Nothing but Money_ How the Mob Infiltrated Wall Street - novelonlinefull.com
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"Even though I have had well-off family in Palm Beach, I've had to struggle and work my way up like everyone else," he told the reporter. "I'm a regular guy just trying to make it."
Sometimes he felt sorry for himself.
"I was an actor turned stockbroker and I didn't know what the h.e.l.l I was doing."
The more he thought about it, though, the more he felt he had no choice but to cooperate with the government. None of these guys were his friends, not even Cary Cimino, his former best friend. What sealed the deal for Warrington was the realization one morning that Cary would turn on him in a heartbeat if he were faced with the possibility of going to prison. And if Cary turned, Warrington was sunk.
In the room with Special Agent True Brown, Warrington told all about Cary Cimino-especially about Cary. He also told about Jimmy Labate and his guns and Sal Piazza and Jeffrey Pokross (whom he referred to as "the militant angry little gangster") and about all the stockbrokers and stock promoters involved in all the schemes. He told about the rinky-d.i.n.k amus.e.m.e.nt park that was behind s.p.a.ceplex Amus.e.m.e.nt Centers International and the ridiculous roofing shingle recycling outfit in Tampa called Reclaim Inc. Then there was the ludicrous ice skating venture, Beachport Entertainment Corp. They already knew about his goofy modeling agency idea that had been Discovery Studios Inc. He'd even had to admit to his embarra.s.sing nom de guerre, Johnny Casablanca, scribbled on all the bribe checks he'd cashed.
The idea was to stay out of jail at all costs. If they could use what he told them to make other cases and put other people in jail, Warrington might not have to join his former friends behind bars. He was inspired. He'd even tried to bolster his position by taping phone calls with Cary Cimino, the only one of his fellow co-conspirators who would talk to him after his arrest. He would call up Cary and complain about money and lawyers, and Cary would tell him to sell the Ferrari and as many horses on his family farm as he could ride out of the stable. All the tapes he made went straight to D. True Brown of the FBI, potential currency in Warrington's bid for redemption.
For months this had gone on. Warrington would take the train up to New York City, submit to one of these all-day sessions with the FBI and various a.s.sistant United States attorneys, unburdening himself of all that he had done. That was important. They made it clear he had to tell them everything. He even mentioned the tickets he'd gotten for running a red light and talking on his cell phone while driving. Nothing was hidden. In the white light of truth, Warrington was-perhaps for the first time-as vulnerable as a child.
He had still not signed an actual plea agreement. He had yet to testify in open court. He and his lawyers were trying to work out the details. The prosecutors told him little and made few promises, except to say they'd ask the judge not to make Warrington do time. The prosecutors needed him to take some form of punishment, and they'd more or less agreed that would be monetary. He would have to join his fellow conspirators in coming up with some form of rest.i.tution for all the old ladies in Wisconsin they'd ripped off. The figure being kicked around was $1 million, plus a $75,000 fine payable to the United States government for all their hard work. The prosecutors were certainly not Warrington's friends.
Clause by clause they were working it out. They'd hoped to sign a final plea agreement within a few months, if all went as planned.
Now there was this business in New Jersey. Warrington was vaguely aware that what he was doing was dangerous. Although he'd made a point to never ask too many questions of Jimmy Labate and Sal Piazza and Jeffrey Pokross, their inclinations were certainly obvious to him.
"Finally when they got around to paying you, you'd look at the people who were paying your commission and you knew. They're all proud that they're from Brooklyn. They get their nails done, they walk the walk and talk the talk. They're all John Gotti wannabes. That's what they aspire to. Do you know why Monitor was called Monitor? If you get beaten, you get put on a life support system. You're on a monitor. That's why it was called Monitor."
