Slap on the wrist: General Re CEO Ronald E. Ferguson two years - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Slap on the wrist: General Re CEO Ronald E. Ferguson two years

for falsifying financial statements...
Not a good sign for future compliance.
Ex-General Re CEO Ronald Ferguson Gets Two Years In Prison --
Judge Christopher F. Droney painted a good-man-gone-wrong picture Tuesday as he sentenced former General Re Chief Executive Ronald E. Ferguson to two years in prison for helping American International Group hoodwink investors.

It could have been much worse for Ferguson, 66, who faced up to life imprisonment but drew a landslide of support for mercy. Prosecutors were hoping for six to nine years.

Colleagues, his pastor and his wife, Carol, portrayed him in U.S. District Court in Hartford as an honorable, giving, humble and spiritual man who initiated or participated in a multitude of charitable and community programs.

Ferguson, of Fairfield, was the first of five former insurance executives convicted in February to be sentenced. A jury found them guilty in a conspiracy to fraudulently inflate AIG's claim reserves in late 2000 and early 2001 to allay shareholder and Wall Street concerns about the company. There was no personal financial gain for Ferguson, but AIG shareholders lost an estimated $544 million to $597 million because of the scheme.

"This case is a tragedy, especially for Ron Ferguson," Droney said in court. "We will never know why such a good man did such a bad thing."

In addition to two years in prison, Ferguson, who has been free on a $1 million non-surety bond, was sentenced to two years of supervised release and fined $200,000. He is scheduled to report Feb. 18 to the federal Bureau of Prisons, but his attorneys have filed a motion to try to keep him free throughout the appeal of his conviction.

Ferguson's supporters urged Droney to order community service instead of prison, noting that he has been studying to become an ordained minister.

Ferguson said he's committed to full-time community service.

"I am representing to you today that I can and will make a difference," he told Droney.

Ferguson remained calm throughout the testimonials Tuesday but bowed his head into his hand emotionally when his wife of 43 years, Carol, broke into tears as she begged the judge not to imprison him.

"I cannot envision my life without Ron," she said. "Please don't take him away from me."

Droney said he had never seen such an outpouring of good will about a defendant, which included nearly 400 letters of support. But he said Ferguson's conduct was "substantial and essential" to the conspiracy and "a message must be sent to the business community that this kind of conduct cannot be tolerated and will be punished severely."

Ferguson was convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud, false statements to the SEC and mail fraud. Christian Milton, another defendant and a former AIG executive, is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 27.
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