Michael Kimelman didn’t have to go to prison. He could have accepted the late lamented Preet Bharara’s offer of probation and never seen the inside of the Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp. But Kimelman was convinced that he hadn’t actually committed insider trading, and naively believed that mattered back in the heyday of such prosecutions. And so he got to enjoy the mundane solitude of minimum-security prison life, filling the hours by writing an 800-page memoir entitled—in spite of his protestations of innocence—Confessions of a Wall Street Insider and since whittled down by 550 pages or so.
Kimelman already told us of how awful prison is, and how if the average American could just get him- or herself convicted of insider-trading and sent to one, they wouldn’t tolerate it. But allow him to expand on the subject:
What I now understand is that prison is about leveling everything, regulating everything, and wearing you down. What takes over, behind the barbed wire, is the mind-numbing monotony and depression — and all that time on your hands. It gives you an uncanny, unique ability to reflect on your poor choices, with no real distractions except getting through the day in one piece. Some cold evenings your internal monologue becomes the greatest punishment of all.
He’s also not too keen on the process that sent him to the pokey in the first place.
The grinding click of the cuffs was the purest articulation of fear and despair I’ve ever heard — and I knew it was the sound of my life being taken from me…
“You hear about the basic fairness of the legal system and then you go through the process and there’s this cognitive dissonance between what you hear your whole life and what you experience. It was an urge, almost a necessity, to put that to paper,” he said.
Post-prison life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.
Since he’s a convicted felon, Kimelman said, he’s precluded from “95 percent of the traditional jobs out there.”
Still, the optimism that led him to reject that no-jail deal hasn’t left him entirely, as he’s still hoping that eventually some court somewhere will recognize that, under certain appellate court decisions, he in fact is innocent of insider-trading.
“I’m hopeful the appellate court will look at my case, which is about the same as all those guys who had their cases vacated, and say, ‘Hey, this is identical,’” he said.
Mamaroneck hedge fund trader writes memoir in prison [Journal News]