Friday, December 28, 2012

What Indicted SAC Capital Portfolio Manager Mathew Martoma Can Learn from Crazy Eddie

Back in March 1989, I faced an agonizing decision: Either cooperate with the F.B.I. and S.E.C. investigations of fraud at Crazy Eddie or spend a long time in prison behind bars. Likewise, former SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Mathew Martoma faces a similar important decision: Either cooperate with federal investigations of alleged illegal insider trading at SAC Capital or risk a long prison term. At the time I made my decision, I was married with three young children. Martoma is married with three young children too. We both had larger than life bosses who pressured us with unreasonable demands (me: my cousin Eddie Antar, Martoma: Steven A. Cohen).

Mathew Martoma and his wife after indictment
Facing an imminent indictment and a long prison term behind bars, I chose to cooperate with government investigators and turn in my cousin Eddie Antar and other relatives who ran our 18 year old criminal enterprise. Today, Mathew Martoma faces the same pressure I experienced back in 1989.

Apparently, federal investigators believe that Mathew Martoma is guilty of participating in an illegal insider trading scheme and can implicate his former boss, Steven Cohen as the driving force behind the alleged crime. According to the Wall Street Journal:

As federal agents pressed Mathew Martoma late last year to turn against his former boss, hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, he fainted in the front yard of his Florida home.
"It was an upsetting experience," Charles Stillman, Mr. Martoma's lawyer, when asked about the incident. [Emphasis added.]

On December 21, 2012, Mathew Martoma was indicted for allegedly using information to illegally help SAC Capital profit from trades in certain publicly traded companies. According to the New York Times:

A federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted the former portfolio manager, Mathew Martoma, a month after the government arrested him on charges that he used inside tips about a clinical drug trial to help SAC earn profits and avoid losses. Prosecutors said the total benefit to SAC was $276 million.
SAC, based in Stamford, Conn., has been touched by several insider trading cases in recent years, but there is heightened attention surrounding the Martoma prosecution. For the first time, the government has tied questionable trades to Steven A. Cohen, the billionaire owner of SAC. [Emphasis added.]

Steven Cohen
My crimes were far worse than those alleged in the indictment against Martoma. I helped mastermind a scheme that defrauded investors and creditors of over $500 million and my crimes left over 3,000 people unemployed.

So far, Mathew Martoma maintains his innocence and has turned down cooperating with federal investigators. Martoma faces arraignment on January 3, 2013. His chances at beating the rap are slim. Over 90% of federal indictments result either in a trial conviction or guilty plea by the Defendant. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has a perfect record tallying over seventy convictions with no acquittals in the massive ongoing federal insider trading probe.

If Mathew Martoma is in fact guilty as the indictment alleges and if he can implicate his former boss Steven Cohen, then time is running out for him to make a decision to cooperate with federal investigators. Potentially, if someone else comes forward and implicates Cohen before Martoma, he risks losing his best chance at avoiding a long prison term, because his value as a key witness would be diminished.

According to Fox Business, Mathew Martoma’s attorneys are charging over $1,000 per hour for legal fees and his former employer is footing the bill. That fact may provide a powerful incentive for Martoma not to cooperate with federal investigators. Likewise, for two years after being ousted from Crazy Eddie, my former boss Eddie Antar funded much of my legal fees as I was battling federal investigators. Finally, in 1989, I hired new attorneys who were not paid by my former employer and decided to cooperate with federal investigators.

My new lawyers, Anthony R. Mautone and Jonathan D. Warner advised me to come clean with the feds. I learned from them that quick timing and valuable information was the key to my future freedom. They told me that my duty to my wife and three children was more important than my loyalty to my cousin Eddie Antar and his immediate family.

Ultimately, the information that I provided federal investigators helped me avoid prison. I pleaded guilty to three felonies which carried a potential fifteen year prison sentence. Despite a much more lenient jail sentence recommended by former United States Attorney Michael Chertoff, Judge Nicholas H. Politan went even further and sentenced me to only six months of house arrest. In addition, Politan sentenced me to 1,200 hours of community service and I paid nominal fines and penalties totaling only $30,000. In my settlement with the victims of my crimes, I avoided all civil liability. I was able to avoid harsh punishment due to my extensive cooperation with federal investigators and lawyers representing victims of my crimes.

If the allegations in the indictment are true, Mathew Martoma’s only value to federal investigators is the potential information he can provide them about suspected illegal activities by his former boss Steven Cohen and others. Mathew Martoma has a lot of thinking to do and he’d better do it fast, because timing is running out. If he's convicted of the crimes alleged in his indictment, he faces up to twenty years in prison and I doubt that the feds will show him any mercy and give him any leniency.

Written by:

Sam E. Antar

Photo credits

NY Post: Mathew Martoma with his wife after indictment

Marketfolly: Steven Cohen

Disclosure

I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped my cousin Eddie Antar and other members of his family mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980's. I committed my crimes in cold-blood for fun and profit, and simply because I could. If it weren't for the heroic efforts of the FBI, SEC, Postal Inspector's Office, US Attorney's Office, and class action plaintiff's lawyers who investigated, prosecuted, and sued me, I would still be the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie today.

There is a saying, "It takes one to know one." Today, I work very closely with the FBI, IRS, SEC, Justice Department, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies in training them to identify and catch white-collar criminals. Often, I refer cases to them as an independent whistleblower. I teach white-collar crime classes for various government entities, professional organizations, businesses, and colleges and universities. More recently, I've helped the AICPA Fraud Task Force develop better methods for detecting fraud. I do not want or seek forgiveness for my vicious crimes from my victims. My past sins are unforgivable.

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