Giuliani, Asher and F. Lee Bailey: Never Mind

ABC News has a new Rudy Giuliani tainted friends story, this one about Hank Asher, a one-time drug dealer who cooperated, found redemption (sarcasm) and made a $700 million fortune.

Asher, earlier in his life, had, by his own admission, smuggled plane-loads of cocaine worth millions of dollars from the Bahamas to the U.S. He later cooperated with law enforcement in an effort to end similar smuggling operations.

Since 2005, he has been Giuliani's partner along with the Mayo Clinic in Jari Research, a business set on finding a bone marrow cancer cure and making a profit. Self-educated, worldly, charismatic and larger than life, according to associates, Asher, a high school dropout at age 16, today is worth north of $700 million.

I don't think this is a worthwhile story -- or that it hurts Giuliani. Asher is named but not charged in the indictment of Orange County, CA Sheriff Michael Cardona because he gave the Sheriff and some deputies and their wives Cartier watches.

"On or about December 19, 2002, defendant Deborah Carona and co-conspirator George Jaramillo (assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo) accepted as gifts from H.A., a businessman who owned a data mining software company, yellow gold and diamond Ladies Cartier Watches worth approximately $15,000 each."

Buried on page 3 of the article:

There is no allegation in the document that he [Asher] attempted to influence any purchases or other decisions by the county.

I especially don't think F. Lee Bailey will be happy to be declared dead.

Asher's friends span the spectrum from Rudy Giuliani to Jesse Jackson and the late F. Lee Bailey. His business supporters have included Giuliani, Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. (my emphasis.)

As far as I know, F. Lee Bailey is still alive. [More...]

Also, it turns out Bailey was his lawyer in the early drug investigation. The article calls them "friends" and maybe they were, but there's nothing in the article to suggest they had more than a lawyer-client relationship.

His business associates include some of the same drug agents who years ago learned of Asher's smuggling when he walked into their lives accompanied by Bailey and began a campaign to convince other smugglers he knew to leave the business or face investigations and jail.

Former offenders should be praised when they successfully re-integrate into society. While I don't approve of Asher's turning in buddies to the feds, he sounds like he turned his life around and is now doing good for society.

There are enough Rudy scandals to go around to do him in politically. This isn't one of them and, worse, could play right into Rudy's hands by serving as an example of how he's a victim of unfounded media attacks.

The real Giuliani story this week is the one the Sunday tv talk shows ignored -- that his affair with Judith Nathan cost the taxpayers of New York big dollars and were dubiously billed to obscure city agencies.

< Another Sensitive Guantanamo Document Leaked | Guliani Turns Over Reins at Giuliani Partners, Will Retain Equity >
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    Bad memory (none / 0) (#1)
    by atlanta lawyer on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 03:32:39 PM EST
    The writer probably incorrectly remembered reports that he was disbarred.

    There is a lot more in this than the ABC article (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 03:58:25 PM EST
    puts forward.  Indeed, the apparent factual errors in the ABC article, properly criticized in your comment, may be a form of innoculating propaganda (by ABC for Rudy), to try to toss so much dust up into the face of the Vanity Fair article that no one can make heads or tails out of a very bad-looking (at least to this lawyer's eyes) situation for Rudy Cue Ball - his business practices.

    First, your points about prior offenders reintegrating themselves and such are both well-said and correct.  But, Asher is not one of the folks who just looks to keep a regular job after paying their debt to society.  And, IMHO a cursory or dismissive treatment of the Asher-Giuliani relationship may well overlook both character and judgment flaws in Rudy, and insights into the pay-to-play world he promises his wealthy contributors.  Which, I suppose, is a reason for bringing F. Lee Bailey (whose last appearance the vast majority of people will remember was in "OJ, The First Trial") into the story - pure irrelevancy.

