A few weeks ago when we discussed Chapter 16: Plea Agreements, you learned how to cop a proper plea if you ever find yourself in deep slush with the Feds after (allegedly) trading on inside information. This week, we turn to another important aspect of any insider trading career: how to shred evidence.
In this chapter, we'll be looking at important track-covering actions like deleting text messages, erasing emails, getting rid of voicemails, and ripping apart USB drives with pairs of pliers. But before we get into a discussion about best methods of deleting and destroying, let's look at an example of worst practices in evidence disposal.
Take the case of these two fools: 34-year-old Donald Longueuil and 35-year-old Noah Freeman (both of who had once worked for billionaire Steve Cohen at SAC Capital; both of who were also reportedly fired from SAC for poor performance). Earlier today, the two were named as defendants in the Fed's latest insider trading case (if you're keeping score at home, that makes 46 recent Fed arrests in connection with insider trading cases, and 29 guilty pleas -- which I can only assume means that folks have been doing their homework and reading our career guide to the industry). The below excerpt, concerning a USB drive with some incriminating evidence, is taken straight from the Fed's latest complaint:
Freeman then remarked. "I don't see how you get rid of this s---," to which Longueuil explained, "Oh, it's easy. You take two pairs of pliers and then you rip it open ... and then it's just piece of ... So I just f---ing ripped it apart right there ... put 'em into four separate little baggies, and then at 2 a.m. … 2 a.m. on a Friday night, I put this stuff inside my black North Face … jacket … and leave the apartment and I go on like a twenty block walk around the city … and try to find a, a garbage truck … and threw the s--- in the back of like random garbage trucks, different garbage trucks … four different garbage trucks."
Okay, let's dissect this Laurel and Hardy-like bit of evidence shredding. First of all, Longueuil and Freeman were caught on tape. That is definitely a mistake. If you do feel the need to tell someone about your evidence shredding, it's ideal that you speak to this someone in the middle of a vast field on a dark and rainy night out of listening distance of all human beings, intelligent primates, and inanimate objects that could potentially hold wiretaps (note: do not rule out pigeons or low-flying gulls as being tap-free).
Second, the use of little baggies is unnecessary, as is telling your partner-in-crime what type of jacket you chose to wear on the night of your evidence shredding. Simply "jacket" is preferred, even "[insert color] jacket" is acceptable, but brand names can be kept to yourself. Remember, as a criminal (even of the white-collar variety), it's important to be quick and nimble; never waste time on the superflous (see Chapter 8: The Need for Speed).
Finally, Longueuil's method of disposal (garbage truck) was extremely risky, largely due to the possibility that when you go searching for a garbage truck into which to dump your incriminating evidence, you might not find one. For example, due to the record amounts of snow in New York City this winter, garbage trucks have only rarely been spotted in the five boroughs (in fact, more wild coyotes have been spotted than trash-removal trucks in the past month). As a result, disposal by fire is the most expedient method and, of course, the most thorough.
(Related: Career Guide to Insider Trading, Chapter 16: Plea Agreements)