Gary Tanaka

Gary Tanaka

Gary Tanaka Found Guilty on Three Counts

Federal jury convicts prominent horse owner of conspiracy and security fraud Nov. 19.

Thoroughbred owner Gary Tanaka was found guilty Nov. 19 on three of 12 counts relating to securities fraud while he headed Amerindo Investment Advisors. A Manhattan federal jury was hung or acquitted Tanaka on the remaining charges. Tanaka’s partner in Amerindo, noted New York philanthropist Alberto Vilar, was convicted on all 12 counts.

“I am surprised, though I knew I was fighting an uphill battle when my full partner was convicted on all 12 counts in a matter of a couple of hours,” Tanaka said following the verdict, which came after four days of jury deliberation. “How can a jury convict one partner on all 12 and acquit his partner on all 12 counts? The nightmare goes on.”

Tanaka and Vilar were charged more than 3 1/2 years ago with conspiracy, fraud, and lying to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Tanaka has been under virtual house arrest in New York since then, and has been unable to see his wife and youngest children, who live in London, England, since he was charged.

Tanaka, 65, was born in an internment camp in Idaho during World War II because of his Japanese ancestry. From humble beginnings, he attended M.I.T. and eventually made millions for clients with Amerindo, which invested heavily in high-tech and companies as that sector rose dramatically.

As a rule, he has bought successful racehorses that have proven themselves in Europe and brought them to North America, where their residual value increased after stakes scores. Among those he has campaigned are Millkom, Dreams Galore, Snow Polina, champion Golden Apples, Gourmet Girl, Sarafan, Pico Central, and, more recently, Sudan and Proudinsky.

Tanaka said he currently owns 25 Thoroughbreds, and noted he’d have to do something with them by the end of the year to avoid licensing issues now that he has been convicted.

Tanaka will have a bail hearing Nov. 26 before U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan, and sentencing is expected sometime early next year. There are mandatory guidelines for sentencing, although the judge does have some discretion.

Tanaka was convicted of one count each of conspiracy, securities fraud, and investment adviser fraud. Tanaka said he would wait to hear what his sentence is before deciding whether he will appeal.

“We’re very disappointed in the result,”  Tanaka’s lawyer, Glenn Colton, said of the verdict, “and we are considering an appeal.” 

“Perhaps the judge will take my time under house arrest into consideration,” said Tanaka. “Hope springs eternal. Sometimes, when things look bleakest, you still make it to the winner’s circle.”