    The Vanity Fair article linked to earlier today devotes a good chunk of its pages 2 and 3 (of 7) to Giuliani and Asher.  Excerpted from the article:

    Giuliani also failed to disclose his consulting contract with a Florida entrepreneur named Hank Asher when in 2004 he talked about him to a magazine writer who was profiling Asher. In fact, the writer was this writer, and the magazine was Vanity Fair.

    Asher was, and remains, a complicated, fascinating character. ...

    [He was the guy who first put together "Matrix" (remember that privacy-destroying system?) and later "Accurint". ]

    After 9/11, Asher had interested the Bush administration and numerous state law-enforcement agencies in acquiring Matrix. He had a problem, though: in his youth, he'd been a cocaine smuggler. Asher had come clean, and gone so far as to help the D.E.A. stop other traffickers. But if he was going to interest the government in his system, he needed some very heavy character references. Who better than Rudy Giuliani? (my emphasis)

    "The first time I met him, he did a demonstration for us at my office," Giuliani told Vanity Fair after Asher casually suggested the ex-mayor might talk about him. "When I saw it I immediately realized that this was a technology that would have been very helpful to us even when I was the mayor and putting together programs for reducing crime to help us find serial killers, abductors of children, and of course terrorists." Giuliani knew all about Asher's sketchy past, but he was all right with it.

    No mention was made, either by Giuliani or by Asher, of the contract Giuliani Partners had signed with Asher to promote Asher's company, Seisint.


    According to an affidavit filed by an outraged Seisint shareholder and reported by The Washington Post, the contract that Asher basically rammed through his board of directors in December 2002 called for Seisint to employ Giuliani Partners for two years at a fee of $2 million a year. Giuliani Partners also received 800,000 warrants with an exercise price of $10. The shareholder's affidavit declared that Seisint had received no financial benefit from the contract. (Both sides later agreed to settle the suit.)

    [(Ultimately) Reed Elsevier, the global information company that owns LexisNexis, bought Seisint in July 2004 for a reported $775 million.]

    The Seisint story demonstrated another Giuliani approach: working for warrants, which allow the holder to buy stock at a specified price any time before a specified date. The ex-mayor knew better than anyone the value of his name to companies trying to raise money or go public or score a big sale. Some of the publicly traded companies were penny stocks, trading for less than five dollars a share. ... Working for warrants had its downside, though. It put Giuliani in business with typical denizens of the penny-stock world--dreamers and the occasional scam artist--flogging long shots. It also put the ex-mayor in the position of appearing to sell his name and endorsement for cash.

    Selling his name and influence for cash is, at base, the same kind of pay-to-play Rudy's hustling claims as a virtue.  And hanging out in the world of penny stocks is hanging out in a sketchy-at-best neighborhood.  I'm not surprised to find Rudy hanging there.

    I'll go over and read (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 05:02:27 PM EST
    the VF article. I intended to after I wrote it up this morning but haven't gotten to it yet.

    It sounds better than this ABC story which was very disappointing. If there's more there, I'll be glad to revise my assessment.

    i'm kind of intrigued (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 05:22:59 PM EST
    by the concept of a "self-educated" guy doing bone marrow cancer research. this just leads to really disturbing mental images.

    the kingpin cooperates and the mules go down (none / 0) (#5)
    by txpublicdefender on Tue Dec 04, 2007 at 08:40:34 PM EST
    That's great that this guy who ran a multimillion dollar smuggling operation was able to turn his life around and make hundreds of millions of dollars "legitimately."  What a classic example of the upside-down nature of the federal criminal justice system.  The kingpin running the operation knows everything about it and about rival or complementary operations and so has plenty of information to give to the feds to get a drastically reduced sentence.  Meanwhile, the grunt or mule who may have helped load or unload one or two planes for a few grand gets slapped with a life sentence based on the entire amount of drugs smuggled in the conspiracy as a whole because, by virtue of his minor role in the conspiracy, he has no valuable information to offer the feds.  

    That's justice for you.