* Former Wall Street trader accused of fraud wants TV show
* Ross Mandell says show about “clearing my name”
* No TV deal yet, but says he has “serious interest”
By Karina Ioffee
NEW YORK, July 26 (Reuters) - A former Wall Street trader accused with associates of swindling more than $140 million from investors is angling for his own reality television show, eager to prove his innocence in the court of public opinion.
Ross Mandell, former head of Sky Capital Holdings, was indicted in July 2009 on charges he and five others defrauded investors in a scheme U.S. prosecutors claim pressured people to buy stock from what they called a “trans-Atlantic boiler room” with operations in London and New York.
Released on $5 million bail, the 53-year-old Mandell faces up to 25 years in prison, if found guilty.
Mandell has yet to secure a television deal for his show, but insists he has “serious interest” from TV networks. Eager to prove he’s got a hot story and a cast of intriguing characters, including his wife and his mixed martial arts buddies, Mandell has already begun filming.
“This is not about money for me,” Mandell said in explaining his rationale for the show, tentatively titled “Facing Life.”
“This is about facing the public, clearing my name and the legacy of my wife and children,” he said.
He also wants to humanize himself.
“People think that I‘m a beast, that I‘m an animal,” he told Reuters. “I‘m not...I‘m a loving human being, I‘m a sober man, I‘m God-fearing and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
If he gets a TV show, Mandell would be among a growing number of people who have sought redemption on prime-time TV after getting in trouble with the law.
Following his impeachment, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich appeared on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” NFL football star Michael Vick, convicted of animal cruelty, was on the BET network with a show, “The Michael Vick Project,” in an attempt to reveal his softer side that included scenes of him volunteering at an animal shelter.
Mandell, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., claims he was set up by the U.S. government because of his work helping bring U.S. companies to the London Stock Exchange.
“I took the business from them, that’s why I‘m being targeted now,” Mandell said.
And, like the boxer he is in his spare time, Mandell refuses to go down without a fight. “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees,” he said.