The federal court in New York yesterday sentenced billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, founder of Galleon hedge fund, to 11 years in prison for insider trading. The 11-year sentence, while far less than the 24 years and 5 months sought by the prosecution, is the longest ever in an insider trading case in the U.S. This sentence is well-deserved, a sentiment that may appall my criminal-defense attorney son and former colleagues at the Prisoners’ Rights Project, but it is Rajaratnam’s naked dishonesty and greed, his fundamental corruption, that are appalling. Arguing for a lesser sentence one of his lawyers cited Rajaratnam’s charitable work, saying “Raj Rajaratnam has attempted to make the world a better place. If there is a ledger in one’s life, he should have some credit to draw upon in that ledger now that things have gone bad.”
Now that things have gone bad? This is not an appropriate situation to use the passive voice. Things did not go bad, like a bottle of milk left too long in the hot sun. Rajaratnam had education and wealth and affirmatively chose to be a criminal. He earned the shame and crushed reputation that are now his legacy.