This is a tale of two defendants: Martha and Phil. One is a famous lifestyle guru, with numerous successes to her name. Her expertise and hard work have won her world-wide influence and respect. Martha was sentenced to jail after being convicted of lying about a stock sale. Through the media circus, reporters claimed their coverage of Stewart was about seeing justice done. Despite being imprisoned, she’s more popular than ever and is planning on a return to television.
The other, Philip Gurian, is described by court documents as being a member of the “New York mafia” who manipulated Wall Street. He essentially got away with it. Why was Martha an obsession of the media, while Phil Gurian was being completely ignored? Remember that Stewart was never accused of insider trading. Stewart was targeted by federal prosecutors looking to make a name for themselves and she went to jail because attorneys convinced a jury she lied to investigators. That’s all. But it’s a federal crime to lie about anything at all to the federal government, even though the feds can lie with impunity.
Before Stewart landed in the pokey, Phil Gurian was awaiting sentencing down in Florida. Years ago Business Week writer Gary Weiss identified him as one of the geniuses behind the mob’s incursion into sophisticated Wall Street investment scams. The phrase “mob on Wall Street” became famous and Weiss turned his investigations into a gripping book, “Born to Steal.” Swirling around the mob’s Wall Street financial crimes were murder, threats of murder, pistol-whipping of brokers, and Wall Street professionals too terrified to go to the police. But it seems most of the rest of the media were too terrified to take on the subject. They’d rather write about Martha.
The Gurian case was a great opportunity for the government to show its stuff, to make an example of those involved. But what was the outcome? Acting on a motion from a U.S. Attorney, a judge decided that the six months he served long ago for fleeing to Switzerland after a grand jury indictment would suffice. He was given a supervised release, meaning that he was free to walk the streets. An earlier court order for him to give up his upscale Boca Raton home and pay back $7 million dollars was struck from the record. Then the record was sealed.
So where were the media? Where were the tough prosecutors? Their complete lack of interest in this case belies their noble claims of being interested in seeing justice served.