THE BLOG
11/18/2010 10:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Manicurist Hit With Corruption Charges -- Know What I'm Sayin'?

You ever wonder where so many popular but annoying sayings come from? How do these things even get started? You know? So, like, you know, just sayin', okay, okay, okay?

In any event, at the end of the day-- here's a fairly simple blog entry, which, just sayin', sort of speaks for itself, you know, just sayin', right?

A Nail-Biter of a Case

On October 28, 2010, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Chinh Tran, 41, of West Nyack, New York, had been arrested on charges of making corrupt payments to an Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") revenue agent. http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/October10/tranchinhcomplaintpr.pdf

NOTE: The charges contained in the Complaint against Tran are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

You could hardly miss this major story -- you know what I'm sayin?. Like, dude, the US Attorney issued this UPPERCASE press release trumpeting this massive crime and criminal enterprise:

ROCKLAND COUNTY WOMAN CHARGED IN WHITE PLAINS FEDERAL COURT WITH MAKING CORRUPT PAYMENTS TO AN IRS REVENUE AGENT

In any event, okay, so, you know, according to the criminal Complaint, Tran's 2007 Individual Income Tax Return was selected for audit by the IRS. The audit concerned, among other things, the amount of income that Tran, the owner a nail salon in Nanuet, New York, reported from a similar business that she owned in Grapevine, Texas.

Whoa dude, you know, like, this sounds pretty serious. This manicurist Tran tried to bribe the IRS guy. Wow, okay, okay, okay, you know what I'm sayin', right?

During the course of the IRS audit, the Complaint alleges that "Tran offered, and ultimately gave, corrupt payments to an IRS revenue agent,who, unbeknownst to Tran, was working with law enforcement."

Unbeknownst?

Lemme look that word up -- just sayin', you know, when they use fancy legalese like "unbeknownst" ya gotta know that there's something pretty heavy comin' down here, right? Know what I'm sayin' ?

In any event, you know, so, okay, okay, so, like, the Complaint alleges that Tran gave a bottle of liquor and $18,000 in cash to the revenue agent - with the intention that the money was for the revenue agent's own use - in exchange for having the revenue agent close the pending audit of Tran's income tax return and issue a letter to Tran indicating that no changes were proposed to Tran's income tax return as a result of the audit.

99 Bottles of Booze on the Wall

Whoa, for sure, giving a bottle of booze and 18 G's to the tax man is like, you know, heavy duty serious stuff, know what I'm sayin' here, right? According to the US Attorney, Tran appeared in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison and was released on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond, co-signed by one financially responsible person. If convicted, Tran faces amaximum of 15 years' imprisonment.

How Many Manicures Can You Get for $67.5 Million?

Okay, okay, okay, so like, I'm just sayin' here, like, you know, dude, how do you reconcile the case against that Tran lady with this:

Former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo to Pay
SEC's Largest-Ever Financial Penalty Against a Public Company's Senior Executive:
Settlement Permanently Bars Mozilo from Future Officer or Director Service
at http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2010/2010-197.htm:

In the Mozilo case, here's what the big guns at the SEC said:

[F]ormer Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo will pay a record $22.5 million penalty to settle SEC charges that he and two other former Countrywide executives misled investors as the subprime mortgage crisis emerged. The settlement also permanently bars Mozilo from ever again serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company. Mozilo's financial penalty is the largest ever paid by a public company's senior executive in an SEC settlement.

Mozilo also agreed to $45 million in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains to settle the SEC's disclosure violation and insider trading charges against him, for a total financial settlement of $67.5 million that will be returned to harmed investors. . . .

"Mozilo's record penalty is the fitting outcome for a corporate executive who deliberately disregarded his duties to investors by concealing what he saw from inside the executive suite -- a looming disaster in which Countrywide was buckling under the weight of increasing risky mortgage underwriting, mounting defaults and delinquencies, and a deteriorating business model," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement.

John McCoy, Associate Regional Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement, added, "This settlement will provide affected shareholders significant financial relief, and reinforces the message that corporate officers have a personal responsibility to provide investors with an accurate and complete picture of known risks and uncertainties facing a company."

But dude -- or should I say like, you know, SEC Enforcement dudes, how come that Tran lady is being criminally prosecuted and faces 15 years in prison and all ,but this Mozilo guy just seems to be able to settle with the SEC for bucks and some suspension thing? I mean, you know, like, okay, okay, okay, the manicurist gave the IRS dude that bottle of booze and a few bucks but like this Mozilo dude and his colleagues seem to have done a helluva a lot worse, know what I'm sayin; here?

Maybe Tran could get her alleged cash bribe and bottle of booze back from the IRS (they're not keeping that, are they?) and then pay a fine and agree not to given any manicures for a couple of years or so?

Anyone Do the Cost-Benefits Analysis on This One?

Then there's this other puzzler:

Rattner Said to Be Near Settlement With SEC in Corruption Probe
(Bloomberg, October 14, 2010)
at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-14/steven-rattner-said-to-be-near-settlement-with-sec-in-corruption-probe.html

Quadrangle Group LLC co-founder Steven Rattner, the subject of state and federal investigations of corruption at New York state's pension fund, is near a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission . . .

The proposed accord includes a two-year ban from the financial industry and a $6 million fine, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. In June, the SEC proposed a three-year ban, while Rattner suggested one to two years . . .

Rattner, 58, arranged to retain Henry "Hank" Morris, the former chief political consultant to ex-New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi, as a placement agent and paid him more than $1 million in sham "finder" fees, according to the SEC and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Rattner also is accused of setting up a DVD distribution deal for a movie produced by the brother of a pension fund official.

In exchange, Quadrangle, a New York-based private-equity firm, obtained $100 million in investment commitments from the New York State Common Retirement Fund, said Cuomo, who resolved a probe of the firm in April for $7 million . . .

Quadrangle also settled with the SEC that month, agreeing to pay $5 million. The firm neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing. The SEC postponed a vote today on the proposed Rattner settlement . . .

Whoa -- now I'm really lost. This Rattner dude only has to pay a few million and agrees to some kind of multi-year ban after engaging in stuff that the feds and local guys call "corruption"? I mean, you know, a sham finder fee sounds, like, you know, pretty bad -- worse than what that manicurist lady seems to have done. I mean, you know, did Tran's nail shop get a $100 million manicure contract because of the IRS thing she did?

Also, like, you know, am I like missing something here with this Quadrangle company -- they got $100 million from the New York State Retirement Fund but only settled with Attorney General Cuomo for $7 million and with the SEC for $5 million? That's like, what, $12 million versus $100 million? Anyone involved with this deal been indicted and forced to post that bail thing that the Tran lady did? How much jail time is anyoned with the corruption thing facing?

At the end of the day, you know, like, I'm just sayin'. Something here just doesn't make sense, okay, okay, okay -- right?