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Monday
Nov222010

Fall of Healthcare Hedge Fund Star

In 2001, Joseph Skowron faced what may have been more than just a career dilemma -- should he pursue a future in medicine? Or go for the money and head to Wall Street? Skowron, at the time in a residency program at Harvard no less, and ignoring the pleas of his advisor to continue on the path toward becoming an orthopedic surgeon, left it all behind and set his sights on New York City.

His story is a risible throwback to the yuppie '80s:

Dr. Skowron became a health-care analyst for the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors LP before quickly moving on to another well-known hedge fund, Millennium Partners LLC. By 2003, he had joined FrontPoint Partners LLC, a hedge fund where he soon would co-manage more than $1 billion in health-care investments. With the big jobs came a 10,190-square-foot home in Greenwich, Conn., whose value was assessed in 2010 at slightly less than $6 million.

Dr. Skowron traveled in elite political and social circles, as a major donor to John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, according to campaign finance records, and a member of the exclusive Monticello Motor Club, an automotive resort and track outside of New York City. The club's sign-up fees start at $25,000 and among the members are racer Jeff Gordon and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, the president of the club said.

Along the way, the 41-year-old husband and father amassed a collection of luxury cars that has included a blue Ferrari 458 and a black Porsche Cayenne, according to state records.

On Nov. 2, life in the fast lane came to a halt. The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and the Securities and Exchange Commission unveiled an insider-trading case, charging French doctor Yves M. Benhamou with sharing confidential drug-trial data with a hedge fund.

The fund in question? FrontPoint Partners. The amount they prevented in losses through the secret information? Allegedly $30 million.

Skowron was a man heavily involved in the philanthropy world, doing medical stints in Cuba, Kosovo and India. Since the announcement of the insider trading case, however, Skowron has also taken leave from his volunteer medical position with AmeriCares.

Insider trading cases are always difficult to anaylze and must be taken on a case-by-case basis before one can pass judgement. Yet, the same question is almost always asked -- why are those individuals who least need the money seem the most prone to engaging in these actions to get a larger cut of the pie?

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