Tuesday, December 9, 2014

From the Bench

I don't usually read legal wordings from the bench. In fact, I don't read them at all. I did happen to be part of a case that went to Federal court that put me at the sentencing of a doctor for health care fraud. A hefty sentence was handed out, and in the judge's reading of the sentence he said to the defendant, "You have had a Faustian fall from grace."

Someone next to me, not a journalist, said that that sound bite would be in tomorrow's paper. The judge was William H. Pauley III, and it was October 2001. And indeed, the quote was on the front page of the next day's New York Times.

The trial was a bit of a celebrity health care case for New York. The doctor was a Park Avenue gynecologist and obstetrician with a busy practice of performing in-vitro fertilizations for women having trouble conceiving. He was highly sought after, having earned a good deal of success and positive notoriety in his field.

The only trouble was that Dr. L,. for some reason, thought it best to circumvent the insurance coverage, and where the contracts did not allow payment for such a procedure, misrepresent his services as something else, thereby achieving payment.

Dr. L. did this so often, and for so long, that he was collecting in excess of $1 million from a variety of regional health insurers. Exception was taken.

So, indeed his fall from grace was of Faustian proportions, and the judge sentenced him to over seven years. The prosecution appealed the sentence, and got more time added. Thus, Dr. L. spent a good deal of time in federal prison, before the final blow of being deported back to Denmark.

Every so often I'd read of a case and I'd see that Judge Pauley was involved. And so it was in Friday's Wall Street Journal that I read that U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III sentenced Richard Chichaki below the sentencing guidelines for his conviction on conspiracy and wire-fraud charges. Mr. Chichaki was a Syrian associate of an international arms dealer, Viktor Bout, and got five years in prison.

Judge Pauley, in his sentencing remarks pointed out that no one was even sure that it was Mr. Chichaki who stood before him. "Mr. Chichaki continues to be shrouded in mystery," noting that his passports were "so filled with immigration stamps that they looked like a sheet of Rachmaninoff's music."

The judge is clearly cultured. Well read, and poetic. He invokes the famous work of Johann Goethe, and the thunderous music of a Russian composer.

All this gives me an idea that I will never act on. If Judge Pauley can be so clever in his sentencing orations, then surely there are others who are good at it too. The judge himself, by virtue of being on the bench for so long might have by now compiled a book's worth of quotable phrases. A bound book, and therefore gift giving possibilities arise.

I'd love to hear Picasso worked into a sentence.


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