The Right Coast

September 19, 2005
Hard Time
By Tom Smith

Eight and a half to twenty five for Kozlowski and Swartz, formerly of the Tyco corporation. They were convicted in NY state court of looting about $150 million from their corporation. I have not followed the case closely enough to have an informed opinion on the justice of the conviction. As harsh as the sentence is, if they are indeed guilty of stealing that much, a harsh sentence is necessary to deter other corporate wrongdoers, or so it seems to me. Worse for the two, they will apparently have to do at least some of their time in a maximum security state prison. That's really bad news for them.

Here's something I don't understand. If you are the sort of person who would steal scores of millions from your corporation, why do you hang around to pick up your eight years minimum in the big house, where trying not to become Big Eddy's new girlfriend is going to be your next career. Why wouldn't you stash ten million in Curacao or someplace, and if need be, disappear onto some smallish yacht or quaint if somewhat filthy tropical backwater? K had a yacht and apparently likes sailing. True, it would be hard to leave behind wife and kids, whom you would see once in a while on visitor's day. But you really have to wonder if the Mrs. Looters will be there when they finally get out. I suppose you could say if he runs, he will be on the run for the rest of his life, and if he does get caught, and it's hard not to, he will never get out of prison. K, however, is 58, and ten years inside at that age is like 20 outside. It's hard to see he'll have much left if and when he finally gets out. I wouldn't loot in the first place, but if I had, I think I would just accept that it was the pirate's life for me, haul up the black flag, take my chances with the fair Spanish ladies, and not let them take me alive. If I ever come up for bail, I'm only kidding.