American Consequences - October 2017



Shortly after the arrest his prosecutors made the kind of sweetheart deal they won't make if they have a case against you... admit to a lesser charge and get probation instead of prison.

The trial took its toll on Kimelman. Emotionally, he felt knocked around, like a tennis ball at the U.S. Open. He overthought every statement, question, and comment. At jury selection, he was convinced he’d already lost the case, only to feel better after the opening statements. It was gut-wrenching. And then the court played the tapes. Traders speak fast and use a kind of “verbal shorthand.” The faster you trade, the more trades – and money – you can make. Kimelman realized the sound of two fast- talking traders speaking in code might sound illegal to the layman. And slides of his own profitable trades were shown, though they weren’t part of the case. The jury would look at him every time they saw a quick $200,000 profit. The wounds from the financial crisis were still raw. The case against Kimelman was based on one call the government didn’t record, and where they instructed the jury to speculate what he was told by an inside source. The FBI had no hard evidence to show, despite nearly two years of wiretaps, seven informants, thousands of instant messages and e-mails, and hundreds of body wires, including an FBI informant who sat next to Kimelman on the trading desk for two years.

The feds couldn’t point to a single illicit trade or comment that proved Kimelman’s guilt. In fact, they didn’t even call the wired informant at trial. The only witness who Kimelman’s lawyer called at the trial was the lead FBI case agent. The attorney asked her one question. “Can you show me one wiretap, one body wire, one phone call, one e-mail or instant message where anyone passed Michael Kimelman inside information and he traded on it?” After a few seconds of silence, she reluctantly answered, “No, I can’t.” But the gamble of calling a single witness didn’t pay off. The closing statement by the prosecuting attorney reminded the jurors of everything that was wrong with Wall Street... people losing their homes... the worst economic meltdown we’ve ever seen... and the Occupy Wall Street protest was only 500 yards from the court house. The jury’s verdict: guilty.

36 | October 2017

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