ImClone's Waksal jailed for seven years

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The Independent Online

The disgraced former head of ImClone Systems, Sam Waksal, who admitted last year to insider trading and sales tax fraud, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a New York judge and ordered to pay $4m (£2.4m) in fines yesterday.

"The harm that you wrought is truly incalculable," the judge, William Pauley, told Waksal before delivering the sentence. He disregarded pleas for a shorter prison term from the former executive's lawyers. Waksal's fall from grace, which has now also ensnared the American home-design diva Martha Stewart, dates back to December 2001.

On discovering the US government was threatening to withhold approval of an ImClone anti-cancer drug, Waksal tipped off family members to dump shares. He pleaded guilty in October to securities fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury. Ms Stewart, who had a long friendship with Waksal, was charged last week on five federal counts, including conspiracy and lying to prosecutors, in a case that revolves around her decision on the same day to sell 4,000 ImClone shares. Ms Stewart said she intends to plead innocent in court.

Addressing the judge yesterday in a packed courtroom, Waksal said he was "deeply disturbed and so very sorry for my actions". He went on: "I want to apologise to all the people who may have had confidence in me and whose confidence I betrayed."

Shares in ImClone picked up last week after European research showed that the drug in question, named Erbitux, could indeed be effective in combating cancer of the colon.