Somehow after he was arrested and the FBI offered to keep him out of jail if only he would help out a little, he'd felt the risk was worth it. As far as he knew, n.o.body was absolutely sure that he was cooperating. Now there were two guys dead in Colts Neck, New Jersey. If they were willing to do that, why wouldn't they come after him? When he'd been arrested, he'd thought that was pretty bad. When he was told he might have to cough up a million dollars in rest.i.tution, that was pretty bad. When he lost his ability to earn a living on Wall Street, that was as lousy as it could get. Or so he thought. Now Warrington found himself with two options, both lousy. He could pull out of his deal with the government and face the possibility of going to federal prison. Or he could continue in his role as a secret FBI informant knowing that soon enough, that role would be anything but secret. Soon enough Sal would know, Jimmy would know, Jeffrey would know, and Cary would know.
Once again, Warrington found himself unable to choose between bad and worse.
June 14, 2000
The morning of the big takedown FBI agents and New York City cops spread out across the five boroughs of New York City, ventured deep into New Jersey and fanned out across Florida. They picked up Jimmy Labate at his home in Staten Island, which was very convenient because they were able to stop right down the street and also pick up his neighbor, NYPD Detective Stephen Gardell. Sal Piazza they found in New Jersey, and Robert Lino they picked up in his native borough of Brooklyn. Frank Persico, the guy who shot up the computer, they found in Howard Beach, Queens. They were to be the stars of what Mary Jo White, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, would later that day call the largest securities fraud takedown in history.
The breadth and scope of law enforcement's efforts became clear at 8 a.m. when a federal magistrate unsealed not one but sixteen indictments and seven criminal complaints making allegations of securities fraud, extortion, death threats and all around bad behavior against 120 people. All five of New York's organized crime families-the Gambinos; the Luccheses; the Genovese, Bonanno and Colombo groups-all were named in the indictments. It took all day to bring all of them through the courts. They couldn't fit them all on a school bus.
In the top indictment, the one with the most gangsters, Robert Lino was listed as "Little Robert," not Robert from Avenue U. Sal Piazza was just plain Sal, and Jimmy Labate just plain Jimmy. Two names that were not on the indictment were Jeffrey Pokross and Francis Warrington Gillet III. Right away everybody knew what that meant. Immediately they all began thinking about how much time it would take for Jeffrey and Warrington to tell the FBI everything. Right away they realized that could take days.
Everything was there in one place-all the pump and dump schemes, the threats against uncooperative or simply clueless brokers who tried to put in sell orders, the bribes for the corrupt brokers and stock promoters, all the money wire-transferred to accounts on Grand Cayman. The prosecutors were talking about $15.9 million in losses caused to hundreds of victims all across America, most of whom were senior citizens so lonely they'd listen to the nice salesmen tell them about the stock that was going to make them rich tomorrow. They were only talking about a handful of the bogus schemes. There were probably thousands of victims, too many to count, between all the greed and avarice a.s.sembled in sixteen indictments and seven criminal complaints. They put out a chart with all the stocks the gangsters and their white collar cohorts had used to steal. s.p.a.ceplex alone netted $3.5 million in scam profits.
DMN Capital was called "the fraud magnet" at the center of all the scams. There was a chart for the TV people with little bundles of cash, and there was DMN right in the middle with arrows pointing off to Robert Lino of the Bonanno family and Frank Persico of the Colombo family. Robert's name was everywhere, and he was given the rank of Mafia captain while Sal Piazza was listed as a mere a.s.sociate. Jimmy Labate was listed as an a.s.sociate of both the Bonanno and Gambino families, and Frank Persico only made it to the a.s.sociate level, too. Some of these alleged gangsters were even listed as registered stockbrokers, including Frank, who also got his own nickname, Frankie. Detective Gardell was not listed as a member or a.s.sociate of any family and he didn't get a nickname, but his name came up quite often nonetheless.
One name that was on the indictment but was not mentioned at all during the press conference was Cary Cimino. That morning the FBI had gone to his apartment in the East Village and found no Cary. His sister had no idea where he was. None of his friends could help either. He'd just disappeared. Technically, he was a fugitive, until later in the day when his lawyer called up and said he'd arrange to have Cary come right away.
