NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
Ivan Boesky, sentenced Friday to three years in prison for his role in illegal insider trading, will likely change his entire life’s focus during his years of incarceration and probably the years following. The former Wall Street arbitrager enrolled as a master’s candidate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Earlier this year, Boesky attended classes at the seminary, where his teachers and classmates noted his interest in his studies and his questions about Jewish law. He did not give interviews while attending the seminary, which is the higher learning institution of the Conservative movement of Judaism.
The seminary indicated that Boesky would not have to re-enroll after completing his jail term. Despite rumors, JTS also denied that Boesky is enrolled in the seminary’s rabbinical studies program.
Prior to his indictment on a federal charge of conspiring to “make false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the federal government, Boesky was a very high-profile member of the Jewish philanthropic community in New York and had been a member of the JTS board and president of the JTS library corporation. The day before the Security and Exchange Commission announced it was fining Boesky a record $100 million, he informed JTS that he was resigning from the two positions. He withdrew his name and that of his wife, Seema, from the library, for which he had reportedly pledged $2 million.
Boesky also resigned from the boards of UJA-Federation of New York, Yeshiva University and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He was a member of the UJA-Federation’s council of overseers and campaign leadership, and had twice chaired the UJA-Federation joint campaign.
In addition, Boesky served as special adviser on Jewish affairs to the Republican National Jewish Coalition. He also withdrew a pledge of $750,000 for the planned Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University.
Boesky pleaded guilty in April 1987 to a single conspiracy charge after agreeing to cooperate with the federal investigation of illegal insider trading, permitting recordings to be made of his conversations with senior investment figures. Boesky’s role in the illegal insider trading was revealed in November 1986.
Boesky is the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who owned a chain of delicatessens in Detroit. He was a child entrepreneur by the age of 13, when he drove an ice cream truck around Detroit without a driver’s license.
In the early 1970s, while with the arbitrage department of Edwards and Hanly in New York, Boesky had another skirmish with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which fined him $10,000 and censured him for violating a securities trading regulation.