Spare me because of 9/11

New York Daily News
By Greg B. Smith
September 25th, 2002

A corrupt Wall Street broker has pulled out the ultimate excuse in an effort to avoid prison - Sept. 11.

Former Bear Stearns partner Cary Cimino told a judge his trauma over being near the World Trade Center on the morning of the terror attacks should give him a Get Out of Jail Free card.

In letters to the sentencing judge, Cimino said he saw people jumping out of the towers - and was so emotionally overwhelmed that he couldn't possibly handle a single night in jail.

Cimino, who faces 10 years in prison when he's sentenced today for securities fraud, admits he escaped from downtown without a scratch long before the towers collapsed. But he whines to Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley that because of his "already critical emotional ill health, these events [of Sept. 11] have had an especially 'shattering effect.'"

Prosecutor David Esseks scoffed at the blatant bid by Cimino to use Sept. 11 to avoid prison. "While Cimino may benefit from psychological counseling and while he, like many New Yorkers, may have been significantly affected by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, those facts do not warrant any departure" that would reduce his time behind bars, Esseks wrote.

Cimino has admitted to securities fraud, money laundering and extortion.

His court appearance today seems far removed from 1997, when he was in a Wall Street Journal profile of up-and-coming bachelors. That piece, titled "Men Behaving Grandly," described Cimino's 2,100-square-foot upper East Side condo, 12-cylinder Mercedes and $100,000 watch.

Five months before Sept. 11, 2001 - long after he'd left Bear Stearns - Cimino pleaded guilty to involvement in a large-scale pump-and-dump stock scheme controlled by organized crime. He tried to cooperate with the FBI, but prosecutors decided his information was like the stocks he'd promoted - worthless.

Cimino - then out on bail - awoke Sept. 11 in his West Broadway apartment near the Trade Center. He says he saw people jumping, then fled his apartment and escaped uptown.

In his appeal to the judge, Cimino, 41, presented testimony by psychological experts.

Psychoanalyst Alvin Kulick said that Cimino suffered a dysfunctional childhood, was "traumatized" by incarceration after his original arrest and was pushed over the top by Sept. 11. Kulick said he was particularly worried about Cimino's dreams, which "took on a more nightmarish quality."

Kulick said Cimino "identified with the people who jumped. He was one of the doomed people jumping. He felt he was trapped in a deadly place, helpless, and could only escape by hurling himself out, even if it meant death."

Dr. Robert Goldstein wrote that Cimino was experiencing Sept. 11 "flashbacks.... Incarceration would be extremely traumatic."

Prosecutors argue Cimino should face between 10 and 14 years behind bars. But his lawyer, Valerie Amsterdam, said Cimino had already spent months in jail and shouldn't serve another day.

Complicating matters is a taped 1999 conversation at Sparks Steak House, where Cimino was overheard conspiring to have a suspected informant murdered. On tape, Cimino discusses having a gangster "put a gun in [the informant's] hand, put it in his mouth, pull the trigger, make it look like a suicide."

Cimino's defense was that he was just kidding around. His lawyer did not return calls yesterday seeking comment.


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