Readers of the July 4th edition of the Los Angeles Times were treated to a front page story on how disgraced Global Crossing chairman Gary Winnick is currently spending $30 million to fix up his elaborate Bel Air mansion. Undeterred by the sobering revelation that Global’s January bankruptcy filing wiped out $54 billion in shareholder wealth, and put thousands out of work, perhaps Winnick takes comfort in the employment his restoration project is creating, or maybe he really believes all that hype about his philanthropy. Check out this adoring article. You’ll especially enjoy the last line.
Yes, he has given more than $100 million to charity–a nice ploy he picked up from mentor and fellow scam artist Michael Milken. A good deal of the “charity” was donations to political organizations, mostly to Democrats. In typical LA Times fashion, what could have been a hit piece on Winnick morphed instead to a strangely out-of-place essay on architectural history. That way, they didn’t have to mention how Winnick turned a $100,000 investment into $18 million, for Democratic National Committee bagman Terry McAuliffe.
Winnick is still rolling in the dough, of course, since he knew when to sell millions of his shares.
If he had bothered to study the history of the first undersea cable ventures, he would have noticed that several companies got involved, worked themselves into a lather about the potential profits, and then mostly disappeared. Since at least half of the traffic (telegrams) in those days was for stock trading, the stock market guys thought that it was a wonderful investment, somehow not considering that the vast majority of people would probably never send a transatlantic telegram. Growth, therefore, was limited.
Fast forward to 1997, and Internet fever. Winnick raised $400 million in Global’s initial public offering, with the help of Mc Auliffe and other co-conspirators. He borrowed billions to run more fiber under the sea. Happily ripping off AT&T and MCI, things looked good for Global Crossing, until AT&T and MCI ran their own undersea cable. At this point, it was all downhill via foolish acquisitions, shady deals, and just plain fraud.
In 1999, Winnick hired expensive lobbyists to regulate away his competitors, but it didn’t work. Then, with the help of (you guessed it) Arthur Andersen, Global cooked the books. In the bankruptcy filing, it listed assets of $22.4 billion and liabilities of $12.4 billion. Unfortunately, that didn’t represent $10 billion in value, since most of the assets were worthless goodwill from overpaying for all those acquisitions. Expect the plaintiff’s lawyers and publicity junkie senators to hound Winnick until his dying day. Not that too many tears will be shed on his behalf.
Which brings us to the story of Maria Goretti, the sainted humble Italian country girl, who chose death rather than being raped alive. With the centennial of her death occurring this week, we are reminded of this virgin martyr. When her father died of malaria, she, her brothers, and her mother Assunta joined the household of Giovanni Serenelli. Although not even 12, Maria’s beauty awakened the lust of Serenelli’s son Alessandro, who, after repeatedly trying to seduce her, finally demanded sex at knife point. Maria fought him off saying, “No. It’s a sin. God does not want it. You’ll go to Hell.”
Unimpressed with her pleas, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times. As she lay dying, she forgave her murderer, while taking the Last Rites. Many years later, still imprisoned, the formerly unrepentant killer had a vision of Maria, and was converted. This was only one of the many miracles attributed to her. When he was released, a life term being avoided because of his youth when the crime was committed, he went straight to Assunta, begging her forgiveness, which she gave. “If my daughter can forgive him, who am I to withhold forgiveness,” she said.
Then, on June 24, 1950, Maria was canonized by Pope Pius XII. During the mass, an old man helped an even older woman up to the altar. It was Maria’s mother and Alessandro Serenelli! Rare enough that the mother of saint be present at the canonization mass; rarer still that the one who martyred her be present as well.
Gary Winnick, the consummate salesman with everything but virtue, and St. Maria Goretti, the little farm girl with NOTHING but virtue. Conflicting role models for our conflicted age.