offer sufficient evidence of specific intent to cause the destruction of evidence sought” by U.S. securities regulators and a federal grand jury. “The court should therefore enter a judgment of acquittal on all counts.”

After heated arguments by defense and prosecution lawyers, Judge Richard Owen said he would leave the question of Quattrone’s innocence or guilt to the jury rather than putting a stop to the trial.

Earlier in the day, CSFB’s Lynch took the witness stand to testify about a telephone conversation he had with Quattrone in January 2003.

Lynch said Quattrone told him that he did not know he was ordering the destruction of documents relating to an investigation in late 2000 when he forwarded and endorsed an e-mail written by a subordinate telling staff to “clean up” their files.

“It was a matter of fact, (an) unqualified statement that he was not aware of the investigation,” Lynch said in testimony that prosecutors hoped would show Quattrone was misleading authorities as recently as this year about events that took place in 2000.

Jurors had previously heard testimony from another government witness who said he had told Quattrone about an investigation by a federal grand jury two days before Quattrone endorsed the “clean up” files e-mail.

The defense, meanwhile, began its case by calling Richard Char, the former CSFB investment banker who initially wrote the e-mail at the center of the obstruction of justice trial.

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