“Larry Noodles” is the nickname I got when I was an inmate at Otisville Federal prison. I had stolen a pound of spiral noodles from the prison warehouse where I had worked for 13 cents an hour. I cooked the noodles in a plastic bag, with a teaspoon of salt and a small amount of water. The noodles steamed in the microwave. I let them sit out for a few hours while they softened. I took them back to the cubicles where the inmates slept. I hid the noodles in a bag that hung from the wall of my cubicle. I hung my coat over the noodles in order to hide them from the guards. I went outside and sat in the sun near the parking lot in order to get a sun tan, even though it was the fall. A Russian inmate named Dima walked by and scolded me for sitting so close to the parking lot, he warned me that I could get in trouble. I was clearly within the boundary and was not in the parking lot. I should have listened to Dima.
On November 23, 2014 Senior Specialist Officer S. Grogan saw me and thought I was involved in criminal activity, ie., smuggling contraband from visitors near the parking lot. Grogan searched me. I was clean. Grogan then went to my cubicle and searched. Grogan found the bag of noodles. Grogan interrogated me about the noodles. I told him I found them in the dining area. Grogan said that the kitchen staff said that they never use spiral noodles. Grogan said that I must have stolen the noodles from the warehouse where I worked. Grogan was very upset about the noodles. I mistakenly thought that Grogan would calm down if I told him that I thought I could bring the noodles to the bunks from the warehouse. When the guys heard that I ratted myself out to Grogan they got very mad at me. What kind of shlocky lawyer rats himself out to the Feds?
Grogan wrote up a disciplinary report. I was moved from my bunk and put in a different bunk in a less desirable location. I lost visitor privileges for a short period of time. Grogan tagged my bag of noodles and put it in his office as evidence of my crime. After Grogan left for the day another officer took over. Officer Krandal sat in the office for the night shift. Krandal got along well with the inmates. An inmate named Jewmark took the bag of noodles out of the office and brought it to me, as a gesture of kindness. I don’t know whether Jewmark snuck it out of the office or whether Krandal let him take it. I thanked Jewmark for the noodles but told him that I was in no mood to eat noodles that evening.
I was locked up in the Otisville prison camp for 18 months after I pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud. I was one of many closing attorneys in seven real estate closings located in New Haven involving subprime mortgages. These transactions occurred in the fall of 2007 and one in the spring of 2008, just as the real estate market crashed.
On October 5, 2010 the Justice Department faxed a subpoena to me requesting copies of these closing files. My attorney told me I had nothing to worry about, as the Justice Department was issuing subpoenas all over the country looking at subprime mortgages that were in default after the market crash.
In early February of 2014 the Justice Department contacted my attorney and said that they wanted to indict me for mortgage fraud. They also said that I could cooperate. They said that if I cooperated I would still have to plead guilty to a felony and probably do some jail time, depending on the sentencing judge. They wanted me to rat out two other attorneys who I did closings with back in 2007. I didn’t remember much about a couple of closings, which didn’t take more than a couple of hour, that I did many years before. Nor did I remember much about closing attorneys from the Levinson Law Office whom the Feds wanted me to rat out. Plus I didn’t see any point in cooperating if I wasn’t offered much in return.
I was indicted on February 22, 2013. I pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud on October 3, 2013. I was sentenced on March 20, 2014. I turned myself in to Otisville prison on May 21, 2014. I was released on November 2, 2015.
My restitution order was over a million dollars. The Feds added up the gross amount of the mortgages that went under and came up with a loss amount for the purposes of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Feds never credited me, or my co-conspirators, for monies the banks recovered in their foreclosure sales, when calculating the loss amount. The large loss amount put me in a sentencing guidelines range of between 4 – 5 years incarceration. Most of the banks did not make any claims for restitution. I ultimately was jointly responsible for a restitution order of about $400K payable to Wells Fargo Bank. I pay $300 a month towards the restitution order.
In 2018 Wells Fargo Bank entered into an agreement to pay the Justice Department over $2 billion to settle a lawsuit where Wells was sued for violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery And Enforcement Act, the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the Injunctions Against Fraud Act, negligence, gross negligence, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, and aiding and abetting. One of the mortgages I closed was included in the settlement with Wells. I have tried to get my criminal case reopened in Federal court on the legal grounds that a victim of my crime cannot also be a co-conspirator. So far I haven’t had much luck with my motion.
Although my restitution order is $400K, I only made about $4K in legal fees for the seven closings in which I pleaded guilty. There were numerous individuals in my case, who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit profits, who were never indicted. For example, one of the straw buyers used by the ringleaders of my conspiracy, named Ronald Holder, never got indicted. The sellers whom I represented, Israelis who controlled a local real estate company called Team Realty, never got charged even though they profited with hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit profits. I had no idea that these “respectable” real estate investors were selling run down properties to straw buyers who had no intention of making the mortgage payments. Had I known I would have never represented these shyster idiots.
The other individuals involved in my case, my co-conspirators, all cooperated with the Federal government and planned to testify against me if I went to trial. My attorney told me that it was hopeless to go to trial. I thought I had some good defenses. I mostly represented the sellers in the transactions. I never held any deposit checks, I never signed any HUD forms and I didn’t even calculate the closing figures. The buyer’s attorney, and his secretary, did most of the work. The buyer’s attorney was part of a larger conspiracy with a local realtor, named Levitin, who was singled out by the Feds as the ringleader. Levitin also cooperated with the Feds. Levitin was looking at ten years in jail if he didn’t rat anyone out. I can’t really blame him for coping a deal. The Feds have far too much power to force a guy to say whatever he thinks the Feds want him to say. If the Feds can indict a ham sandwich I was pastrami on rye.
