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Manslaughter in Manhattan: Wall Street’s Most Infamous Killing

M.A.D.D. doesn’t win all of them. Florence Cioffi was killed by a DUI hit-and-run on the evening of January 24, 2008. It took long enough for her to die for the death certificate to read the 25th.

Even with indictments for DUI, leaving the scene of the crime, and vehicular manslaughter, there was still a free pass for a Wall Street “Master of the Universe,” CEO George Anderson, got away with this drunk driving killing. Now the principals have resumed their careers with enhanced, expanding opportunities.

We have just passed the anniversary of this killing. She was trying to hail a cab after meeting with friends to set up a party for her 60th birthday. The criminal responsible was Enterprise Engineering, Inc.’s Chairman and CEO George Anderson. He admitted to DUI and to having left the scene of the crime, yet was able to arrange a “rich man’s sentence” of 16 days in Rikers and a $350 fine.

Here is “Nana”:


EEI is a Wall Street computer consulting firm. Deep connections with the like of Goldman, Sachs and Merrill. Anderson had just sold a beachfront home at the Hamptons for $6,000,000 so he was well set up for a legal battle. Problem was, the first prosecution team went to the Grand Jury immediately and got him charged with felonies: vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, felony DUI, and leaving the scene. The physical actions and the DUI underlying these charges were all admitted.

Evidence could not be suppressed. It had already been presented to the Grand Jury. Video surveillance showed that his Mercedes-Benz SUV was going 60 m.p.h. up Water Street. That is twice the speed limit.

Anderson refused breathalizer tests so detectives obtained a court order and had Anderson taken over for to hospital for a blood test. He was still pie-eyed. Obviously he had created the hazard.

ADA David Hammer went into court and dropped all of the felony charges despite the indictments. Hammer has reportedly been advanced within the Manhattan (New York County) District Attorney’s office. He now heads a team of prosecutors. He also teaches Trial Advocacy at Pace University Law School.

Back in 2008 and 2009 Hammer was assigned to replace the original prosecution team. He did what the top prosecutors wanted. Now in 2013 he’s got management track.

During the crash “Nana” was thrown in the air as Anderson gunned his SUV and took off. Here is a good summary:

Reflection on Death by SUV

ADA David Hammer was the one who said that “(Cioffi) probably stepped out from between two parked cars,” feigning ignorance of the multiple surveillance videos. Eye witness accounts had her trying to hail a cab.

Hammer also concocted a novel concept for criminal law of “proportional blame” as the excuse for offering Anderson 16 days and the $350 fine instead of the minimum 1 year sentence for DUI killings in statute.

So… if you head a Wall Street company you can go to a Rangers hockey game, get drunk, drive recklessly at twice the going speed limit, plow down an ordinary office worker. The system will take care of you.

Maybe some money changes hands, but if so that is not what matters.

Dickens had it right more than a century ago. When a system goes over into corruption, expect corruption. Summer of 1780, winter of 2008, or today: expect corruption. Indeed, how is this DUI killing different from Dickens’s carriage scene from “A Tale of Two Cities:

The complaint had sometimes made itself audible, even in that deaf city and dumb age, that, in the narrow streets without footways, the fierce patrician custom of hard driving endangered and maimed the mere vulgar in a barbarous manner. But, few cared enough for that to think of it a second time, and, in this matter, as in all others, the common wretches were left to get out of their difficulties as they could.

With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way. At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged.

But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not? But the frightened valet had got down in a hurry, and there were twenty hands at the horses’ bridles.

“What has gone wrong?” said Monsieur [the Marquis St. Evremonde], calmly looking out.

A tall man in a nightcap had caught up a bundle from among the feet of the horses, and had laid it on the basement of the fountain, and was down in the mud and wet, howling over it like a wild animal.

“Pardon, Monsieur the Marquis!” said a ragged and submissive man, “it is a child.”

“Why does he make that abominable noise? Is it his child?”

“Excuse me, Monsieur the Marquis — it is a pity — yes.”

The fountain was a little removed; for the street opened, where it was, into a space some ten or twelve yards square. As the tall man suddenly got up from the ground, and came running at the carriage, Monsieur the Marquis clapped his hand for an instant on his sword-hilt.

“Killed!” shrieked the man, in wild desperation, extending both arms at their length above his head, and staring at him. “Dead!”

The people closed round, and looked at Monsieur the Marquis. There was nothing revealed by the many eyes that looked at him but watchfulness and eagerness; there was no visible menacing or anger. Neither did the people say anything; after the first cry, they had been silent, and they remained so. The voice of the submissive man who had spoken, was flat and tame in its extreme submission. Monsieur the Marquis ran his eyes over them all, as if they had been mere rats come out of their holes.

He took out his purse.

“It is extraordinary to me,” said he, “that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses. See! Give him that.”

He threw out a gold coin for the valet to pick up, and all the heads craned forward that all the eyes might look down at it as it fell. The tall man called out again with a most unearthly cry, “Dead!”

He was arrested by the quick arrival of another man, for whom the rest made way. On seeing him, the miserable creature fell upon his shoulder, sobbing and crying, and pointing to the fountain, where some women were stooping over the motionless bundle, and moving gently about it. They were as silent, however, as the men.

“I know all, I know all,” said the last comer. “Be a brave man, my Gaspard! It is better for the poor little plaything to die so, than to live.

Charles Dickens considered France in the 18th Century to be a society where Law had ceased to function as an instrument of social justice.

Sovereign power had been handed over to the Nobles. The concept of “crime” had been placed into private hands for redefinition to suit their convenience. The Church had its own court system, but their high-overhead business model made them part of the problem.

America in the 21st century has similar processes at work. Our paranoid billionaires and the Dominionist religious fanatics dearly love it when their five-member majority on the Supreme Court makes new laws to protect their interests.

Social justice is castigated. Routinely.

The basic English Common Law concepts have been suppressed. For example, the New York Stock Exchange has protections as a federal Self-Regulated Organization (“SRO”) that are used to enable “naked short” stock sales. They sell what they do not own — quite freely — and manipulate market prices.

The major brokers are allowed to drive down the prices of any issues they choose to attack. They do not have to own or even borrow shares of the stock they are “selling” in their electronic trading blocks. Then they are allowed to default on delivery, voiding out these sales.

Everywhere else on earth these “naked short” sales are felony frauds. The big brokers do this in New York at multiples of 10,000 shares at a time.

Eliminating manslaughter and fraud make the day go more easily and more profitably for the outlaws of Wall Street.

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