Judge releases part-time Aspenite Fingerhut from court monitoring | AspenTimes.com

Judge releases part-time Aspenite Fingerhut from court monitoring

Rick CarrollThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A federal judge has granted convicted money manager Bert Fingerhut’s request for leniency.A two-page order, signed Thursday by U.S. Chief Judge James Ware of the Northern District of California, noted there’s “good cause to allow for early termination of [Fingerhut’s] supervised release.”Fingerhut, 68, who owns an Aspen home and currently resides in Palo Alto, Calif., pleaded guilty in May 2007 to federal conspiracy charges stemming from a decade-long plot to make illegal profits by circumventing state and federal banking regulations to make lucrative stock purchases. Prosecutors said Fingerhut would illegally buy stock in mutual banks that were about to make their initial public offerings, and in doing so, cheated investors out of $12 million. As part of a civil lawsuit settlement with the government, he agreed to forfeit $11 million in illegal profits.Fingerhut served just six months of a two-year prison sentence because of good behavior, and last year he asked the court to cut short his three-year supervised-release sentence so that he could re-apply for his emergency medical technician (EMT) certificate, which he needed to work for such local agencies as Mountain Rescue Aspen, for which he had been a volunteer until his until his conviction. While felons generally are precluded as serving as EMTs, consideration is given to them on a case-by-case basis.Ware, however, denied Fingerhut’s request last year, based on the U.S. Attorney’s Office protest against any leniency. Supervised release is an alternative to parole or probation. It required Fingerhut to report to two U.S. court officers who would monitor his behavior; he was also subject to random drug tests and required to get permission to leave his home state of California.In May, Fingerhut again requested that the court cut short the release, after fulfilling two years of the three-year sentence. But this time, the U.S. government was behind Fingerhut’s wish. “According to the Probation Officer, Fingerhut has complied with all terms of his supervision and has paid all restitution and fines ordered by the court … the government has no objection to defendant’s motion for early termination of supervision,” wrote U.S. attorneys Melinda Haag and Nathanael Cousins, in a May 9-dated court filing. That was enough to persuade Ware, who noted that his ruling was made “upon review and in light of the government’s non-objection …”In 1983 Fingerhut retired to Aspen after making a fortune on Wall Street as a securities analyst. At one time he was director of research at Oppenheimer & Co. Before his conviction, he was revered as an environmental steward, and had been a board member of the Wilderness Society. In his letters to the judge, he expressed sorrow and regret for the crimes he committed, adding that “the risk of my ever engaging again in illegal and criminal activities is close to non existent.”rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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