From the date the Feds served me with a subpoena until the date I checked into Otisville prison, almost four years later, I lived on pins and needles, with an albatross on my neck. I had a Federal indictment hanging over my head. I was still allowed to practice law, but the pressure was unbearable. I saw a therapist during this period of time, Dr. Brian Kelly. He introduced me to neurofeedback, which I found to be very beneficial and helped me handle the stress. My prison experience was no less stressful. One ongoing stressor was replaced with another.
I wrote diaries in prison in order to relieve my stress. As a lawyer I constantly wrote briefs, letters, memos, etc… In prison I had no outlet for my writing skills. I began to send my stories out to a small group of friends and relatives on the outside. I was able to email in prison. It cost $3 an hour to use the computers to send and receive emails. Eventually my emails reached a greater number of people, as my friends forwarded my stories to others. I emailed my stories to inmates whom I knew who had been released from Otisville.
Eventually Jewish inmates on the inside found out that I was sending stories about them to people on the outside. Inmates’ families started to read my stories. The inmates got very upset at me. They yelled and cursed at me in the shul. I assured them that I would not write about them anymore. I couldn’t control myself. I continued to write stories, but I told my friends not to forward my stories to anyone. I never promised them that I wouldn’t write about new inmates who were entering the camp. Inmates were constantly coming and going.
The inmates didn’t discover my new stories until I started posting them on Paul Bass’ website, ie., the New Haven Independent. Paul had heard about my stories. He asked me for permission to publish them. I agreed.
Eventually the inmates discovered that I was blogging from prison. My fellow inmates got very angry. They made life very difficult for me. They dumped soup on my bunk. They yelled at me and harassed me every chance they got. They stole my prison watch. One inmate used my winter hat as a toilet. I decided to suspend my blogs from prison until after I was released from Otisville. I still wrote stories in my diary every day but I didn’t make them public. I sent them out to a very select group of family and friends. After several weeks the guys settled down. They stopped harassing me about the blog. By this time I didn’t have much time before my release date.
After I was released I started this website. I continued to write about Otisville, as well as about the criminal justice system and the Department of Justice. It wasn’t easy to adjust to civilian life. I froze up whenever I saw a cop. My personal life was turned upside down. Nothing was the same. It felt great to be out of prison, but change is stressful, whether it is for the good, or for the bad. My personal relationships changed. Nobody understood the trauma I had just experienced. Nobody seemed to want to understand what I had just been through. I was a criminal. Criminals are supposed to go to jail. I kept in touch with my friends from Otisville. Slowly I adjusted to the real world. I forgave people who were insensitive. I can’t change the world, but I can change myself.
After I got out of Otisville I expected people on the outside to be much kinder than the misfits who threatened me in prison. I was wrong. The officers at the Probation Office intimidated me with threats of reincarceration. They harassed me for restitution money even though I didn’t have the means to make much money. They wouldn’t let me leave the State of Connecticut, even just to visit a friend in New York. They even asked me why I was “wasting” my time writing a blog. For three years I was subjected to surprise visits at my home, as well as constant interrogation.
A few months after I got out of Otisville I took on a person who was far more cruel, devious and depraved than anyone I had met in Otisville, or anyone I had encountered in my entire life. I had known the well respected and powerful Rabbi Daniel Greer for almost 25 years. I was told in confidence, by Rabbi Muroff, that Rabbi Greer was a pedophile who raped a number of male teenage students at his Yeshiva. I knew many former students from the Greer yeshiva, as well as the administrators and teachers. The yeshiva was falling apart at the time I was released from prison. Rumors about Mr. Greer were going around all over New Haven, as well as New York. Mr. Greer and his supporters intimidated and threatened anyone who dared to publicize his crimes. I was not going to be intimidated by Mr. Greer. I exposed Mr. Greer in my blog. Mr. Greer sued me for defamation. I refused to back down. The rest is history. You can read about it in my blog. Mr. Greer is now sitting in a jail cell in solitary confinement in State prison. Mr. Greer was sentenced to 20 years suspended after 12. There is a $20 million child rape judgment against Mr. Greer.
My exposure of Mr. Greer brought my blog much publicity, as well as credibility. My blogs about Otisville prison got the attention of the media when high profile guys were sentenced to Otisville, such as Michael Cohen, Michael “the Situation” Sorrentino, and others. The New York Times ran a couple of stories about Otisville. I spent six months helping the Times reporter with his article about Otisville. I also spent significant time helping a reporter for the Yale Daily News write an extensive article about Yale graduate Rabbi Daniel Greer. I also got quoted extensively by the tabloids when they wanted to know about “The Situation.” I’ve provide material to the New York Post, the Associated Press and the Daily News. I have written articles for The New Haven Independent. A number of other blogs post links to my articles. I have been invited to speak at shuls and universities about prison life and the criminal justice system. I have been invited to speak on WBAI and the New Haven Independent radio show as well as the Heshy radio show.
I am continuing the fight for peace, justice and the American way. But I need to pay my bills. Please DONATE to the cause!
Larry Noodles On HBO Vice:
Larry Noodles On Bill Maher