January 29, 2016
Startup.Com founder languishing in Colombia jail
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

I show startup.com to my Lifecycle of the Corporation course.  Those of you who teach entrepreneurship have probably already seen it--if you haven't, go rent it right now.  As I told the class this Wednesday, I've seen the movie about 10 times now, and I still love watching it. It covers the drama of raising money and growing a business, and in the end it's all about the relationships.

I stop halfway through the movie each year, and of course the student in the intervening days look up the fate of govworks.com and the film's protagonists.  I hadn't really kept up with the career of Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, except to know that he was advising startups. One of my students just emailed me with some recent news of Kaleil. 

Quoting from Forbes:

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, indicted Tuzman in September for market manipulation and accounting fraud, claiming that Tuzman misled investors about the health of KIT Digital, the publicly-traded New York-based company Tuzman oversaw until 2012. But in addition to filing an indictment, Bharara’s office went to the unusual length of getting authorities in Colombia, where Tuzman has a major business venture, to arrest Tuzman and detain him pending extradition proceedings...

According to the court-filed document, after Tuzman was arrested, he was placed in an overcrowded jail called a Martires and became ill because he was exposed to the elements for 16 hours a day. He was transferred to La Picota in the middle of September, where he is housed in a 90 square-foot cell with two other inmates who are wanted for drug trafficking and murder. The redacted letter strongly implies that Tuzman has suffered violence or the threat of violence at the prison. In addition, Tuzman has no access to the outdoors and little to no access to natural light. Running water is available for two hours a day. Tuzman has lost 20 pounds in prison and his food is often spoiled. There are shared latrines located next to the food service area and he was once forced to use water from the latrines to wash dishes, the court-filed letter says.

A subsequent Forbes article states that Kaleil has been moved to another prison:

The conditions in which Tuzman was being held at La Picota angered Paul Gardephe, a federal judge in Manhattan, who urged federal prosecutors at a recent court conference to find a creative solution to the situation. The next day, Tuzman was moved out of La Picota and into the Attorney General’s facility because Colombia’s Attorney General, Eduardo Montealegre Lynett, had heard about Judge Gardephe’s concerns. Federal prosecutors want Tuzman to go through a Colombian extradition proceeding that could take six to nine months and fear he is a flight risk

In describing Tuzman’s move in court papers last week, federal prosecutors said the detention facility in which Tuzman is currently being held is designed to hold only 14 inmates, including high-profile defendants, and grants Tuzman access to a common room with a television, an outdoor patio, and visits from private physicians. Federal prosecutors said that Tuzman is also able to order and pay for meals from certain approved restaurants.

But Tuzman’s lawyers contrasted the rosy description presented by federal prosecutors. They claim that Tuzman is being housed in a 65 square-foot cell and for almost all hours of the day he is locked in solitary confinement in his cell and an adjacent 15-foot long corridor and 100 square-foot common room. There is no natural light in the confinement area so Tuzman cannot distinguish between day and night, except for the short periods he is escorted to a small patio area, Tuzman’s lawyers claim. His direct human interaction is limited to 10 minutes per day and the lights being broadcast into his cell mean it’s difficult for him to sleep. “He is displaying signs of depression and mood swings that are entirely out of character for him,” write Tuzman’s lawyers, who want the U.S. government to act to have Tuzman returned to the U.S. quickly.

I have to say, I'm saddened by this.  In the movie Kaleil comes across as a brash, sometimes foolish entrepreneur.  Market manipulation and accounting fraud?  Maybe.  But a jail in Colombia doesn't sound like the right fate for him.

h/t: Kaden Canfield

Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship | Bookmark

Recent Comments
Popular Threads
Search The Glom
The Glom on Twitter
Archives by Topic
Archives by Date
January 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    
Miscellaneous Links