What the FBI did not know at the time was that Cary Cimino had somehow figured out the game was over and checked into a luxury suite at the Grand Hotel in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood. He put the $500-a-night room on his credit card. It was a strange choice. It wasn't walking handcuffed out of your apartment in the predawn darkness, but it also wasn't Mexico. It was, instead, a place to buy time. Since Cary had run up so much debt and used up so much goodwill, there wasn't a whole lot else that he could buy.
They came from across America. They were extremely wealthy or moderately wealthy or not wealthy at all. Many were elderly citizens who'd saved up their money and were happy to get free advice on what to do with it. They lived in Stamwood, Washington, and Middle Village, Queens. There were investment partnerships based in London and Switzerland, and there were retired postal workers and school-teachers. They all had one thing in common: they'd thought they were investing their money in the stock market that was carefully regulated and policed for fraudulent activity. They gave up their money believing that they would make even more, and perhaps quickly. They did so willingly. They wanted to get rich quick. They got screwed instead.
Anil Deshumukh, retired electrical engineer. He bought s.p.a.ceplex and other stocks through a broker relatives recommended.
"I never saw him. I'm in Philadelphia, and he's in New York. Over the phone he sounded all right. For every wiseguy, there's a sucker. I'm not experienced in stock. He tells me, 'You're going to make thousands of dollars on these shares. It's going to go up dramatically.' Some stocks did . . . He forced me. He kind of pressured me to buy stocks. Those people who were involved kind of cashed out. The stock went up, and they sold off, and my stock was worthless. And he said, 'Why don't you take it as a tax loss?' He was telling me that the stock is going to go up so high and you will make thousands of dollars. And then he said I don't know why it is going down. Then I found out later this was what you call a pump and dump scheme.
"The thing is, looking back, always you can see the con. But even at present, there are cons you cannot recognize. Years from now, I'll probably see it's a scheme, but I don't know it at the moment. The stocks started collapsing. He kept on saying it's going to go up, it's going to recover. But it went down so quickly it was hopeless. I suspect he did [unauthorized trades]. I'm not familiar with stocks. I was going not to trade any stocks and sell them and get my money back. Once when I called back, somebody else picked up the phone. They told me this is what happened [to my broker], that somebody killed him. The guy I talked to he told me what stocks I owned, and I had no idea I had these stocks. I said I never owned them. I was sick at the time. This new guy, I told him to sell, to close the account. And that was the end of it. I lost $10,000 to $15,000.
"Shame on me for being a fool. It's not a question of me making easy money. It was taking advantage of your trust. I wasn't looking to become a millionaire or such, but I wasn't expecting outright fraud like that."
Dr. Leonid Rubinov, New Jersey dentist: "The call was when the market was going up and you got a lot of calls. For some reason he talked me into something, into investing with him. One transaction was successful and then, not only did they overcharge me on commissions and everything else-they put in illegal transactions so I end up losing thousands of dollars. They told me it was just a mistake but then it wasn't corrected for so long."
Bill Bernard, retired lawyer from a small town in Minnesota: "I'd been in and out of the stock market for years. I was never a big investor. I was a real estate lawyer in the 1960s. I didn't have brokerage accounts. Then in the 1990s I thought I was going to retire so I started selling everything. Of course the 1990s were kind of an upside for stocks and I didn't know what to do with my money, so I put it in stocks. And oh boy! I took a bath . . . One broker, he would belittle you if you didn't take his recommendation. These guys are so pompous, they say they're executive vice president of the firm. Others brag about how much money they're handling for well-known people and they get your confidence . . . [Another broker] promised the moon and this is where I guess personal greed comes in. But he always had a story that I guess wasn't true. None of it was investment grade . . . I imagine that I lost $1 million and I never had $1 million. I was just a small town lawyer. I bought older buildings downtown, fixed them up and rented them out. Corporate America and the stock market are filled with thieves and the Mafia and everything else. I wish I had never got out of real estate. It didn't appreciate but at least you can see it . . . These guys would never have contacted me except that the Bank of Minnesota sells lists of customers. I'm out here in small town America. How else are they gonna find me? I'm on somebody's list. We've got a lot of people selling lists and that's why I won't fill out anything anymore . . . I don't take cold calls anymore, and if I get one, I give them holy h.e.l.l." Bernard filed a complaint with the NASD in 2000. A year later a settlement was entered: $85,948 in compensatory damages, $17,905 in interest and $69,235 in attorney's fees. "Nothing's been paid on that award and nothing ever will."
