'Execution List' Author Pleads Guilty

Jul 19 2011 | 1:55pm ET

Vincent McCrudden, the former hedge fund manager accused of threatening the lives of 47 people with ties to financial regulators, pleaded guilty before the start of his trial yesterday.

McCrudden, who was arrested in January after returning from Singapore, pleaded guilty to two counts of transmission of threats to injure. The former commodities trader, who accused regulators, notably the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and National Futures Association, of pursuing a vendetta against him, had never denied posting an "execution list" naming 47 regulators, including the heads of the CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission, but had previously claimed that the threats were not serious. But he had denied sending an e-mail promising to kill the NFA's Daniel Driscoll, a denial he retracted yesterday.

In that e-mail, which appeared to be from CFTC chief Gary Gensler, but whose language and origin in Singapore prosecutors said pointed to McCrudden, McCrudden wrote, "It wasn't ever a question of 'if' I was going to kill you, it was just a question of when."

"I apologize to Mr. Driscoll and his family for any apprehension that it may have caused them," McCrudden said in court yesterday.

"I had no intent to injury or bodily harm anybody," he added.

McCrudden's plea comes just days after prosecutors revealed a new piece of evidence against him, which they claimed showed a Facebook posting in which McCrudden promised €250,000 for "proof of killing" any person on a list he produced, which included Driscoll and NFA CEO Daniel Roth. That posting was made from a computer that "was assigned to a hard-wired Internet line dedicated exclusively to the defendant's room at the Treetops Hotel in Singapore," prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

The new evidence played a role in McCrudden's decision to plead guilty, his lawyer, Bruce Barket said. Two days before prosecutors revealed the new evidence, Barket claimed that the government's case against his client was "in a state of collapse."

"He's decided to accept responsibility for the conduct in which he engaged," Barket said. "He apologized to the court, to his family and to people whose names were on the Web postings he made."

After the hearing, McCrudden's sister, Mary Eisenstein, said he pleaded guilty to end "the pain and suffering that his family was going through."

McCrudden's legal troubles began in 2000 when he was criminally charged with defrauding his hedge fund investors. But despite his acquittal in 2003, the NFA refused to allow him to register.

"On Dec. 10, 2010, I was notified that I was being civilly sued by the CFTC for $58 million," McCrudden said. "It upset me. I had started to post some things on the site that hadn't been there before."

Among those things were a call to "go buy a gun, and let's get to work in taking back out country from these criminals," with McCrudden promising to "be the first one to lead by example.

McCrudden faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in December. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a term of between 27 and 33 months.

"This defendant crossed the line when he directly threatened to kill public officials who were working to keep our financial markets fair and open, and invited others to join him," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "He thought he could hide in the shadows of the Internet and disseminate his threats and instructions. He was wrong."


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