Hedge funds destroyed a company trying to cure cancer – chapter  10

Hedge funds destroyed a company trying to cure cancer – chapter 10

This is Chapter 10 of a 15 chapter series. The entire series is listed here

On April 20, three weeks after the advisory panel vote, and one week after Dr. Scher’s missive appeared
in The Cancer Letter, Forbes journalist Matthew Herper published a story arguing that there was a good
chance the FDA would not approve Dendreon’s cancer treatment outright. “If the agency wants to ask
Dendreon for more data, it certainly has some outs,” Herper wrote. “The FDA changed the wording of the
Three days later, Dr. Maha Hussain, one of the panel doctors who, along with Dr. Scher, had quickly
voted “No” on the bogus question, wrote a letter to the FDA arguing that Dendreon’s treatment should not
be approved. This letter, like Dr. Scher’s, was addressed to FDA commissioners and was presumably
confidential. And this letter, like Dr. Sher’s, immediately found its way to The Cancer Letter, which posted
it just three days after it was written.
Dr. Hussain’s arguments were precisely the same as those employed by Dr. Scher and the whispering
folks on Wall Street. “The recommendations for approval…are based on data that can only be
characterized as best as ‘suggestive’ of possible benefit,” she wrote. “From the scientific and procedural
aspects, in general, it would seem that at the end of the day what should determine a positive verdict in
any therapeutic trial is the strength of the evidence as critically reviewed by an Advisory Committee…with
clear guidance on the question posed to the committee within the framework of the regulatory guidelines
and requirements of the FDA for approval.” [Italics mine]
That is, Dr. Hussain—like Dr. Scher, the singing Sendek, and whoever was feeding the journalist Matthew
Herper–was suggesting that the FDA panel had voted on the “wrong question.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Aschoff, the physician-impersonating financial analyst who’d set a target for
Dendreon’s stock price to dive to $1.50, was telling journalists that the FDA panel would not have voted to
approve Dendreon’s treatment if it weren’t for the “substantial” rewording of “the question.” On April 25,
Aschoff issued another damaging report, this one asserting, once again, that the FDA would ignore its
panel because the panel had voted on the “wrong question.”
By this time Dendreon supporters were busily circulating transcripts showing that the FDA panelists had,
in fact, voted on the legal question. The supporters had also discovered Dr. Scher’s ties to Novacea,
Cougar Biotechnology, Proquest, and Michael Milken, and began explaining to all and sundry that
ProQuest and Novacea would cash in if Dendreon were not approved. Moreover, the supporters had
revealed that Dr. Hussain, the second letter writer, had also done work for the Milken-invested Novacea,
and was a member of the “Therapeutic Consortium” of Milken’s Prostate Cancer Foundation.
On April 26, Matthew Herper of Forbes published another article – this one repeating the arguments in Dr.
Hussain’s letter. Herper, who had been told about Scher’s conflicts of interest, had apparently decided to
investigate. This investigation seemed to have involved nothing more than asking Dr. Scher if he had any
conflicts of interest. In his April 26 article, Herper reported that Scher’s spokesman said “that Scher had
nothing to do with his letter leaking [and appearing in The Cancer Letter], and that he knew of no family
members who would benefit financially either way if Provenge were approved.”

To reinforce Dr. Scher’s credibility, and to make Dendreon’s supporters look silly, Herper added that the
supporters had alleged that “Scher’s wife works for a hedge fund that might be short Dendreon…This is
not true. She works in human resources for a nursing home company that could not conceivably benefit
materially from any news about Dendreon.”
Aside from ignoring Scher’s ties to Milken’s ProQuest Investments, which would profit handsomely if
Dendreon were not approved, Herper misconstrued the information about Scher’s wife. The truth was,
Dendreon’s supporters had revealed that Scher’s wife had a cousin, Barry Lafer, who was a hedge fund
manager. Phone records legally obtained by Deep Capture show that Scher called Lafer, at his office, on
April 23, while Herper’s article was in the works.
But the main point of Herper’s article was that “all this debate” (i.e. the Wall Street whispering and the
conjectures of two conflicted doctors) made “Dendreon an even riskier stock than other biotechs.” Herper
added that according to unnamed “others,” Dendreon’s “studies do not rise to the level usually required
for approval.”
Besides being false, this was another way of suggesting that the FDA panelists, all experts in their field,
voted in favor of Dendreon because they had misunderstood the standards for approval.
They had been asked the “wrong question.”

