Vincent McCrudden, a former commodities broker and hedge fund manager, pleaded guilty in federal court in Central Islip Monday to threatening the lives of nearly 50 members of the financial regulatory industry.
The plea agreement was a stark reversal for McCrudden, 50, who had maintained his innocence until moments before his trial was to begin Monday morning. His decision came two days after prosecutors at the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York motioned to admit new evidence of an uncharged “threatening communication” they contended McCrudden posted on Facebook last October targeting additional regulators.
Held without bail since his January arrest by the FBI, McCrudden faced allegations from the government he had posted an “execution list” on his AlnBri Management, LLC website in December 2010 naming 47 current and former members of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), National Futures Association (NFA) and US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
On another page, the government contended, McCrudden sought, “the home numbers, addresses and any background information on the following corrupt government people,” listing nine people including the chairs of the SEC and CFTC. He later offered rewards “of up to USD $100,000 for personal information on the people named on this site, and also the validation and proof of punishment against these criminals,” according to its complaint.
The names and bounty accompanied rants calling for the abolition of the aforementioned agencies.
“Civil disobedience is the only way to stop these fiefdoms,” the complaint cited AlnBri’s website as stating. “Corrupt and biased processes that favor big business and punish the small guy in a deliberate anti-competitive campaign can only end with violence against these lifelong lawyers that work at these agencies.”
Additionally, the government alleged McCrudden had sent a threatening e-mail from Singapore Sept. 30, 2010 to Daniel Driscoll, the NFA’s chief operating officer, using a Gmail account in the name of CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler. Its subject line read: “You’re a Dead Man.”
“It wasn’t ever a question of ‘if’ I was going to kill you, it was just a question of when,” it read. “You are going to die a painful death… I have researched some talented people who have agreed to help me towards this end…”
With about 20 family members and friends seated behind McCrudden and his attorney Bruce A. Barket—and just as many, perhaps a few more observers filling the rows behind the prosecution team of Assistant US Attorneys Christopher Caffarone and James McMahon—the former trader, with salt-and-pepper speckled black hair wearing a black suit and red tie, sat upright and appeared attentive, if not shell-shocked; eyes wide open, staring directly at Senior Judge Denis R. Hurley, who for the better part of an hour asked a barrage of questions regarding what he called the “change in the landscape over the weekend.”
“How do you plead to [the two counts of transmission of threats]?” asked Hurley.
“Guilty, your Honor,” McCrudden replied, matter-of-factly, telling the court he had been “upset” when he learned of a Dec. 16 lawsuit filed against him by the CFTC.
“I started to post some things on the website that had not been there before,” he explained. “The $100,000 reward was basically a spoof on the FBI website.
“The execution list… I had no intent to injure or bodily harm anyone,” he continued. “I apologize to the people I named on that website. I never meant them harm.
“I was trying to be provocative,” added McCrudden. “I apologize to the court. I apologize to the victims… I apologize to my family, who I love dearly… I apologize to my ex-wife… I apologize to my attorney.”
“Did you send that?” Hurley asked regarding the Singapore e-mail at the heart of the government’s case.
“Yes, your Honor,” he answered.
“Where were you when you sent it?” Hurley asked.
“The country of Singapore,” he answered. “I apologize to Mr. Driscoll and his family for any apprehension that it may have caused him.”
As Hurley summoned the unsworn jury to inform them of their dismissal, McCrudden held his head in his left hand and closed his eyes. Blowing kisses to his family when he initially entered the chamber, he waved them goodbye on his way back through a side door.
“Vince made a decision to accept responsibility for what he did,” Barket, of Garden City-based Quadrino Schwartz, told reporters in the hallway afterward. “It was a difficult and courageous thing for him to do.”
Asked whether the Facebook posting had anything to do with McCrudden’s decision to plea, Barket replied: “Sure.”
“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,” US Attorney Loretta A. Lynch announced in a press release following the proceedings. “He thought he could hide in the shadows of the Internet and disseminate his threats and instructions. He was wrong.”
Family and friends depicted the two-time World Trade Center terrorism attack survivor and father of two as an honest small businessman with “an Irish temper” who had been victimized by the government for speaking up against corruption within the financial culture.
“He loves his family and is doing what he thinks he has to do for his family,” said an emotional Kevin McCrudden, Vincent’s younger brother. “This has been hard on all of us.”
Sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 5. McCrudden faces up to five years for each count, with “advisory guidelines” of 27 and 33 months to be considered, explained Hurley.