U.S. government backs early release for part-time Aspenite Bert Fingerhut | AspenTimes.com

U.S. government backs early release for part-time Aspenite Bert Fingerhut

Rick CarrollThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – Convicted Wall Street criminal Bert Fingerhut, after a failed effort last year to shorten his supervised-release sentence, hopes he can persuade a federal judge this time around. He also has the support of the U.S. government.Earlier this month Fingerhut, who served on Mountain Rescue for 18 years and currently is a member of the board of Aspen nonprofit EcoFlight, filed a motion asking Chief Judge James Ware of the San Jose, Calif., division of the U.S. District Court to consider trimming his supervised-release sentence by one year. The letter comes after last year’s failed attempt from Fingerhut, now 67, seeking leniency. While Ware, according to court papers, seemed open to the idea at the time, he later rejected it, based on the U.S. government’s written position that shortening the punishment “might result in sentencing disparity as compared to similarly situated defendants in other cases.”On Fingerhut’s latest attempt, however, the U.S. government is backing him, court records show.”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. On May 8, Fingerhut completed his second year of a three-year supervised release, which is an alternative to parole or probation. The release includes him reporting to two US. court officers who monitor his behavior, and he faces random drug tests and must get permission to leave his home state of California. He also was sentenced to two years in the Lompoc Federal Prison Camp in California, a halfway house and home confinement beginning in November 2007, but was let out in May 2008 because of good behavior. Fingerhut, 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.Similar to the letter he wrote to Judge Ware last year, Fingerhut again says he has learned from his mistakes.”While I know I can never make it right, I have deeply apologized and asked forgiveness from my family, friends and colleagues and, in my view, the risk of my ever engaging again in illegal and criminal activities is close to non existent,” he wrote in the letter to Judge Ware, which was entered into his criminal case file on May 3.The driving reason for his bid for early release, he wrote, is so that he can reapply for his emergency medical technician (EMT) certificate. His last EMT expired in 2008, and he cannot be reconsidered for a new certificate while on probation, he wrote. And while felons generally are precluded as serving as EMTs, consideration is given to them on a case-by-case basis, Fingerhut wrote.”My services as a volunteer was an important part of my life and something I have done for over 20 years,” he wrote. “I have always worked as a volunteer, mostly on the Aspen (Colorado) Mountain Rescue team. For a period before my incarceration, I also served on the California Santa Clara Search and Rescue Team. By being involved in these things I felt I made a strong contribution to others in my community.”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. rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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