Hailing as I do from India, I’m no stranger to humanity’s most persistent crime through the ages – Benign acceptance of and frequent contempt toward fellow humans reduced to the soul crushing hell of begging.
Begging by Have-Nots
In my mind, there can be no greater mass injustice than the plaintive pleas for survival from society’s vast unblessed and vulnerable echoing across scorched plains, snowy mountains and deep gorges of our planet for thousands of years.
Babies and crones, clothed and unclothed, Black, Brown and White, sick and healthy, sane and insane, they look beseechingly into our eyes, seeking a few crumbs, a few cents, a few paisa so that they and their loved ones may stave hunger and minimize misery for a few short hours.
That the plague of begging has endured for millenniums, when Earth’s bounty is sufficient for everyone, is enough to condemn Man as worse than the most savage beast and dismiss all talk of civilization as epic fantasy.
The memory of one beggar from my childhood days remains indelibly etched in my mind, lodged there immovably till I shed my mortal coils. Clad only in a komanam (loin-cloth), the tall, old beggar with a small crown of white hair was in such a decrepit and infirm state that he could barely shuffle from house to house.
Leaning on every gate for support, the tired old man would stand for a few seconds, his right palm opening and closing uncontrollably near his scrotum, then helplessly squat down and begin a long wail hoping we’d fling a few coins in his thin aluminum vessel that was invariably empty.
While all beggars throw out desperate wails, every beggar remains unique in his words and approach.
I still remember the words beneath the old man’s desperate shrieks:
Srirangathin Ranganatha, Chidambarathin Nataraja, Amma-thaye Pitchai Podungu….Dhana Dharmam Thaye, Pitchai Podungu Amma-thaye.
Abandoned to the cruel whims of a populace’s infrequent generosity, the old man’s physical and mental frame was deplorable.
More than a plea for alms, for the old man from my summer years and for the overwhelming majority of beggars, the act of extending their palms for a few coins or a bread piece is actually a vain cry for justice in a callous world.
Begging by Have-Plentys
If begging by have-nothings is as old as the hills, begging by the have-plentys of society is a recent affliction blooming in courts across the U.S. by way of sentencing memorandums and letters to judges by criminals and their family members respectively.
An affliction that’s now ensnared Rosemary Martoma and several other Indians whose spouses have been convicted of crimes in U.S. courts.
Amused as I am by the spectacle of millionaires owning McMansions (Mathew Martoma/Rosemary Martoma), and winter homes in Colorado (example: Rajat Gupta) begging judges for shorter prison terms for their spouses or themselves, I can’t help but describe this phenomenon for what it truly represents – Begging for Injustice.
Mathew Martoma’s Florida Mansion with Fake Grass & Elevator
(Photo courtesy: Zillow)
Rosemary Martoma – Begging for Injustice
Wife of Indian millionaire crook Mathew Martoma, recently convicted of securities fraud in New York, Rosemary is a pediatrician (non-practicing??) and real estate investor whose 11th wedding anniversary passed recently (July 5).
In a nauseous letter to the U.S. judge who will hand out a prison term to her husband on July 28, 2014, Rosemary quickly dives into a sob saga that touches upon herself, her three young children, love, separation, inner pain, compassion, vulnerabilities and devotion before launching into a begging fit for a short sentence for her husband Mathew.
Right in the opening paragraph of her May 28, 2014 letter to Judge Paul Gardephe, Rosemary makes no secret to hide what she’s begging for:
In writing this letter, I am sharing with you my innermost pains and vulnerabilities in the hope that you will better understand our family’s dependence on Mathew and render a sentence that minimizes the separation of our fragile family.
Despite the enormity of his crime, Rosemary is shamelessly begging for a token sentence for her husband Mathew Martoma.
So what if Mathew “cultivated and corrupted two doctors legally bound to guard confidential information concerning a high-profile drug trial….netting…as a direct result, a $9.3 million bonus for himself” (source: Government Sentencing Memorandum, June 27, 2014).
Ignore my husband’s crime, forget his conviction by a jury, overlook his Himalayan greed, disregard the bad example his egregious conduct will have on other hedge fund managers and analysts and just hand him a short sentence so that my children and I can be with him.
In plain English, that’s what Rosemary seems to be telling Judge Paul Gardephe!
Who is this Rosemary begging for such brazen injustice?
Rosemary’s letter to the judge tells us she was born in New Zealand and “grew up in the magnificence and shelter of those isolated rolling hills and peaceful Pacific waters.”
