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Playing for Shrills

Thanks for Nothing, Rigas!

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Dear Mr. Rigas,

Thank you for getting arrested. That pitiful 6 a.m. perp walk from your New York high rise drove the Dow up 489 points and sent a little jolt of electricity sizzling through my aunt's ailing Disney stocks. Congratulations on securing my inheritance.

You couldn't even get arrested like a man, could you? What, were you hiding underneath the $8,000 Chianelli while your guilty little children fought for space behind the oak armoire? Bank robbers have the sense to keep a goddamn getaway car running; heck, you own at least twelve. But no, you grabbed around $2 billion in unreported loans and under-the-table money transfers from your own company and didn't even have the sense to leave the engine running. You just sat there in your luxury high-rise waiting for New York's finest to snap a pair of gold-plated handcuffs on your bony wrists. That's not entertainment, that's anticlimactic.

I wanted to see live coverage of your pasty white ass in the passenger seat of a golden pearl Lexus LX 470 SUV barreling down the highway in a low-speed chase through the Hamptons. You could have zipped along the street while your Worldcom and ImClone buddies shouted encouragement and waved signs from outside their mansions. The luxury rent-a-cops should have been offering you lattes via megaphone while you sucked on the barrel of daddy's ivory-handled Smith & Wesson. Even an Enron Executive had the decency to swallow a bullet.

But let's not dwell on the past too much. What's done is done. The feds are tearing apart your down-stuffed mattress looking for wads of cash and Adelphia is set to suck you dry of every penny you have before the last few solid cable companies move in for the kill. I'm interested in the future.

You're rich and white, so prison is entirely out of the question. I use prison in the loosest sense of the word, since your little barb-wired resort spa would probably have a nicer golf course than the one you built with $13 million in stolen funds. The last thing we need is you putting iron with a Wall Street bad boy looking for new partners in white collar crime.

But what, then? Exile on a private island in the Bahamas? Banishment to the Swiss Alps? Where does that leave us, the little guys? That doesn't pay back the employees about to lose their jobs and 401(k) plans. Your investors will still be angry and Congress will still be looking for a scapegoat. That's not going to dry the tears of all those busty personal assistants in negotiation with Playboy right now. How can we work out a deal that benefits everyone? Pop on your lambskin gloves and grab this olive branch, my friend. I've got a deal that will knock your silk double woven socks off. No messy trials, no lengthy investigations. You don't go to jail and you don't go bankrupt. It's all forgiven with just twelve hours of your time.

Let's get down to business.

You repeatedly fucked over your company, investors, and clients, so it's only fair that you register yourself as a sex offender in the state of New York. I know, I know, but it's honestly not so bad. We'll notify all your golfing buddies that you're not to be trusted with their wives or money and that your grandkids don't get to be treasurers in Boy Scouts. Your face will go on a special website warning people not to loan you startup money for a multimedia conglomerate and small businesses near your home will all be notified of your presence. It's not fair to let financial predators like yourself loose on the streets without telling the neighbors. On the plus side, you can still get a job in any New York public school or church, no questions asked.

Besides, bearing a criminal label doesn't mean you'll be treated like a criminal. You're not getting anywhere near the potential 100 years in prison that winking prosecutors are playfully tossing at you. We'll be lucky to have you under house arrest for six months. That just doesn't feel right. A bank robber can get twenty to life for stealing a few grand, but you get a slap on the wrist for embezzling millions and hiding billions of dollars in corporate debt? Even first-time drug dealers have to endure cold showers and hot lovin' at San Quentin. I want you in a similarly compromising situation.

So here's the deal: spend a night with a burly ex-convict and we'll drop all the charges. It'll be just you, him, a cell and a camera. We'll build the cell inside Madison Square Garden and invite all your laid-off employees. Now that's a severance package. Who could stay mad after seeing you spend a few hours with Bubba the Friendly Giant?

Sure your employees might complain during the winter when it's cold and they're broke, but the awkward look on your face will keep them warm at night. We'll sell fifteen minute blocks of it on Pay-Per-View and earn enough to reimburse Adelphia for all those undocumented "loans" you took out during our tenure. And just think of the corporate sponsors. Coca-Cola would kill to get their name written across those iron bars and I just know we could work in a commercial for The Gap.

I know John Ashcroft will approve the deal. He and the rest of Bush's cronies will be looking for similar mercy when the next Democratic administration tosses a few indictments their way. This way we all save face and you get to keep a few million dollars. Who knows, if it all works out you might get a job hosting similar events on FOX.

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