Thursday, February 16, 2006

THE SCAMSTER'S BEST FRIEND: I've been spending so much time chronicling the hijinks of the naked-shorting conspiracy nuts that I've been neglecting the real thing. You know, actual, honest-to-gosh stock fraud, with real crimes and real victims and real perpertators.

A federal court jury in Manhatan today gave us a sharp reminder of the real thing, by convicting the former president of a New York company called Impath, Richard P. Adelson, on multiple counts of securities fraud. He faces up to 85 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 30.

Now, there was nothing really unusual about the Impath fraud. It was a straight-up, off-the-shelf case of accounting shenanigans, stock manipulation and lies. Impath proclaimed itself to the world as a fast-growing health care company, with double-digit growth in earnings and revenues that turned out to be smoke and mirrors. Everything began to unravel in July 2003. In just a couple of months the stock was down 88 percent, costing shareholders more than $260 million.

Now, if a stock today were to decline 88 percent, I don't have to tell you who'd gets blamed. Naked short-sellers, of course! Sure, the paranoid cranks of the Baloney Brigade were around in 2003, but were far less aggressive and brazen than they are today.

An Impath today would have the con men and charlatans of the Baloney Brigade in its corner, firing away. Sure, they're irrational. So what? They succeed in their primary function: to waste the time of everyone concerned and above all to divert attention from the real thing.

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