A New Canaan hedge fund manager was subject of a news event last week after reporting he and his wife were being harassed on the phone by a man who allegedly wanted to break them up and then force the hedgie to eat pizza. The initial news report said the man was giving the hedgie a hard time because he worked at Bear Stearns and the man was obsessed with his wife. Police reports show that former Bear executive was James Higgins (goes by Jim) who founded Stamford-based Sorin Capital Management.
The caller, Donota Anthony Minicozzi, was arrested last week for threatening, harassment, and larceny via extortion. Higgins told the local cops he was getting three to five calls a day from his alleged harasser who said things like:
“Bear Stearns crook. Notre Dame sucks. See you at South Beach” The caller said his name was Steve and started the contact in December. He’d ask James “Did you have a good year, you crook? After bankrupting Bear Stearns. 7 bedrooms in New Canaan CT. Sue was good with one bedroom in NY in her dancing years.”
It turned out that James wife, Susan, did know Donato.[They are the mid-40's couple on the left in the photo] Police reports say she told him she dated him 20 years ago but broke up with him because he stole money from her. Donato actually has a criminal history in New Jersey for a larceny conviction in 1988 and in 2001 he was charged with forged writing. His warrant report says he now sales flooring.
Donato used disposable cells phones so the cops had to get the courts permission to ‘ping’ his number the next time he called. They were able to even track a call to a Planet Fitness in Brick,New Jersey. Apparently Donato liked to work out and do his harassing at the same time because when the cops called the gym someone who worked there said yea he’s in the gym at the same time the call was made.
Susan Higgins was getting her own phone calls – hang ups that is and then pizza started to be delivered to the house because Donota thought ‘it’s just a symbol that we can get to you (James) any way we want.’
How the cops charged him with larceny get’s a little fishy since he didn’t steal anything and the police report doesn’t show an extortion plan to change money ever happened. Recorded phone calls do show the ex-lover telling James “You can keep your fucking money and we are going to fucking torture your life. We are going to start sending shit to your house. The pizza is just a fucking start. Just wait till the fucking girls start coming to your house. Your life is going to be one miserable thing.”
I guess girls and pizza are not a welcome thing in the Higgins house.
When the Stamford cops finally found Donota and left a message for him to call the Special Victims unit back he lashed out one more time to James. On January 23rd at 8:51am he left an angry message about sex saying “Special victims-that should be the fucking people you screw every day. The people you take 3 percent every day. What you should be worried about is to screwing your fucking wife the one that used to screw everybody. I have film. You know your wife used to do that, and I had her plenty of times too. You should use some of the bedrooms you have in your house to screw her.”
Well now. A reporter for the Stamford Patch apparently was at Donato arraignment because he reported the New Jersey man turned himself in and told the cops he was sorry, had just been divorced, and well….was lonely. He even brought the cops one of the Motorola phones he used to make the calls.
Now apparently Donato wasn’t very good at Google research because a simple name search for James shows he left Bear Stearns in 2004 – as co-head of their commercial mortgages group – which would have been well before the bank started blowing itself up on crap resi mortgage bonds. Higgins also didn’t have a great year for his flagship hedge fund during the financial crisis. In 07 investor records show he was running $1.5 billion and had returns of over 20% but in 08 the fund suffered a 36% loss and he liquidated it in 09. Sorin Capital has other funds and started a second flagship fund which hopefully is doing ok. He did fork over near $8 million in 2008 for his newly built 7 bedroom , 7 bathroom , 9,600 square foot mansion on New Canaan’s tony Ponus Ridge Rd. Maybe Donato was a little jealous over Susan and James’s fancy house?
I called James at his Stamford office for comment today. At first the man who answered the phone said he wasn’t there. When I told him I was a reporter who was about to report James role in this little saga James quickly came to phone. He wasn’t thrilled the story would be reported and made a few off the record comments trying to convince me not to report it. He wouldn’t answer if he still feels threaten by Donato now that he’s arrested and has a protective order against him and just gave an official no comment. There is nothing in the police report saying Susan and Donato had recent contact/relations before the alleged harassment started so besides memories from 20 years ago we don’t really know what motivated Donato threatening calls and food deliveries to the Higgins.
Donato is schedule to be back in court this month. It’s not clear if the Higgins still allow pizza deliveries to their mansion.