On April 29, Bloomberg News reported that Dendreon’s shares were being sold at “a record pace” as
investors “bet the company’s experimental prostate-cancer drug will fail to win approval from U.S.
Then, on May 4, there was yet another letter. This one was from a University of Washington biostatistician
named Dr. Thomas Fleming. It is perhaps noteworthy that Fleming had done work for Gerson Lehrman,
an outfit that is owned by former hedge fund managers.
Gerson Lehrman has a remarkable business model which can best be described as “institutionalized
bribery.” Clients, mostly hedge funds, hire Gerson to put doctors and other experts on the payroll. In
exchange for the payments, the doctors agree to provide hedge funds with “insight” (some say they
provide inside information) about clinical trials of drugs that are marketed by public companies. The
doctors also agree to talk to reporters (and perhaps also to the FDA) about these drugs.
In one famous case that pit generic drug manfuacturer Biovail against Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital and
other hedge funds in his network, it was clearly established that doctors hired by Gerson Lehrman on
behalf of the hedge funds actually lied to reporters (which could well explain, of course, why they were
Like the letters from Dr. Scher and Dr. Hussain, within days of its creation Dr. Fleming’s missive
miraculously ended up in the hands of The Cancer Letter, which eagerly published it.
“Reportedly Scher felt motivated to write the letter after being kept awake the night following the [advisory
panel],” wrote Dr. Fleming. “I also was kept awake the night following the panel.”
In addition to knowing about Dr. Scher’s sleeping habits, Dr. Fleming shared Dr. Scher’s concern that
approving Dendron’s treatment might derail Asentar, the drug that was being developed by Milken’s
Novacea. How “could one defend internal consistency at FDA if [Provenge] were to be approved before
the [Asentar] trial?” Fleming asked.

By this time, Dendreon’s supporters (a rambunctious bunch) were screaming and howling about the
dishonesty of those who had suggested that the advisory panel had been asked the “wrong question.” So
the party line changed a bit. Now it was that the panelists who had voted in Dendreon’s favor must have
been somehow confused. Dendreon trials did not “provide ‘substantial evidence of efficacy’, Dr. Fleming
wrote. “Rather at best, these trials provide plausibility of efficacy…”
I’ll leave it to the reader to parse the difference between “plausibility” and “substantial evidence.” But
clearly, this letter was yet another strange occurrence.
Four days later – May 8, 2007 — the FDA told Dendreon that it was, for now, rejecting the company’s
application for Provenge, a paradigm-shattering vaccine for those terminally ill with prostate cancer.

The SEC’s partial data shows that more than 12 million Dendreon shares “failed to deliver” on Thursday,
May 10, 2007. Given that traders are permitted three days to produce stock before their trades are
registered as “failures to deliver,” it is clear that hedge funds had sold the 12 million shares of phantom
stock on Monday, May 7 — the day before the FDA made its decision. This suggests that criminals were
aware of this imminent decision. Of course, we do not know who the criminals were because, as far as
the SEC is concerned, naked short selling is a big secret.
But we do know that a mere 10 hedge funds held large numbers of put options (a bet that the stock price
would fall) as of March 31, a few days after the advisory panel’s nearly unanimous vote in Dendreon’s
favor. Obviously, these hedge funds had remarkable foresight concerning a long-shot event (the FDA’s
decision to go against the overwhelming recommendation of its advisory panel to approve a drug for
terminally ill cancer patients).
Seven of those hedge funds belong to a mischievous Wall Street network that is known for such foresight.
Several of those seven hedge funds have been implicated in naked short selling infractions. And
whenever any of these hedge funds target a company, that company inevitably is victimized by a great
deal of phantom stock.
Five of these hedge funds I have already named. All have ties to Michael Milken or his close associates.
Some have ties to the Mafia. They are: Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Perceptive Advisors,
Millennium Capital, Steve Cohen’s Sigma Capital, and Pequot Capital.
In preparation for naming the sixth, we need to hearken back to September 2001, when two airplanes
crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one airplane crashed into the Pentagon, and a
fourth dove into a field in Pennsylvania. On the day before that attack, a short seller named Anthony
Elgindy called his broker and ordered him to liquidate one of his accounts, giving the explanation that a
big event was about to occur. Mr. Elgindy said that on the following day (that is, on September 11, 2001)
the market was going to lose two-thirds of its value.
After the 9-11 attacks, that broker notified the FBI of Elgindy’s eerie prediction, and the FBI launched an
investigation. In the course of this investigation, the government learned that Elgindy had sold massive
amounts of phantom stock, and that he routinely blackmailed and threatened companies that he was
selling short. The government also learned that Elgindy had ties to terrorist outfits in the Middle East, and
for a time prosecutors argued in court that Elgindy had advance knowledge of the 9-11 disaster.
Ultimately, though, Elgindy was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison for the more demonstrable
crimes of stock manipulation and paying bribes to two FBI officials who fed him information from the FBI’s
National Crime Information System (one of those FBI agents actually kept Elgindy informed of the
progress of the investigation into Elgindy’s connection to the 9-11 attacks). In June, 2009, it was learned
that the SEC’s inspector general had begun investigating SEC officials who are also alleged to have

