Skip to comments.Executive gets prison in stock, campaign case [Illegal contributions to Clinton and Torricelli]
Posted on 08/15/2002 7:42:53 PM PDT by HAL9000
NEW YORK - The former president of a defunct Hackensack brokerage firm was sentenced to nine months in prison Monday for making illegal campaign contributions to Sen. Robert G. Torricelli and former President Bill Clinton, as well as manipulating the prices of stocks.
Lawrence Penna, 58, of Edgewater pleaded guilty in October 1999 to illegally funneling $20,000 to Torricelli's 1996 campaign and up to $12,000 to Clinton's reelection campaign by reimbursing "straw donors" after personally contributing the maximum. Federal election laws limit individuals to donating no more than $1,000 per election, and prohibit one donor from reimbursing another.
Torricelli spokeswoman Debra DeShong said the senator was not aware of Penna's illegal activities.
"The Torricelli campaign has maintained all along that it had no knowledge of illegal contributions," DeShong said.
One of Penna's lawyers, John J. Bruno of Rutherford, agreed.
"He was naïve to fund raising and committed some technical violations," Bruno said after the sentencing. Torricelli "asked Larry to do some fund raising for him. He had no reason to run back to the senator and say, 'I paid them back.'"
Federal investigators who reviewed the matter closed the case in January without filing charges against Torricelli.
The Senate's Ethics Committee reviewed the investigation's findings. Although it "severely admonished" Torricelli for taking gifts from a contributor without disclosing them, its final letter made no mention of illegal donations that have led to the convictions of seven other Torricelli contributors.
Penna also admitted to lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission when it investigated stock trades by his firm, Investors Associates Inc.
U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska ordered Penna to serve nine months even though a presentencing report recommended six months and Penna's lawyers argued for no jail time because he has heart disease and a sick daughter who relies on him for care.
Penna also admitted that he and two colleagues from Investors Associates conspired to make $36 million in illegal profits by manipulating five initial public stock offerings between 1995 and 1997.
In addition to ordering him to surrender to authorities no later than Oct. 4, Preska said Penna will have to reimburse the full $36 million. Once he is released from prison, he will have to pay no less than 10 percent of his gross pay monthly as restitution.
Defense lawyer Ronald Fischetti, who represents Penna, said in court his client cooperated with federal investigators probing stock trading and Torricelli donations.
Through Investors Associates, Penna also illegally coordinated the prices of five IPOs, including one for Compare Generiks Inc., a Long Island drug distributor.
Torricelli's blind trust made a one-day profit of more than $50,000 investing in Compare Generiks, even though other investors lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the stock.
In an interview in 1999, the trust's executor, Matthew Gohd of Las Vegas-based Whale Securities, dismissed any connection between campaign contributions and stock profit. He said he had no idea Investors Associates had inflated the price of the stock.
If Torricelli had directed Gohd to buy the stock, it would have violated the guidelines for his blind trust. But Bruno said Penna dealt with Gohd on the transaction and that Torricelli was not involved.
"As far as Larry knows, the senator didn't know anything about it," Bruno said. "He would have no reason to protect [Torricelli] at this point."
Hint: Same reason corporate executives go to jail for cooking the books and senators, representatives, and government functionaries don't.
Oh no? He's dead meat if he talks. I'd call that a reason.
"Are you saying that Mr. or Mrs. Clinton lied?!"
What is worse is when the person questioning their honesty, usually one of the Republican "leadership", starts backing down.
Last night, Gary Hart was on Hannity and Colmes talking about 9-11. He said that we didn't need to blame either side for what happened. Any time a Dim says we don't need to blame either side, you can bet the Dim side is scared of being found out.