Manny Pragana, retired from his job working maintenance at the post office. He put the family's savings-$45,500-into stocks. "I'm a World War II veteran, Battle of the Bulge, kid. This guy, he said that the people in East Ches ter invest with him, everything would be in good shape. We have nothing to worry about. He said he had people in Westchester investing with him. And I listened to him. I got sick from this. What are you gonna do? You live and learn. You know how it is. They tell you it's a sure thing . . . What can I do now? They said if we had to go into court, we would have had to pay the lawyer's fees. I said nothing doing. Before these lawyers took over, if we got anything, they got a third. We went to arbitration way down there in New York. I went there so many times, and we lost out. What are you gonna do?"
Five days after the big takedown Cary Cimino surrendered at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lower Manhattan with his lawyer. He was held overnight at the Metropolitan Detention Center a block away, a dark and foreboding place where Cary immediately started complaining about the mild case of glaucoma he'd suffered from in recent years. When he showed up in court to request bail the next day, he was shocked to hear a young prosecutor named Patrick Smith request that Cary be detained without bail. By now he knew quite a lot about what he was facing, but all the charges he was facing were white collar. There were no murders, no broken arms. Just money stolen. He was aware that Jeffrey Pokross had been cooperating for years and that he'd recorded hours and hours of tape inside DMN and who knows where else. He knew that the amount the feds considered to be stolen profits was in the millions and that he could be held responsible for some of that. He knew that this was not going to be a repeat of 1996, when he'd seen all the charges against him dismissed within a month. But he figured he could get bail.
Prosecutor Smith stepped forward and asked the magistrate if he could play a tape recording made by an informant. He didn't name the informant, but Cary knew right away it would have to be Jeffrey. Prosecutor Smith explained in earnest that the tape would show how Cary Cimino was a danger to the community. He plunked in the tape, and soon Cary heard his own voice fill the room.
"Put a gun in his hand, put it in his mouth," Cary heard himself say. "Pull the trigger and make it look like suicide."
It was all a big misunderstanding, his lawyer argued. Had anything come of this idle threat made in conversation at Sparks Steakhouse with crowds of people all around? No. Of course not. Cary Cimino wasn't capable of hurting a fly, never mind a stockbroker who was at one time his best friend. The only individual Cary presented a danger to was himself. Mostly Cary needed the judge to know how his eye problems were getting worse inside the prison where, his lawyer argued, conditions were simply unacceptable.
Back and forth they went, with Prosecutor Smith insisting that Cary really did mean to have Francis Warrington Gillet III murdered by a gangster, and Cary's lawyer insisting it was just macho hyperbole by an insecure guy. The judge pushed for a compromise, and the prosecutor came up with extreme bail conditions for someone accused of nonviolent criminal activity: a $2 million bail bond backed by three people who would consider Cary to be a responsible person. Plus he'd have to remain confined all the time to his home in the Village, wearing an electronic monitoring device and staying away from securities deals, real or proposed. Cary's lawyers agreed to the requirements and promised to make the arrangements right away. Cary wondered where he was going to find three people to help him get out of jail.
