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Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge fund manager convicted of directing a massive insider-trading ring, opposed a government request to unseal data about his medical condition, claiming it would only fuel a “media feeding frenzy.”
The public has no right to the information submitted to the court in a bid for leniency, Rajaratnam’s lawyers, led by John Dowd, argued in papers filed in Manhattan federal court today. Rajaratnam is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell Oct. 13
“The idea that Mr. Rajaratnam’s interest in keeping his medical conditions private must yield to the public’s prurient interest in such intimate details is absurd,” the lawyers wrote. “No defendant should be forced to choose between providing the court with medical information relevant to sentencing and making himself the subject to a salacious and morbid media feeding frenzy.”
Rajaratnam, 54, was convicted in May on all 14 criminal counts against him. Prosecutors said he gained $63.8 million by trading with inside information in 11 stocks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Intel Corp., Google Inc., ATI Technologies Inc. and Clearwire Corp.
The government is urging Holwell to give Rajaratnam, the co-founder of Galleon Group LLC, 19 1/2 to 24 1/2 years in prison. Rajaratnam’s lawyers, calling the government’s proposal “grotesquely severe,” asked for a sentence “substantially below” that.
Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on the court filing.
Prosecutors argued in papers filed with the court last week that the public has a First Amendment right to the information, which has been sealed by Holwell.
The government asked the judge to make public a letter Rajaratnam’s lawyers sent to him arguing for leniency based on his medical condition, a doctor’s declaration describing Rajaratnam’s illnesses, declarations from the director of a nonprofit criminal justice organization and a former Bureau of Prisons employee and two letters from Rajaratnam’s doctors to the judge. Prosecutors are also seeking to unseal a declaration they filed by a doctor for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and two declarations sent by Rajaratnam in response.
‘Serious Medical Problems’
In a memorandum filed with Holwell Aug. 9, Rajaratnam’s lawyers argued that the judge should consider unspecified “serious medical problems present to an unusual degree” in determining the sentence. Rajaratnam hasn’t disclosed the nature of any illnesses he’s using to argue for a lower sentence.
During jury deliberations in the trial, Holwell excused Rajaratnam from the court during part of jury deliberations, without disclosing any reason for his absence. Rajaratnam’s lawyers later released a statement saying he had emergency foot surgery to treat a bacterial infection.
The case is U.S. v. Rajaratnam, 1:09-cr-01184, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
--With assistance from Patricia Hurtado in New York. Editors: Andrew Dunn, Peter Blumberg
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