Bear Stearns defendants’ e-mail use ‘dumbfounding,’ lawyers say

Seattle Post- Incriminating messages allegedly sent by two ex-Bear Stearns Cos. hedge fund managers indicted on fraud charges that even sophisticated professionals disregard the dangers of putting sensitive information in e-mails, ex-prosecutors said.

Ralph Cioffi, 52, and Matthew Tannin, 46, were charged last week with misleading investors by saying two funds were thriving while knowing subprime-mortgage investments threatened their collapse. The indictments, the first relating to the subprime crisis, cited e-mails from both business and personal accounts describing looming problems. Investors in the funds ultimately lost $1.6 billion.

"It is pretty dumbfounding that people still use e-mail in such a casual way," said Carol Bruce, a former federal prosecutor now with law firm Bracewell & Giuliani in Washington. "But they do — and they will into the foreseeable future."

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