Big money, short time

If you want evidence that white collar criminals receive far different treatment than your run-of-the-mill burglar or car thief, then check out the case of Norwich native Daniel Gordon.

Last time we checked in on Mr. Gordon he was headed to prison for bilking Merrill Lynch out of $43 million. Putting that in perspective, that's just about what it costs to run the city of New London for a year, not counting education.

Mr. Gordon, considered one of Wall Street's financial whiz kids when Merrill Lynch named him to head its energy-trading unit at age 23, pulled off quite the fraud on his employer. Mr. Gordon persuaded the investment firm to pay $43 million to Falcon Energy Holdings, a company he said was a subsidiary of a French energy company. Falcon, however, was a fabrication, nothing but an offshore account created by Mr. Gordon.

The scam was far more complicated, of course, but that was the gist of it.

So at 27, Mr. Gordon was headed off to prison, but not for long. After pleading guilty to three counts of fraud, he received a three-and-half-year sentence, but served less than two years and was freed from federal prison in November 2007. We suspect the burglar or car thief would face a longer imprisonment for stealing far less, and probably would find it harder to get a job after release.

As for Mr. Gordon, he managed to land a fine job, a managing partner with Rosedale Cooley & Co., a "diversified alternative investment management firm" with a Park Avenue address. He is living in an Upper East Side Manhattan apartment.

Alas, it appears Mr. Gordon could be in trouble again. His ex-wife, Laura Lesnik, claims he drew down more than $3.4 million on a line of credit that the separation agreement said was forbidden to him. The New York trustee assigned to Mr. Gordon's three-year-old bankruptcy case, claims Mr. Gordon used some fraudulent conveyances totaling more than $7 million to keep money away from creditors.

He "wasted no time resuming his fraudulent behavior," stated his ex-wife in a complaint related to the bankruptcy.

That's only an allegation, of course, which brings us to another thing about white collar crime - it can be tough to prove. But it sure doesn't sound like Mr. Gordon is spending his life trying to redeem himself, as he promised at his sentencing. Imagine that.

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