collaborated with Elgindy, either by providing inside information on commission investigations, or
launching destructive, dead-end investigations of companies that Elgindy was selling short.
Elgindy, like Bernard Madoff (the Dendreon short and Ponzi schemer who helped write the SEC’s rules
on naked short selling), is believed to have ties to organized crime. He once worked for a now-defunct
Mafia-connected brokerage called Blinder Robinson (known on the Street as Blind’em, Rob-em), and a
source close to the Elgindy investigation has told Deep Capture that, shortly before Elgindy appeared for
sentencing, Russian mobsters forced Elgindy to saw off the tip of one of his own fingers as a reminder not
to squeal on other members of his network.
There is evidence – including transcripts of Elgindy’s private internet message board – that shows that
Elgindy routinely attacked public companies in collaboration with certain hedge fund managers. A
significant number of these hedge fund managers were part of the Milken network.
One of them was Jeffery Thorp, whose father once worked with the Genovese organized crime family to
develop a method for cheating Las Vegas casinos. The government’s investigation of Elgindy eventually
led to Thorp, who was charged in 2006 with providing fraudulent “death spiral” PIPEs financing to 22
companies. The SEC’s case, one of the rare instances in which the commission has identified a naked
short seller by name, makes it clear that Thorp sold massive amounts of phantom stock, ultimately
destroying the 22 companies that had received his fraudulent PIPEs.
Recall that similar “death spiral” PIPEs were arranged by Carl Icahn’s Ladenburg Thalmann, ending in the
phantom stock ruination of more than 20 companies. Icahn is the “prominent” investor who owes his
status as a billionaire to Michael Milken and the Mafia-connected Zev Wolfson. Icahn is also the
“prominent” investor who, along with Ziff Brothers and Steve Cohen, called ImClone immediately before
The Cancer Letter published the “leaked” news of an FDA decision. And Icahn is the “prominent” investor
whose Mafia-connected former employee was the last man to see Alain Chalem (a Mafia-connected
naked short seller) before Chalem’s head was riddled with bullets by Russian mobsters.
Do you still not believe that this network has ties to the Mob? Consider that Thorp’s father, in addition to
working for the Genovese organized crime family, was the single most important player in the stock
manipulation network that Milken operated in the 1980s.
The father, Edward Thorp, ran a hedge fund called Princeton-Newport. The FBI eventually raided that
operation, hauling away phone recordings and documents. Thorp was not ultimately charged, but the
evidence that the FBI retrieved that day featured prominently in the prosecution’s 98-count indictment of
Milken. Indeed, people who worked on the case say that the Princeton Newport evidence was far more
important to the prosecution than the testimony of Milken’s more famous co-conspirator, Ivan Boesky.
Boesky is widely credited with putting Milken away, but actually he provided the authorities with very little
information. When asked to provide more, Boesky told the authorities that he feared that he would be
killed because Milken had “friends in Las Vegas.”
Do you still not believe that people in this network employ precisely the same ruthless tactics? Consider
that when the FBI investigated Elgindy, it also stumbled upon a hedge fund called Gryphon Partners. One
of Gryphon’s portfolio managers, Jonathan Daws, was eventually charged with participating in various
short selling schemes hatched by Elgindy and his bribed FBI agent. In pleading guilty, Daws said, “others
at Gryphon made trades in some of the relevant stocks, independent of me, and not at my direction.”
Daws was convicted. No charges were immediately filed against Gryphon.
However, in 2006, the SEC sued Gryphon for providing fraudulent “death spiral” PIPEs financing to 35
companies. Like Thorp and the hedge funds introduced by Carl Icahn’s Ladenburg Thalmann, Gryphon
provided its PIPEs financing knowing that it would cause stock prices to fall. The hedge fund then

hammered the companies with naked short selling, sending their stocks into “death spirals.” Most of the
35 companies were destroyed.
So, at this point in the story, we have identified more than 70 companies that have been vaporized by
“prominent” investors, all part of the same network.
At any rate, Gryphon Partners, the Elgindy-connected, PIPEs-financing, 35 company-destroying, SECsued, naked short selling “death spiral” finance house, was founded by Reid S. Walker and G. Stacy
Smith, , two “prominent” investors who have since gone on to greater things. Messieurs Walker and Smith
now run a hedge fund called WS Ventures.
And WS Ventures is the sixth of our seven “colorful” hedge funds that had the foresight to own large
numbers of put options in Dendreon at the end of March 2007, just after the seemingly fantastic news that
the advisory panel had voted overwhelmingly in Dendreon’s favor; and during the period when criminal
naked short sellers (don’t know who they were; the SEC keeps that a big secret) were pounding
Dendreon with phantom stock; and just before the disastrous news that the FDA had, for the first time in
history, rejected the advice of its own advisory panel to approve a treatment for terminally ill patients.
A few months after that remarkable attack, Dendreon, on the verge of collapse and desperate for money
to support its sabotaged prostate cancer treatment, went ahead and signed a deal to receive its first
“death spiral” PIPEs finance.