Milken free in months after judge cuts sentence

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MICHAEL MILKEN, the former junk bond financier, is likely to be released from prison in seven months' time.

Judge Kimba Wood yesterday reduced Milken's original 10-year sentence in the light of his co-operation with federal prosecutors.

Milken, who became a symbol of the excesses of the 1980s financial markets in his role as head of the Beverly Hills junk bond office of Drexel Burnham Lambert, has already served 17 months at a minimum security prison in California known as Club Fed in law enforcement circles.

With parole plus credits gained for tutoring other inmates, he was in any case expected to be released after serving a total of 36 months.

Judge Wood took this period of time into account in her sentence reduction rather than the full 10- year sentence in arriving at her decision.

Milken had applied for a reduced sentence on the basis of his co-operation with federal prosecutors and the SEC as a witness in cases related to Drexel dealings.

Milken took the stand in June to testify against Alan Rosenthal, Drexel's former head of the convertible bond desk, who was subsequently convicted of bribing an investment fund manager.

After that appearance prosecutors wrote to Judge Wood saying that Milken had been helpful in that specific case.

But they were lukewarm in their assessment of his overall level of co-operation since pleading guilty to six criminal charges two years ago.

The SEC also criticised Milken for his overall level of co-operation.

But Judge Wood noted that his assistance in the Rosenthal case had been substantial and said that this warranted a sentence reduction to a total of 24 months.

Judge Wood wrote in her decision: 'If society did not reward cooperation by the worst criminals (who often know the most about high-level criminal schemes), many serious crimes would go undetected and/or unpunished.'

She made no change to the remainder of Milken's sentence, which includes three years of full- time community service to start when he is released from prison.