The saddest part...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The saddest part...

...of this entire $82 million mortgage scam, for me, is an event which occurred almost un­noticed February 15th, the disbarment of an attorney and old friend of almost 40 years standing.

No, I'm not talking about my neighbor of the past seven decades, George Guldi... I never attended any of George's weddings or social­ized with him over the years.

I met Thom (as he preferred) McVann in '74 when he was one of the "young Turk" Assistant District Attorneys who Suffolk County DA Harry O'Brien recruited, along with Charlie Newell, Johnny Ahern and Neil Rogers, out of the Queens DA's office.

Being belligerently single... and Oirish... we raised a glass in Magic's Pub on more than one occasion 'til he suddenly went missing from the regulars at 113 Main Street.

"He's met someone," Charlie Newell said one evening when Thom's name was mentioned.

"O Lord!" someone else said, and we all raised a glass to he who had fallen by the wayside.

I met his "someone" some months later when Thom escorted this slip of an Oirish lass with blonde hair to below her waist, into my office.

Kathleen Miggins of Katonah, NY, was the type of gal one warmed to instantly and we got on famously... not that Thom noticed.

He was... there's no other way to describe it... "glassy-eyed" throughout their visit, one hand lightly touching her arm through her coat as she and I chatted like old class-mates.

Mario Puzo referred to the condition as being struck by "the thunderbolt" in "The Godfather," when "Michael Corleone" first spies "Apollonia," who would become his Sicilian bride.

When the couple left, I grinned at Kathy and said, "Re­mem­ber, I do announcements and invitations."

She laughed uproariously, but Thom didn't notice... in her presence, Thom wasn't aware of much else over the next 28 years.

They were married the following year... a grand event it was... and were inseparable thereafter.

What an embodiment of vivacity she was!

When she passed from a sneak attack of colon cancer in January 2005 following what seemed to have been a win­ning battle with breast can­cer, I think her service was Thom's last volun­tary public appearance.

Her loss left an enormous void in his life, and nothing could fill it. More accurately, he wasn't interested in any­thing which might possibly fill it, and became a home-bound recluse.

I would stop to visit with him at his huge home on South Road where he had with­drawn into the attached mother-in-law house he had built for Irene Miggins in the early '80s.

He was always dressed... with never any evidence of the rumored end-stage Howard Hughes appearance... and usually sitting in a corner of the smaller living room reading a hard-cover book.

No inducement could get him out of that house... and there were many of us who tried.

Calmly he would decline... "No, I don't think so. But thank you anyway."

He was, in short, "a busted valise" without Kathy... and in complete passive mode.

He had friends who somehow saw to his more critical needs; his Mill Road office partner... as opposed to law partner... George Guldi, took on some of his legal clients.

When the hammer fell on that mortgage scam matter in 2009, it was, ironically, Thom's records the DA's inves­ti­gators were after when they went into those law of­fices, so it is not known what part that played in George's con­viction on an unrelated matter in February.

But with George convicted, disbarred and head­ed to prison for 4-12 years, and Thom's guilty plea to the class E felony (Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree), his own disbar­ment and sentence to a con­ditional discharge of three years, some prime office space is available on Mill and Woodland.

(Under the heading of it's a small world, one of Harry O'Brien's Detective Investigators while Thom was an ADA, was current DA Thomas Spota who used to shoot hoops at the old Six Corners school back then and have a beer at The Artful Dodger af­terward. This may have played into that "compassionate sentence.")

According to his disbarment proceeding, Thom...

"...admitted that between approximately January 2002 and January 2008, he acted in concert with others to engage in a sys­tematic course of conduct with the in­tent to defraud mortgage lenders."

Through "January 2008," three years after Kathy's passing? I don't think so!

He hasn't done a thing of any sort since then, so I suspect that his plea was little more than a "Yeah, yeah, here I am, do with me as you will" type of deal.

(A pretrial conference on the $82 million mortgage scam is scheduled for tomor­row, April 18th, but with his Guilty plea, Thom needn't be there.

Whether he's on the prosecution's witness list, though, is not known.)

No one who knows Thom holds any illusions about his situation and his state of mind.

He has never recovered from the loss of his darling Kathy, and I don't think he cares much about his legal situation.

Or anything else for that matter.

Maybe that's the saddest part.


1. Tugboat Bertha said...

This is a very sad story and a tragic outcome. Kathy was a wonderful gal who worked so hard in the community. She was a first-class fund-raiser, an outstanding member of the Library board and a humanitarian. It is sad that the love of her life has fallen on such hard times.

There is more to be told of all this... much more.

2. Patricia said...

And who laments those who lost huge amounts of money due to the $82M fraud ring orchestrated by Thom McVann and (his cohorts)? Some lost everything they had as a result of this scam! I do not lament Thom's new reality. "Karma" comes to mind. People who seek to malign, slander or destroy others for their own monetary benefit or personal satisfaction must deal with those demons eventually.

Who doesn't lament the victims, Patricia? But who exactly "lost everything?" Who didn't have title insurance?

I wrote about someone I'd known for more than 35 years. I do not excuse anything nefarious to which he was party, only note something of local interest which may have slipped under most's radar.

But yes, your observations about "karma" are well-taken.

3. Katie said...

I recently drove past this home on South Road and thought was a beautiful home, but it's a shame how it's been left unmanaged. As I searched the internet for an owner I stumbled upon your blog, and a well written one I must add. Do you happen to know if his home is for sale?

Dear Katie;

As Thom has remained pretty much incommunicado the past nine years, I have no idea.

But I'll bet I know who does... anyone of the 77 real estate agents in the area. Just drive down Sunset Avenue and turn onto Main with a sign in your car window, "Looking to buy a house," and you will be overrun with real estate sales persons.
– Dean

4. Joni Robbins said...

I am Thom's great niece through Aunt Kathy. I actually came there looking for my Uncle around 2011 before we moved to Italy. I am back in the States and would very much like to see him. If you have contact please let him know this. Much appreciated.

Haven't seen Thom in several years... don't even try to visit him any more. He's a busted valise who threw in the towel when he lost Kathy. On top of that, he was hospitalized for a period earlier this year.

Kathy's cousin's Merle and Meg come down every May and stock his larder and refrigerator, but this may have been their last such effort.

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