Prosecutors seek medical disclosures in NYC case

AP News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2011 6:25 PM
Prosecutors seek medical disclosures in NYC case

The government urged a federal judge Thursday to force a one-time billionaire awaiting sentencing for insider trading to reveal the medical conditions that he argues should win him leniency.

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell in a letter to unseal arguments surrounding the medical conditions of Raj Rajaratnam so the public can know about the issue that could lead to a reduced sentence for the former hedge fund founder and ex-Wall Street darling.

"While everyone has a right to medical privacy, it is Rajaratnam who placed his medical conditions at issue by seeking leniency based on them," prosecutors wrote. "When a defendant makes such arguments, he waives his right to privacy, particularly if those conditions influence the sentence to be imposed in any way."

Rajaratnam, 54, of Manhattan was convicted in May of securities fraud charges after a jury reasoned that he made trades based on inside information provided by friends and business associates. Prosecutors said he earned more than $50 million in profits from his trades.

Holwell is scheduled to sentence the Sri Lanka-born founder of the Galleon Group of funds on Oct. 13.

The law firm representing Rajaratnam said in response to a request for comment that it will respond to the court filing with one of its own in a few days.

Prosecutors have asked that Rajaratnam be sentenced to between 23 1/2 years and 29 1/2 years in prison, consistent with their calculation of federal sentencing guidelines.

Rajaratnam's lawyers have cited his medical condition repeatedly in asking for leniency.

The government said in its letter Thursday that Rajaratnam's medical conditions do not warrant leniency because the U.S. Bureau of Prisons can provide adequate medical care and because Rajaratnam committed most of his crimes after he knew about the medical conditions. The government also said the need to provide deterrence and promote respect for the law called for a stiff sentence.

Prosecutors said the public has a First Amendment right to see the arguments from both sides over the role medical conditions should play in sentencing and to understand how the judge resolves the dispute.

In a footnote, the government cited an earlier court ruling on the subject in an unrelated case and said the public's access to sentencing proceedings would be meaningless if factors bearing on the sentence were considered by the court but concealed from the public through written submissions made under seal.

It also said Rajaratnam's medical conditions were "no more private or embarrassing" than numerous other cases, including that of a man whose ailments included diabetes and prostate cancer or another man who at age 71 suffered from late-stage colon cancer, skin cancer, diabetes and herniated discs that left him in constant pain.