November 13, 2002
Francis Warrington Gillet III, great-grandson of the World War I flying ace, son of the Palm Beach playboy, father of Francis Warrington Gillet IV, former owner of a red Ferrari, stood before a judge to receive his due. It was late on a Wednesday afternoon, a miserable day of rain after a miserable week of rain. Warrington had just turned forty-four the month before and now he was about to learn from a stranger-United States District Court Judge John G. Koeltl-whether he'd have to spend any time inside a federal prison. He was beyond nervous. He was nearly insane with fear.
After all this time, it was still difficult for him to see that where you are is mostly a function of who you are. Standing in the federal courtroom in lower Manhattan with the rain pattering at the window, Warrington couldn't possibly explain why he was there. All he could hope to do was tell the judge it was his fault and hope for the best.
When he'd stood before this same judge and pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges two years earlier, Judge Koeltl had asked him straight out, "Mr. Gillet, are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty?" He had answered in the affirmative because you had to. The judge wouldn't accept the plea otherwise. Even as he said those words, Warrington was still at that point where he wasn't sure if he had really done anything wrong other than try to make a living in a difficult and greedy world. He'd merely said what he was supposed to say.
Today was different. Today he had to be sincere. He had to let the judge know that what he now felt was not mere regret but true remorse. It would not be easy. As he stood there with the prosecutor and his lawyers and not a single family member present to hear his words, he knew that his ability to convince the judge to keep him out of prison would be the result of two people in his life.
The first was Cary Cimino. The first time he learned of Cary's repeated discussions about giving him a dirt lunch, he was stunned into silence. He knew Cary liked to spout off, but he couldn't believe he would go that far. When he actually heard the tape of Cary's chat with Pokross at Sparks Steakhouse, he was even more upset. There was his former best friend going on and on about putting the gun in his hand and putting the gun in his mouth and so on. His sense of betrayal was profound.
By now Warrington had made several public appearances as a snitch. He'd finally resigned himself to going public with his status as an FBI informant after the U.S. attorneys he was dealing with made it clear that if he didn't, he would, in fact, go to prison. They would make sure of it. Warrington came to understand that U.S. attorneys really dislike guys who promise to help and then change their minds.
In one of his public appearances, the U.S. attorney had him come to court to testify against Cary Cimino. They were playing the Sparks tape for the judge to make sure that Cary would go away for many years. Warrington had come to court and sat in an anteroom knowing that Cary was sitting next door, learning his fate. The prosecutors were more or less sick and tired of Cary Cimino. Cary himself had briefly offered to be a cooperating witness and testify against anyone he'd ever met. They listened and wrote down everything he said, and he'd promised to plead guilty and even did. But it hadn't worked out. Ultimately they didn't need him, and now he and his lawyer were doing everything they could to spread blame and mitigate punishment.
At one point, Cary even tried to use the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as a means of staying out of jail. He'd been several neighborhoods above the twin towers when the planes struck on September 11, 2001, but claimed he'd been traumatized by the whole event. So traumatized, he whined, that going to jail would likely push him over the edge. The judge listened to this, than heard the prosecutors say they wanted Cary in prison for fourteen years. For a white collar crime, this was a significant amount of time. The prosecutors offered to play the Sparks tape again, but the judge really didn't need to hear it. He gave Cary a small lecture and sentenced him to ten years in prison while Warrington sat in the room next door.
Now Warrington sat before another judge as his lawyer, Philip Pitzer, talked about the education-in fact, the transformation-of Warrington.
"And I can say to the court that the Warrington Gillet who is before this court today is not the same Warrington Gillet that I started representing five years ago," Pitzer said.
It was true. The Warrington Gillet busted by the FBI had truly believed for quite a while that anybody but Warrington Gillet was to blame for his troubles. Cary Cimino was to blame for misleading him. Jeffrey Pokross was to blame for involving the gangsters without asking Warrington's permission first. Jimmy Labate was to blame simply for being Jimmy Labate. Pitzer the lawyer admitted that, even when Warrington had entered his plea and the judge had asked him that question about whether he was really guilty, Warrington wasn't so sure.
