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Crime writer Patricia Cornwell wins $51 million judgment against financial managers

Freya PetersenGlobalPost.com

Patricia Cornwell, the crime writer, has been awarded nearly $51 million by a federal jury in a lawsuit against her former financial management company, New York firm Anchin, Block & Anchin. The Boston-based author, known for her series of novels featuring medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, claimed the firm acted negligently and in breach of its fiduciary duties in managing the financial affairs of her and her partner, Dr. Staci Gruber over four years.

According to the Boston Globe, Cornwell contended that Anchin and its former principal Evan Snapper "personally benefited from their dealings with Cornwell and cost her and her company tens of millions of dollars in losses or unaccounted revenue over four years." 

The Associated Press cited Cornwell as testifying that Snapper and Anchin changed her investing strategy without telling her.  Such mismanagement caused her to lose $89 million, with her net worth dwindling to $13 million when she was more accustomed to making around $15 million a year.

She told the Globe that she and Gruber discovered the mishandling when reviewing her ­finances and from that time on, "worked our own crime scene, so to speak."

She told the Globe: "There was a lot of money that went out, and we can find no documentation for it."

She said among their most alarming discoveries was finding a $5,000 check that Snapper wrote claiming it to be a bat mitzvah gift Cornwell had given to his daughter. Cornwell fired the company in 2009.

The Boston Herald cited a statement by Cornwell as saying: "We are deeply gratified by this victory. This case was about a lot more than financial mismanagement. It is our belief that Anchin, Block & Anchin not only took advantage of us, they also tried to damage our reputations and put us in legal jeopardy."

Lawyers for the firm said they would review their legal options, including whether to appeal.

The firm released a statement that said: "For more than 90 years, the professionals at Anchin have built a reputation for honesty and integrity. The firm will endure ­despite today’s outcome."