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A former Goldman Sachs trader pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday, admitting that he caused his company to lose $118 million in 2007 when he put $8 billion at risk.

Matthew Marshall Taylor, 34, said he took the position on a futures contract traded electronically through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in December 2007 to enhance his reputation and boost his earnings in a year when he made $150,000 in salary and $1.6 million in bonuses. At the time, he was working at Goldman Sachs in lower Manhattan.

According to court papers filed in Manhattan, Taylor entered fictitious information in trading account records and lied to company representatives to cover up the fact that he had put 10 times more money at risk in the trade than he was allowed. He claimed that the $8 billion at risk was actually only $65 million, the papers said.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said he was miffed that the government in a plea deal was holding Taylor responsible for no more than $2.5 million in losses. The amount of money lost in financial crimes usually plays a significant role in the length of any prison sentence.

The judge also said he could not understand why the government was not making a legal finding that Taylor had used "sophisticated means" to carry out the crime. Such a designation would again likely increase the length of any prison sentence. Pauley also noted that the government could have claimed that the crime endangered the financial health of Goldman Sachs, a designation that also could increase a prison sentence. A prosecutor said he did not believe either enhancement was appropriate because Taylor carried out the fraud in a manner similar to his usual work patterns and the company's financial stability was not threatened.


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