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Citing His Cooperation, Boesky’s Lawyers Ask for Leniency

Times Staff Writer

Depicting their client as “a broken man” who has “paid a monumental price in public humiliation” and is likely to declare personal bankruptcy, lawyers for Ivan F. Boesky have asked a federal judge to sentence the former stock speculator to only a short prison term and at least 3,000 hours of unpaid community service.

A pre-sentencing memorandum dated Nov. 30 and released Wednesday by Boesky’s lawyers also includes 36 letters from members of Boesky’s family, friends, former business associates, employees and heads of charitable organizations. Most attest to his personal virtues and ask lenience from U.S. District Judge Morris E. Lasker, who is to sentence Boesky on Friday.

For instance, one came from Joseph Papp, the impresario of the New York Shakespeare Festival. Saying Boesky had financed a Shakespeare program for the city schools, Papp concluded: “As Marc Antony found Caesar, I found Boesky faithful and just in his dealings with me.”

Boesky pleaded guilty earlier this year to one felony count of conspiring to file false statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Lasker has already hinted in pre-sentencing hearings that he will sentence the financier to at least six months in prison.

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Boesky in November, 1986, agreed to pay $100 million in civil fines and penalties to settle SEC charges that he had engaged in widespread insider trading. The settlement, which also required him to withdraw permanently from the securities industry, file the lone guilty plea and cooperate with further investigations, stunned the financial community.

Might Discourage Others

The defense memorandum complements a similar document filed by federal prosecutors, who told Judge Lasker that Boesky had provided them with “unprecedented” cooperation leading to guilty pleas by former investment banker Martin A. Siegel and Los Angeles stockbroker Boyd L. Jefferies as well as pending investigations of “dozens” of other Wall Street figures. Both sides argue that a harsh sentence for Boesky might discourage other white-collar criminals from coming forward and cooperating with prosecutors and regulators.

Like the prosecution, the defense contrasts Boesky’s cooperation with that of former investment banker Dennis B. Levine, whose exposure as an inside trader first implicated Boesky. Levine, who eventually pleaded guilty to four felonies and faced 20 years in jail, received a sentence of two years. Prosecutors and defense lawyers both contend that Boesky’s help was more voluntary and extensive than Levine’s.

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Although Boesky had already been subpoenaed by the SEC when he volunteered his cooperation, the defense says, he had not produced any documents or begun testifying and as yet faced no grand jury proceeding.

Once he began taping conversations with colleagues to provide evidence, the defense contends, Boesky feared for his safety and government agents “were sufficiently concerned by the possibility of retaliation to offer him protection.”

Boesky has “forfeited virtually all of his wealth,” the defense contends, quoting his psychiatrist as ascribing his crimes to “an abnormal and compulsive need to prove himself.”

The defense proposal is for Boesky to serve at least 3,000 hours as an unpaid volunteer at the Community Food Bank of Newark, N.J., a nonprofit organization that this year will distribute some $15 million of donated food to soup kitchens, shelters for the homeless and other social service agencies.

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The food bank’s director, Kathleen DiChiara, said in an interview Wednesday that when she recently interviewed Boesky, she told him he would be expected to work in the group’s warehouse, sorting salvaged cans, loading bread trays and working side by side with teen-agers referred from drug rehabilitation programs and community mental health centers.

“It’s very much a roll-up-your-sleeves job,” she said, adding that she did not perceive the task as an easy alternative to prison life. “I’m not at all interested in making someone’s life easier through community service. Our warehouse is unheated; many prisons are in much better shape than the conditions we have here.”

“Encouraged Honesty”

She said Boesky was referred by the National Center for Institutions and Alternatives, a Washington group specializing in finding alternatives to incarceration in mental health centers and prisons.

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Boesky’s mother, sister, and wife were among those whose testimonials were attached to the sentencing plea. “He . . . encouraged truth and honesty regardless of consequences and always treated those he worked with fairly,” read a handwritten letter from his wife, Seema.

Others included the heads of several philanthropic organizations to which Boesky was a generous contributor in the days before his fall. One testimonial was written by Claude Lanzmann, the producer of “Shoah,” a nine-hour epic about the Holocaust, who said Boesky headed a fund-raising drive to finance the film’s airing on public television.


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