"He was rationalizing his conduct and was unable to accept the fact that he had committed violations of criminal law. He was in such denial that even by the time he was standing before this court entering his plea, I know that word 'guilty' was hard for him to speak. I know that articulating for the court exactly what he had done of a criminal nature was difficult for him to do, even though it was true."
Pitzer went on about Warrington being embarra.s.sed, humiliated and-most important-"willing to accept full responsibility for the conduct that he entered into and accepting the fact that he and he alone is to blame for the consequences of that conduct."
He described Warrington as "a young man who was born, frankly, of privilege. A young man who was blessed with so many extraordinary, G.o.d-given gifts, is now forever branded a felon. That will never change. This experience, without a doubt, has been the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to Warrington Gillet."
It was certainly true that Warrington had come a long way to arrive at this place. He had absolutely started with more than most. He had the prep school pedigree. He went off to Villanova and could have, if he had chosen to do so, picked up a college degree. Instead he chose to quit college and try acting. He chose to quit acting to pick stocks. He chose to work with the likes of Jeffrey Pokross and Sal Piazza and Jimmy Labate and Cary Cimino and, without even knowing it, Robert from Avenue U. Now look at them. Jeffrey Pokross had become an FBI informant and was in the witness protection program. So was Sal Piazza. Jimmy Labate had pleaded guilty to securities fraud and extortion charges and was off to federal prison. Even Robert Lino-Robert from Avenue U-had pleaded out and taken his punishment-eighty-three months in prison. Cary Cimino got it worse than anybody-ten years.
In a way, Warrington was just like them. They all cut corners and got caught, then had their own explanations for how they ended up in such a mess. Here he was, a wealthy man living in a country that believed it was the guiding light for the entire world. He was born into money and began his journey believing that he could have pretty much anything he wanted because, well, he just could. He had not realized until much later that it was all his to lose.
The lawyer reminded the judge of the hefty packet of letters sent by the many influential and respectable friends and family of Warrington Gillet. There was a letter from his mother and a letter from his uncle, a United States senator, and even his ex-wife.
Jason Sabot, the a.s.sistant United States attorney, a young man bearing the standard phlegmatic demeanor required by the United States Justice Department of all its employees, stood and squared his paperwork. He was there to make the case to keep Warrington out of prison. He made it clear that Warrington's a.s.sistance had been crucial to the federal prosecution of the mob on Wall Street case because his testimony had provided a key to a crucial first door that allowed them convince others to cooperate and open all the doors necessary to bring an effective indictment that inspired nearly everyone charged to plead guilty. By the date that Warrington faced his sentence, more than sixty defendants had pleaded guilty to various charges. A handful had gone to trial and been acquitted, but in all those cases it was Jeffrey Pokross who'd been the star witness-not Warrington Gillet. Warrington had offered what Sabot called "substantial a.s.sistance"-the key phrase to obtaining leniency from federal judges.
Plus, Prosecutor Sabot noted, Warrington had promised to contribute to the $1 million in rest.i.tution owed by multiple defendants who'd been convicted and now needed to reimburse some of the people they'd ripped off. It helped, perhaps, that Warrington's customers had not been mom and pop investors from Weehawken, but were instead international banks and other inst.i.tutional investors that had, in some cases, partic.i.p.ated in the scheme. And he had agreed to pay a $75,000 fine, even though he was to be, for a time, barred from the securities industry and would have to come up with another means of paying that one off.
And then it was time for Warrington to speak. The judge said, "I'll listen to you for anything that you wish to tell me in connection with sentence, any statements that you'd like to make on your own behalf, anything at all you'd like to tell me."
No more hired guns, no more delay. Warrington stood up, arranging and rearranging papers on the table before him.
"Obviously I have a lot of thoughts on this," he said. "My life has been through so much."
He opened with remorse.
"I would like to apologize to those persons that suffered as a result of my bad choices and my greedy choices, and I would like to apologize to the victims of my schemes. I apologize to my family, my wife, my son. I apologize to the court. I apologize to the a.s.sistant U.S. attorneys who have worked with me for the last five years."
