minimum-security prison, plus restitution and fines. McClendon currently focuses on his appeal, an 18-month process.
Ernest Green, managing director of Lehman Brothers and chairman of the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP), a black professional organization, adds his personal opinion. “There is, I believe, a disproportionate amount of scrutiny of African Americans in the business. My hope is that they will be able, with their legal assistance, to appeal this and have it reviewed as undue and harsh treatment.”
While some in the industry have pulled the race card as a motive for the SEC turning over its investigation to the Justice Department, the SEC denies those claims.
“It’s helpful to look at all the actions that the commission has taken,” says the director of the SEC’s Office of Municipal Securities, Paul Maco, citing SEC proceedings in the past five years involving high-profile majority firms such as Stevens & Co., Merrill Lynch, and Lazard Freres. “The goal, of course, is to create a level playing field for all-protecting investors, protecting the integrity of the marketplace, and allowing those in the marketplace to compete on the basis of their talent and ability.”