When former pharmaceutical executive Andrew G. Bodnar pleaded guilty to white-collar crime in 2009, the judge didn’t throw the book at him—he ordered him to write one.
Reflect upon “the criminal behavior in this case so that others similarly situated may be guided in avoiding such behavior,” said the judgment from U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina in Washington. And make it 75,000 words.
The finished book, written during Dr. Bodnar’s two-year probation, has been submitted into the court record. His lawyer—who says he had never heard of such a punishment for a crime—says the former Bristol-Myers Squibb executive has now completed his sentence, in a case in which he was accused of providing false information to regulators. The charge stemmed from negotiations with a generic drug company seeking to copy Bristol’s blockbuster blood thinner, Plavix.
Dr. Bodnar, 64 years old, didn’t serve any jail time. He was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and serve two years of unsupervised probation, with a “special condition” that he write the book.
Upon reflection, the former Harvard English major isn’t so sure his experience could serve as a cautionary tale for others.
“This hell is so particular, that no judge’s order could ever generalize it,” writes Dr. Bodnar in his tome.
Setting out to tell his tale, he contemplated the literary works of several greats. In a prologue he writes that he considered “Call me a Schlemiel.” Or, “It was the worst of times,” as opening lines.
In the book, Dr. Bodnar describes reading Dickens’ “David Copperfield” as a child. At Harvard, he wrote his honors thesis on “The End of Life in Dickens.” Other literary influences, says his lawyer, include Dostoevski, Joseph Conrad and John Updike.
The sweeping 253-page manuscript details Dr. Bodnar’s life from his escape from his native Hungary after the Soviet invasion of 1956, to his dust up with law enforcement over Plavix’s patent.
The Justice Department had a “mistaken belief that I had made a statement to the government that I knew to be false,” wrote Dr. Bodnar, who declined to be interviewed for this article. He wrote that the Justice Department “was not averse to destroying an innocent life.”