Mr. Ruehle, You Are a Free Man, A Broadcom Saga
Try to imagine… after a 40 year career that was distinguished by some notable achievements, including shepherding two very successful high tech companies from their formative stages to become leaders in their industry, suddenly the world turns upside down.
As you contemplate retirement and finally taking some time to enjoy your family and to reflect on your achievements, suddenly you become the primary target of federal prosecutors. In the midst of a media firestorm over a practice that had been slapped with the media-friendly term of stock options backdating, all fingers suddenly point at you as the perpetrator of a grievous white collar crime and you are accused of a series of felonies that, if you are convicted, could land you in prison for the rest of your life.
If someone had asked me to imagine that before 2006 I would not have been able to do so. Much to my shock and dismay, that was exactly what happened to me in 2006. For the next three years I had to prepare for and endure a Federal criminal trial that could have resulted in me spending my “retirement” years in a Federal prison. I then had to spend another year and a half clearing my name in a series of civil suits.
How could this have happened? It all began when a professor from a Midwestern university published an academic study that concluded that many stock option grants made by a variety of American companies may have been “timed retroactively.” In today’s media-driven society, words like these can never be allowed to just sit there. The 24/7 news cycle jumped on this report like pack of wolves devouring raw meat.
The resulting frenzy would eventually consume the energies of hundreds of companies, destroy (or threaten to destroy) the lives of some of corporate America’s most productive citizens, and burn through hundreds of millions of shareholders’ and taxpayers’ dollars – all of this with the ostensible purpose of “protecting” shareholders’ interests.
In this very personal story I will describe how I became a target of federal prosecutors because of my role as CFO of Broadcom Corporation. Using courtroom testimony I will demonstrate how overzealous prosecutors intimidated innocent current and former Broadcom employees into providing statements and testimony that was favorable to the prosecutors’ version of events. With generous use of transcripts from my eight week criminal trial I will take the reader through the unprecedented twists and turns that left the most experienced attorneys in amazement.
The story has a happy ending. The wise and courageous judge in the case, the Honorable Cormac J. Carney, issued a ruling before the case was to go to the jury. In his ruling he said, “Based on the complete record now before me, I find that the government has intimidated and improperly influenced the three witnesses critical to Mr. Ruehle’s defense. The cumulative effect of that misconduct has distorted the truth-finding process and compromised the integrity of the trial. To submit this case to the jury would make a mockery of Mr. Ruehle’s constitutional right to compulsory process and a fair trial.”
When he had completed reading his ruling into the record, Judge Carney turned toward me and uttered the words that still echo resplendently in my ears: Mr. Ruehle, you are a free man.
The book "Mr. Ruehle, You Are A Free Man, A Broadcom Saga" can be purchased in paperback through Amazon or as an ebook from Kindle, iBooks or Nook.
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