ASPEN, Colo. — Boyd L. Jefferies can't stand the possibility of having time on his hands.
The founder and former chairman of the Los Angeles-based brokerage Jefferies & Co. used to plant himself at the firm's trading desk at 2:30 a.m. and work straight through until 6 p.m. Now, banned from the firm and the securities industry, and living part of the year in this relaxed resort community high in the Rockies, Jefferies still compulsively gets out of bed at 2 a.m.
He tries to create for himself a schedule as rigorous and demanding as when he was one of the nation's most powerful traders of big blocks of stock and a pivotal figure in corporate raids. But in Aspen this hasn't been easy.
Jefferies, 58, was sentenced July 6 to five years of probation and fined $250,000 for the two securities fraud counts to which he pleaded guilty in 1987. He says he expected, and prepared himself emotionally, to go to jail. But the judge, recognizing his extensive cooperation with prosecutors and concluding that Jefferies is "essentially a good man," let him remain free. He still hopes, he says, to return eventually to the company--something the government may allow him to do when five years have elapsed from his guilty plea.
In the meantime, the feverish energy and organizational skill of the man who built a nationally prominent brokerage firm are being concentrated instead on the Aspen Junior Golf program. He has thrown himself into the free golf program for youngsters with a zeal that has astonished the local residents. Arriving in predawn hours to hand-water a new putting green or mow the junior driving range that he built himself, Jefferies has increased the number of children participating in the program by more than 400%, arranged to bus in kids free from a less prosperous community down the valley and organized national tournaments.
He devotes himself as well to a scholarship program for the children of Jefferies & Co. employees and is founding an athletics program for children in La Quinta, a low-income, predominantly Mexican-American community near Palm Springs. He has several personal business interests and continues to commute to New York to meet with prosecutors and testify in securities fraud trials. But this isn't enough to fill up his days.
Seizing the occasion of a reporter's visit, he hastily plans a dinner party at a restaurant--for 59 guests. At 5:30 a.m., hours before he is to meet the reporter for breakfast, Jefferies can't resist picking up the telephone and awakening a few invitees who hadn't yet responded.
Used to Early Calls
"I don't like to leave things hanging," he explains later.
The recipients of those phone calls were comparatively lucky. James P. Linn, Jefferies' attorney in Oklahoma City, says he has almost gotten used to the daily call from his client at 4:15 a.m.
Jefferies, despite his restlessness, seems in good spirits these days. He and his wife, Sharon, say they are surprised and enormously relieved that he isn't on his way to jail. In frank interviews over two days, Jefferies alternates between being contrite about his illegal actions and wishing that he had fought the charges instead of pleading guilty. He has a few words of criticism for the current top executives of Jefferies & Co., who were picked by him. And, even though he got probation, he bridles at suggestions that he got off easy.
"Let anyone who says that trade places with me for the last three years," he says.
Jefferies' world unraveled on Nov. 19, 1986, the day he received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The federal government had begun prosecuting former stock speculator Ivan F. Boesky, suspected of making at least $50 million from insider trading. Boesky, in turn, had implicated Jefferies. Jefferies had agreed to "park" stock for Boesky, holding it for him without disclosing its true ownership, then returning it to him without profit or loss.
After agreeing to plead guilty to two counts and cooperate with the government's continuing investigation of illegal practices on Wall Street, Jefferies agreed to sever his ties to the firm and be banned from the industry.
A Rough Period
This, his wife says, precipitated a depression from which he is only now recovering. "He really had lost any semblance of self-esteem," she says.
He has been cut off by friends and suffered the stigma of testifying against former friends and clients. He has been raked over the coals by defense lawyers during repeated cross-examinations. Even more painful, though, has been the forced separation from what for 25 years had been the consuming passion of his life: the trading desk at Jefferies & Co.
His reputation for reliability--and, especially, confidentiality--and his knack for finding willing buyers or sellers on short notice earned him the confidence of the major players when the corporate takeover game flourished in the early 1980s. Jefferies pulled off feats of trading machismo that still are remembered with awe on Wall Street.