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Reyes instead broke down in tears and was unable to go on for more than a minute, prompting a comforting gesture from the Judge (“Take your time, Mr. Reyes began again: “…I stand before you, Your Honor, a much different man than when I stepped down from Brocade three years ago…

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I spent this morning in federal court in San Francisco, where Greg L.Reyes, the former CEO of Brocade Communications, and the first public company executive to be tried and convicted of fraud in the stock options accounting dragnet that began three years ago, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and made to pay a million fine. Reyes of 10 counts of fraud for his role in a scheme to backdate the stock options grants he gave to his Brocade employees, a gambit to maximize the compensation tool’s value, and then doctor the company’s books to make it look like they were not actually “in-the-money” at the time of the grant.This has been a complex and, arguably, a watershed case.The issue of whether backdating is illegal, of whether the accounting rules-violations and financial damage to shareholders that it spawned are worthy of criminal prosecution, has been hotly debated ever since Mr. We’ve written about what founders and other business people can learn from this case ourselves, here and here.This experience has humbled me in more ways that I am capable of expressing in words, but I am determined to learn from it and become a better person because of it….

I ask for your mercy and your compassion and I promise [you that] you will not regret any leniency that you show me today.Thank you, Your Honor.” “This case has been described as stock option backdating case, but as we know, the backdating of stock options is not the crime.Intelligent minds will continue to disagree about this.But today made one thing very clear: In rendering Mr. Breyer handed down a big and universal lesson on leadership — that the material element of the crime in Mr.Reyes’ case was not the mechanics of it, the backdating, but the morality of it — Mr. Standing before a packed court room that was filled with his supporters — including friends, family, former Brocade employees, Mr.Reyes’ uncle, the out-going CFO of Google, George Reyes, and former tech investment banking star, Frank Quattrone (whose 2004 conviction for obstruction of justice was overturned in 2006) — Mr Reyes said: Pausing to clear his throat, Mr.