We are all familiar with the Wall Street fraudsters who nearly destroyed this nation in 2008, and the fact that virtually none of them has gone to jail.
We are also familiar with O.J. Simpson.
What they had in common was a ton of cash and no conscience. Sociopaths who believed that because of their wealth and connections, the rules of law didn’t apply to them. And sadly, they were right (although Simpson finally pushed it too far).
And now we have Jon Corzine and John Goodman.
Corzine, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Senator and Governor of New Jersey, recently headed up MF Global, a financial derivatives firm. The company stole client money to try to prop up its collapsing business. Of the $6.2 billion in segregated customer assets held by the MF execs, $1.6 billion is now missing.
“Let’s not mince words here,” says The NY Times Joe Nocera. “These executives committed a crime.”
Yet somehow the prosecutors are strugging to put together a case against them, saying they are “unable to find a smoking gun.”
The company’s lawyers are proposing that this was “totally unintentional,” an unfortunate oversight that occured when the MFs were scrambling to avoid bankruptcy.
Think about that. If you or I went into a jewelry store to look at watches, pocketed a Rolex while the jeweler’s back was turned and scampered out, how far do you think we’d get claiming it was ” unintentional?”
Yet somehow Corzine, with the help of his team of high-powered lawyers, has a better than fair shot at getting away with this crime. Ironically, Corzine helped pass the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which holds CEOs responsible for the misdeeds of their companies. Of course, this doesn’t apply to him. Right Jon?
But Corzine isn’t the only sociopath who may well get away with murder–this time in the literal sense. In Palm Beach, Florida, polo club magnate John Goodman is charged with vehicular homicide after drinking all night at an exclusive club, then running a stop sign and plowing into the car of 23 year old Scott Wilson. The collision sent Wilson’s car into a canal. Goodman strolled away, leaving Wilson to drown.
When arrested two hours later, Goodman’s blood alcohol was still at twice the level of legal intoxication. But now Goodman lawyer Roy Black, perhaps most famous for his successful defense of William Kennedy Smith on rape charges in this same county, is claiming that despite a $212 bar tab, Goodman left the club stone sober.
Black submits that his client only got drunk after visiting a friend’s house afterwards, when Goodman supposedly grabbed a bottle from his pal’s private bar and began drinking to “ease his physical and emotional pain.” Yep, only then did he decide to start drinking heavily before calling the police. Makes perfect sense.
What also made sense to Goodman was legally adopting his 42 year old girlfriend right after his arrest, giving her a large share of the more than $300 million trust he established for his two biological children, who are now suing him. Yes, an ingenious way to save millions for himself in the event that he is actually convicted in the wrongful death lawsuit.
But the chances of that happening get slimmer by the day, as Black and his expensive team pull stunt after stunt in the courtroom, dazzling and confusing the jury and overwhelming the prosecutors.
Goodman made a large cash settlement with Wilson’s parents just before the trail__ and news of the settlement was soon leaked to the press. Now Black is saying the leak taints the case because jurors will now be more likely to see Goodman as guilty. Gee, wonder who leaked it?
Anyway, as in Corzine’s case, it was a totally unintentional accident, says Black, despite all evidence to the contrary. And now it looks like Goodman may also walk away scot-free.
The moral of the story? Crime doesn’t pay! Unless you’re a sociopathic multi-millionaire.