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Some 500 Letters Sent in Support of Quattrone

Many were written by the biggest names in the tech industry, but they did not seem to persuade the judge in sentencing.

September 13, 2004|Paul Thomasch | Reuters

In the months leading up to last week's sentencing, Frank Quattrone's friends, family and colleagues sent hundreds of letters to a federal judge in support of the former Silicon Valley star banker.

They do not appear to have done much good.

Last Wednesday, the judge ordered Quattrone to serve a year and a half in prison, well more than the recommended penalty, for obstructing investigations into some of the hottest stock offerings of the 1990s.

The letters are remarkable not only for the sheer number sent -- about 500 -- but because many were written by the biggest names in the technology industry, including top executives of California-based tech giants Cisco Systems Inc., National Semiconductor Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc.

Others, written by family and friends, paint a softer portrait of a 48-year-old man known primarily as a savvy financier who made as much as $120 million a year bringing start-up technology companies public.

"Please don't take him away from us," his daughter, who described him as "my superhero" and "my everything," wrote in one. "I know my life will fall apart without him."

Business associates also pointed to his family responsibilities and community service, while crediting him with being among the first bankers to foresee the technology bonanza of the 1990s.

"No other segment of the U.S. economy has flourished so vibrantly over the past three decades," wrote Charles Geschke, chairman of Adobe Systems. "Frank Quattrone made significant, critical contributions that enabled this success."

Martha Stewart, convicted of obstructing justice in an unrelated securities fraud investigation, also had hundreds of letters written in support, many from everyday people who had not met the lifestyle trendsetter.

Another letter on Quattrone's behalf, written by Robert Swanson, chairman and chief executive of Linear Technology Corp., described him as "a good man who has always been devoted to his family, the community and his work.

"My wife Sheila and I are both proud to call Frank and his family close friends," it reads. "I do not know the right or the wrong of what happened at Credit Suisse First Boston and only know what I read in the many newspaper accounts.

"However, I do know the enormously positive impact he personally has had on the launching of so many successful technology companies and their impact on the industry as a whole and the economy."

What happened at CSFB, prosecutors charged at trial, was that Quattrone hampered grand jury and regulatory probes into whether the firm had taken kickbacks from hedge funds in return for shares of the most popular IPOs.

They charged that Quattrone knew about the investigations, and yet still forwarded an e-mail urging his staff "to clean up" their files. A jury convicted him of attempted obstruction of justice and witness tampering in May.

Quattrone is appealing. His lawyer lost a bid to have the letters kept under seal.

At his sentencing, the judge who presided over the trial found that Quattrone lied on the witness stand and sentenced him to 18 months in prison, compared with the five months in prison and five months of home confinement recommended by the probation department.

"To say that he is a wonderful Dad is an understatement," Quattrone's wife wrote. "He takes her to school every morning, chaperons on school trips, assists with schoolwork, community service and Girl Scout projects, has dinner with the family every evening, and tucks her in at night."

Denise Quattrone goes on to say that her husband "has been known to paint macaroni jewelry" as well as "iron costumes for an entire Girl Scout troop" and often "functions as the sole parent due to my fluctuating health status."

Quattrone is due to surrender in October for his sentence, which is likely to be served at Lompoc prison camp, a minimum security facility north of Santa Barbara.

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