He was just warming up.
"I'm in total embarra.s.sment, disgrace, total humiliation. I could never have been beaten down lower as a human being. What a catastrophic lesson to learn. I'm shocked, and I had it coming."
He veered back to shifting blame. He picked the usual target-his upbringing.
"I don't know. It was probably something since childhood that had evolved. My parents were divorced when I was three, so I kind of grew up myself, sort of under the trappings that both of those persons provided for me with who they remarried, so I was always on this mission to acquire. They led a well-to-do lifestyle, but it wasn't mine. But I just did what I could do to keep up, to win their approval. And the journey took me through life and I ended up being a stockbroker and it was the first time I started to make money."
Here he was back with Cary Cimino on New Year's Eve on St. Bart's. It was a thousand years ago, a lifetime. His crossroads. His date with the devil.
"People looked at me like I was a good person. It led me into an engagement and then I was, I suppose, confronted with temptation and the temptation was 'Here's some money in front of you, do you want it?' And it kills me that I said yes, and it nearly killed me. And if Jeffrey Pokross was not a cooperator for the government, I would have been killed."
Now he brought up his child, Francis Warrington Gillet IV. It might seem a bit unseemly to bring up one's offspring in an effort to escape punishment, but it would also be fair to say that Warrington appeared to be truly moved by the fact that he had a child to raise. The idea that he was supposed to be a role model for another human being had certainly changed him. Not completely, but enough.
"These greedy choices I made at the time I didn't have a child, but this child would have grown up without a father. I mean, what a catastrophic lesson to be given to somebody." And then he began to drift. "And I've had every day since I first came into this building to reflect on that and to try to put the pieces of my life back together." He made a point to remind the judge of the "mercy of the court," and ended by requesting "another chance to prove myself, you know? That I can be a good person and a good father."
"Thank you," he said, and he did not sit down. He just stood there, pushing the papers around in front of him, waiting.
In the federal system at this time, defendants faced a range of years in jail based on a complex mathematical formula known as "the guidelines" that took into account the offense they were convicted of, their prior criminal history and several other outstanding factors such as how much money you stole. If you stole a lot-as Warrington did-you could get extra time in prison. The best way to reduce that range of years was to cooperate with the prosecutors, who would then be inspired to ask the judge to reduce the sentence. But all they could do was ask. The judge had the final say, and in this case, the guidelines required that Warrington receive a sentence of fifty-one to sixty-three months. That could mean five years and three months inside a federal prison somewhere out there in America. That could mean an orange jumpsuit and mixing it up in the yard with the other nonviolent miscreants-the corrupt cops, the fallen CEOs, the drug mules, the tax cheats.
The judge asked the prosecutor if there was anything else he needed to say, and they went back and forth about the peculiarities of rest.i.tution and whether any of the trivial facts placed on the record in the probation department's pre-sentence report were accurate and fair, and it was all excruciating for Warrington. He needed resolution. He needed a final word. He needed to know right away just how bad it was going to be.
Judge Koeltl, in methodic monotone, began his important monologue in this little bit of theater. Right away, Warrington heard the magic words he was hoping for-"substantial a.s.sistance."
"It is plain that the defendant has provided substantial a.s.sistance in the investigation and prosecution of others," Judge Koeltl said. "The cooperation helped in the return of two indictments against numerous defendants. The defendant in this case was prepared to testify and did provide extensive cooperation. His a.s.sistance was truthful, reliable and prompt."
Judge Koeltl even took note of the threat to Warrington's safety implied by Cary Cimino's ultimately empty threats at Sparks Steakhouse.
"It is clear that the defendant's cooperation brought with it a risk of significant personal danger, which raises the credit that should be given the defendant in this particular case."
And then, more than five years after the FBI woke up Warrington from a deep sleep in his Central Park West apartment, Judge Koeltl cut Warrington the break of his life.