OMG, how poetic! Rolling hills and peaceful Pacific waters.
What could be more idyllic! Makes me want to hop on the next flight to New Zealand.
After a “fiercely protected and loving upbringing” and attending medical school in New Zealand, Rosemary moves to sunny California to pursue the American dream.
Ah, the great American dream!
How wonderful! Makes me think of the 52,000 children whose Central and South American parents wanted the same American dream for their young ones so badly that they took the grave risk of sending the kids with coyotes (smugglers) to make the dangerous illegal border-crossing across scorched desert filled with rattlesnakes and bandits into America.
So those 52,000 children must now be pursuing the American dream, Right? Alas, No. They’re languishing in American detention centers.
Unlike Rosemary, tens of thousands of criminals in U.S. prisons were never “fiercely protected” and never enjoyed the blessing of a “loving upbringing” but grew up in violent ghettos of Philadelphia, Bronx, Wilmington, Los Angeles etc and are behind bars now for possession of small amounts of drugs because of harsh sentencing laws.
Enough of prisons and violent ghettos.
Let’s talk about Rosemary’s love story.
I loved the warmth of California, it is where Mathew and I met. Like Yin and Yang, we were opposing forces, but harmonious in our interdependence….There was an undeniable force that drew us together.
Oooh, ooh, ooh, Yin and Yang and opposing forces and harmonious in our interdependence reads like a passage from a torrid Mills & Boon romance by Anne Mather.
Although Mathew Martoma is a pathetic crook in real life, Rosemary turns a blind eye to his shenanigans and casts him as an amalgam of a genius and a saint.
In Rosemary’s words, her husband Mathew Martoma:
sees potential where others don’t; he is willing to wait when others won’t; he is gentle, nurturing, patient and committed.
For a second, I thought Rosemary was speaking of a Jesus or a Buddha until better sense got hold of me!
No, Mathew is not one of us. He is someone special deserving of special treatment for his crimes
Wait, Mathew is much more – “wise beyond his years, industrious and compassionate….(his) deep faith, his loyalty, his steadfast friendship and his humble generosity.”
OMG, I feel a tingle on my skin. Aren’t we blessed to live in the same age as Mathew Martoma.
And Rosemary’s children? OMG, how much they must be suffering.
With Martoma headed for prison, Rosemary has “untold worries for our children.”
What my children need is stability to overcome these burdens, and no one can provide them with that in Mathew (sic) absence.
Countless Black children in America are growing up in fatherless ghettos because their fathers are in prison for crimes, minor and major but let’s make an exception for Mathew and Rosemary Martoma’s children.
And then comes the unabashed begging from Rosemary, her father-in-law Bobby Martoma, mother-in-law Lizzy Martoma, cousins, friends and pastors.
Rosemary writes to the judge:
The only thought I want to leave you with is my desperate plea for your humanity and compassion in sentencing Mathew. Please consider the ages of our children, ….the challenges we will face….pray Your honor will have the mercy to do the same.
Her father-in-law Bobby Martoma writes:
Without Mathew, Rosemary and the children will be lost….Removing Mathew from the life of his children will bring irreversible damage to them all. (Source: Mathew Martoma’s Sentencing Memorandum)
A litany of begging for a short sentence for Mathew Marton is the common thread in the scores of letters by Rosemary and friends and family to Judge Paul Gardephe.
Rosemary claims to suffer from “physical and mental maladies” but such claims have not moved U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (her husband’s chief prosecutor) from pressing for a stiff sentence.
As Bharara writes on June 27, 2014 in the Government’s Sentencing Memorandum (p.15):
Given the magnitude of the crime, a significant sentence is needed to promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, and deter others.
Bharara feels “a significant period of imprisonment toward the high end of the insider trading sentences imposed by courts in this District – and above Probation’s recommendation of 96 months – is warranted” for Mathew Martoma (source: Government’s Sentencing Memorandum, p.1)
Despite the craven begging by Mathew Martoma in his sentencing memorandum, and by Rosemary Martoma and several others in their letters, I couldn’t agree more with Bharara.
Justice demands that Mathew Martoma get a sentence of over 10-years, forfeit his ill-gotten wealth and pay a hefty punitive fine so that they may serve as a deterrent to other Indians contemplating similar crooked actions.
The old man of my childhood in India was begging for justice but found none.
The Rosemary Martoma of my winter years in America is begging for injustice and must not find any.