America loves second acts.
After then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer uncovered his shenanigans during the go-go days, none other than Henry Blodget is back holding a very public court with a video gig at Yahoo in addition to his day job as reigning tech pundit at his Silicon Alley Insider blog.
So somehow I can't really summon any moral indignation upon learning that Frank Quattrone is back in business. Say what you like about him but at least he's not a creep.
I've read some outraged comments on the Internet this evening, but look, the guy's rap sheet is clean. OK, it's technically clean because he caught a break on an earlier obstruction-of-justice conviction. But that's the U.S. justice system in action. You either accept the rules or you don't. It's not an a la carte menu.
Quattrone was figured to be a goner after his May 2004 conviction for criminal obstruction, another former Silicon Valley high-flyer-turned-jailbird queuing up for the prison chow line with WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers and Qwest's Joe Nacchio. And who knows? Maybe it won't be long before Nacchio will be able to peddle his business advice as well. Last month a federal appeals court ordered a new trial because the original trial judge had kept out expert testimony needed for Nacchio's defense against insider trading charges.
Luckily for Quattrone, the presiding judge in his trial, Judge Richard W. Owen, was so one-sided that the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice all supported Quattrone's appeal. The conviction subsequently got tossed out by a federal appeals court, which found that Owen had improperly instructed the jury on how to interpret the law.
Did that also mean Quattrone never got his hands dirty as prosecutors originally charged? We'll never know the answer. A first trial in 2003 ended in a mistrial and the government had no more stomach to bring Quattrone to trial a third time. The Securities and Exchange Commission followed up by overturning a NASD life ban against working in the securities industry after the conviction.
And now he's back in a very public spotlight. Life moves on and it's time to turn the page.