What Gives a Hedge-Fund Wife Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

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Hedge-fund husband.Photo: Rick Maiman/Bloomberg News

PTSD is more often associated with the effects of war or long-term abuse than the life of the hedge-fund wife. So what prompts one to reach such levels of stress and paranoia? In the case of Arlene Drimal, wife of former Galleon employee Craig Drimal, it didn't stem from anxiety about the market rebounding or fretting over what would happen if her husband went back to his first career as a bouncer, or even what it meant that she couldn't get prime-time reservations at Daniel. No, in Arlene's case, the symptoms arose from eighteen months of being monitored by the Feds for her husband's insider trading.

Last week, Craig tried to get the FBI wiretaps thrown out of Raj Rajaratnam's criminal trial using the argument that they included personal conversations between him and his wife. Although the judge called the FBI's decision to continue recording when the talk turned personal "nothing short of disgraceful," they were allowed in as evidence. Now that the wiretaps are out of the bag — and Craig has pleaded guilty — Arlene has given The Wall Street Journal access to letters she sent to a privacy-advocacy group recounting the horror of being treated like a common criminal.

Take, for example, what happened when FBI agents visited the Drimal home in Weston, Connecticut, in 2009 to inform them they had been under surveillance.

The FBI officials told Mr. Drimal they "had recorded his conversations for a very long time, that they knew 'everything' about him and his family and friends and mentioned other personal factors leaving the distinct impression that our phones were currently tapped," Ms. Drimal wrote.

The agents asked him to cooperate in their investigation and threatened to arrest him if he didn't, she wrote, adding that they said he could spend 25 years in prison.

The couple "went up to our bedroom to discuss how to ensure privacy," as they discussed how to find a lawyer, Ms. Drimal wrote. "Feeling trapped, I recommended that we go to CVS [a drugstore] in Westport to buy a prepaid phone," Ms. Drimal wrote.

"Immediately after I said that, FBI agent, David Makol, called and asked to speak to my husband. He warned him not to go out and get a prepaid phone," she wrote. "That terrified us and we felt panicked."

Actually, that sounds totally freaky. Just imagine if the Feds used these trauma-inducing tactics on people whose financial chicanery actually affected the rest of us?

*This post has been updated for clarification.

When the Feds Are Watching [WSJ]