Steal $780,000, pay back half, and get only a year in prison?
An angry Manhattan judge put the kibosh on that deal today for a low-level stockbroker who allegedly tricked Wall Street titan Merrill Lynch into thinking he was the next Gordon Gekko — showering him with a fat salary and loan package on the day they hired him last year.
Bachelor broker Steven Mandala, 29, barely worked a day at his allegedly undeserved, new job, instead buying himself a $245,000, red, 2006 Ferrari and vamoosing.
Today, Mandala and prosecutors walked into Manhattan Supreme Court with an agreement that if he pays back half of the money — including forfeiting the Ferrari — he could go to prison for as little as one to three years.
Not good enough, said Justice Carol Berkman, who at one point sarcastically interrupted Mandala’s lawyer by saying, “I’m sorry I interrupted you while I was talking.”
“You steal money, you give it back, and you avoid prison?” Berkman asked, incredulously, of the proposed deal. “I don’t get it.”
Mandala should spend at least three years in prison, she said, nixing the deal and adding that she couldn’t imagine Merrill Lynch would be happy with less either. The “crockbroker” had told Merrill Lynch he managed $300 million in client assets and earned $765,000 as a “partner” at Maxim Group, where he’d actually just worked as a $100,000 a year mediocrity, prosecutors had charged.
Mandala’s lawyer, Frank Rothman, defended the original deal, in which his client would plead guilty to a top charge of grand larceny.
Mandala is still on the hook civilly for the other half of what he allegedly took, Rothman said.
And he has has already given Merrill Lynch the red Ferrari, which they will auction, said assistant district attorney Vimi Bhatia.
The parties return to court June 2 so the defense can try again to talk the judge into taking . Mandala remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail