Photo: Stephen L. Weiss
“The trading room fell quiet as Vernon Albright stormed across the ﬂoor, the thick carpet doing little to mute the anger evident in each step. The traders had seen him this way before and feared the worst…”So begins UNHEDGED, the newest book by renowned hedge fund manager Stephen Weiss.
Weiss has a storied career on Wall Street, and has been an executive at Salomon Brothers, SAC Capital, and Lehman Brothers while also contributing to CNBC’s Fast Money.
UNHEDGED chronicles the tale of billionaire hedge fund manager Vernon Albright, who has struck a deal with the devil – shady oilman Buck Hendricks – to enhance his riches and avoid jail time.
We’ve got a sneak peek of the first two chapters, published below. You can find copies of UNHEDGED available at Amazon.
The trading room fell quiet as Vernon Albright stormed
across the ﬂoor, the thick carpet doing little to mute the
anger evident in each step. The traders had seen him this
way before and feared the worst. They tried hard to fade
into the background, averting their eyes and punching
phantom stock symbols into their keyboards. As Albright
passed each desk, the dread of being his next victim gave
way to barely contained sighs of relief.
Albright stopped at the desk of Parthenon’s newest em-
ployee, towering over his target. His booming voice echoed
oﬀ the walls. “Sell the fucking stock.”
“But the shares are only down a quarter. I know they’ll
The portfolio manager’s ﬁrst mistake was putting on the
two-hundred-million-dollar position but that was, after all,
what he was hired to do. His second misstep, perhaps the
more egregious error in judgment, was talking back to Ver-
non Albright. Freedom of speech was an unknown concept
at Parthenon Capital, where only one opinion mattered.
That and bottom line results. He had been at Parthenon for
all of three weeks, but it was not the ﬁrst time he regretted
leaving his highly paid position at Morgan Stanley.
“What don’t you understand? This isn’t open to a vote. I
said to sell the fucking position. And by the way, you moron,
on 20 million shares, that quarter is costing me ﬁve
The man was dazed; he felt like he had just been
smacked across the back of his head with a two by four.
He knew Albright’s reputation for churning employees and
had aired it as a concern during the recruiting process. Al-
bright’s response now echoed in his mind. “I never should
have hired those people; they didn’t have your experience.
You’re diﬀerent, much more accomplished, someone I can
trust and give complete autonomy.” He took the job. What’s
my downside? Even if I get ﬁred after a year, I’ll have made
more money than I earned the last ﬁve. Against the advice of
many, he rejected a substantial counter bid from Morgan
and accepted Albright’s more generous oﬀer.
“This isn’t what we agreed upon. You said I could trade
without your supervision.”
“Tell you what, genius,” Albright responded in his most
condescending tone, “going forward you can trade all you
like without my supervision because we’re done. Actually,
you’re done. Down ﬁve million in less than one month is a
record. I have no intention of letting you pad your legacy.”
He knew it wasn’t unusual for tempers to ﬂare when
the market got hit although he had never witnessed, nor
been the victim of, such a public ﬂogging. He also realised
that oﬀering further rebuttal was senseless. Composure
barely intact, the best defence at this point was to grab a
cup of coﬀee and hope the incident would die down until
it could be discussed in more private surroundings. He
pushed his chair away from the desk, gaining distance from
Albright’s menacing glare. As beaten down as a chastised
puppy, he rose from his seat and started toward the pantry.
From Master of the Universe to poor bastard in less than a
“You’re going in the wrong direction, just like the stocks
you buy,” Albright bellowed as a wry smile spread across
his lips. “The elevators are that way.” He extended his arm
and pointed toward the reception area.
Joseph, Albright’s personal bodyguard and head of
Parthenon’s small security detail stepped in. “It’s probably
best to do as Mr. Albright suggests,” he advised in a voice
that was slightly above a whisper. “He doesn’t usually
change his mind. Your personal items will be sent to your home.”
His humiliation was pushed aside by anger, rage evident
in his eyes and the clenching of his ﬁsts. He took a step
toward Albright but Joseph’s vise-like grip caught his arm,
holding him in place.
“Time to go,” Joseph said while placing his other hand
on the man’s back, directing him toward the exit.
“Parthenon isn’t for the weak or the stupid,” Albright
remarked for all to hear as the latest casualty exited through
the glass doors.
And so ended another “career” at Parthenon. It wasn’t
the shortest tenure on record. That distinction belonged
to a portfolio manager who lasted all of three days. His
mistake? He went out to lunch and returned an hour later.
The markets didn’t take time oﬀ during the trading day
and neither did Parthenon. He didn’t even make it past the
lobby when he returned. His electronic building pass had
already been voided.
Albright was still incensed as he returned to his oﬃce.
He was tired of these high priced hires squandering the
opportunity he had given them and damn tired of having
to go through the inconvenience of bringing in someone
new. He sat at his desk and mentally ran through a list
of 10 potential replacements, portfolio managers at other
ﬁrms he had met with in the event the inevitable occurred.
Almost out of reﬂex, the process of compiling a list of
candidates began immediately upon the ﬁrst misstep of the
latest hire. After a few minutes of deliberation, he settled
upon a name.
“Get me Jeremy Cranford.” Albright barked to his secre-
Incredibly, and in deﬁance of all precedent, that was
three years ago; Cranford had survived the odds but he
would soon have to outlive more severe threats than those
to his career.
The black-clad ﬁgure blended invisibly into the shadows
of the tall trees that formed a protective barrier around
the staid Tudor style home. In this aﬄuent, almost rural
area of New Jersey, the landscaping was lush and mature,
providing all the gunman could have hoped for in the way
of cover. Right arm braced against torso, left elbow resting
on bended knee, his near-perfect form provided steady
support as he sighted through the night scope aﬃxed to the
long metal barrel. Like the pictures he had seen of other
true marksman, both eyes remained open but he concen-
trated his vision through the right one, peering intently at
his subjects, who sat in the house across the street. Sneering
at the image of familial bliss, he tightened his ﬁnger on the
Sunday evening was intended to be a time to relax.
With sorting through the week’s mail as the only sched-
uled chore, it even started out that way. Their two young
daughters ﬁnally tucked into bed, the Cranfords settled
into the ﬁrst ﬂoor study. It was a nicely appointed room, its
décor enveloping the family in a warmth that bred comfort
and togetherness; the only nod to its dual function as an
occasional home oﬃce was the mahogany desk positioned
in the corner. As a partner at a very successful hedge fund,
Jeremy’s position required an intense amount of focus when
he was at the oﬃce, but when he was at home he applied
that same devotion to his family.
Jennifer curled up on the couch next to her husband. It
was always hard for him to concentrate when she did this,
but never more than now as she reached across his chest
for one of the two glasses of wine that sat atop the end
table. She gently planted a kiss, more sensual than casual,
on Jeremy’s lips.
“You’re making it tough for me to get my work done,
Jenn.” He was the only one to ever call her Jenn and she
liked it that way.
“Sorry,” she replied, the mischievous smile on her lips
belying any real contrition. “I’ll just sit here and read my
“Just a few more minutes, honey,” Jeremy assured her,
adding a sly grin of his own, “and then I will be all yours
until ﬁve a.m.”
Jennifer was a natural blonde with striking, topaz eyes
and skin tanned the colour of honey; her workout regimen
and genetics created an athletically toned body that would
serve to preserve her youthful appearance for years to come.
Now in her early thirties, she and Jeremy had been married
for 10 years. He often thought of her as the girl next door
with the prurient appeal of a centerfold. Their time together
had done nothing to dampen that notion, and Jennifer’s
feelings about Jeremy were very much the same. With his
boyish blonde good looks, baby blue eyes and similarly ﬁt
physique, they were as appropriately matched physically as
they were emotionally devoted to one another.
Uncertain who to take down ﬁrst, the gunman moved
his sight back and forth between the two ﬁgures who
appeared so comfortable in their cozy home. He warmed
to the thought of Jeremy helplessly watching his lovely
wife writhe in pain as the blood drained from her body.
Wasn’t that the point of this excursion to this godforsaken
cesspool of a state? To make Cranford suﬀer as he had when
his family abandoned him? Or should he go for the most
direct path to revenge and take out the person so clearly
responsible for his misery?
Oblivious to the danger lurking outside, Jeremy reached
for a letter that seemed to protrude from the pile that lay
on the squat glass table in front of the sofa. He noticed that
the envelope bore no sign of a postage mark or stamp and
hoped the similarity to the letter he received in the oﬃce
last week was just a coincidence. Instinct spoke otherwise.
He had dismissed the prior missive as harmless venting
from some crank but immediately began to reconsider
his nonchalance. Jeremy was still upset with himself for
trusting the Wall Street Journal reporter who attributed a
quote to him bashing Datatech stock. Publicity brought out
the crazies and a lot of unwanted attention. The author
of the article, Bill Sundrick, promised that he wouldn’t be
mentioned, agreeing to label him “an informed source who
spoke oﬀ the record.” Of course Jeremy was pleased that on
the day the article came out it caused the price of Datatech
stock to decline by 20 per cent. The stock collapsed
by another 40 per cent over the following week as every
analyst on Wall Street pulled their buy recommendation.
Parthenon booked a nice proﬁt on their short position.
Like most other tech-savvy people, the Cranfords re-
ceived more emails than actual letters so Jeremy decided
to move to the desk before his wife noticed what he held in
his hands. He sat down and quietly ripped open the sealed
ﬂap. Just like the prior letter, this one was typed on a single
white sheet of paper. He vividly recalled the wording of the
ﬁrst one calling him a “graveyard dancer who proﬁted from
the misery of others.” The language in that letter was clear;
the man had lost everything in the market and Datatech had
been his last, best chance to recoup his losses. He wrote that
he had been on his way to winning his family back, proving
to his wife that he was a great trader and that the initial
gains he had made investing their savings were not a ﬂuke,
that despite a period of bad luck he was a moneymaker.
Datatech had tripled after he ﬁrst bought it and she was
ﬁnally coming around, coming to her senses, until. . . “until
you started bad mouthing the story and screwing me over. And
then all those sycophants, those amateur traders that follow
your every word just because you work at Parthenon, started
bashing the stock, too.” It had ended with a threat, but no
one could have possibly taken it seriously. Jeremy certainly
He stared at the paper in front of him, his expression
reﬂecting the concern he felt, his concentration so intense
that he didn’t notice Jennifer had followed him to the desk
and was now reading over his shoulder.
The letter began with a typical salutation: “Dear Mr.
Cranford.” The words that followed were the cause for
“Remember me? I’m the one who you screwed!!! I’m the one
who lost his family because you made me lose all my money!!!
I’m the one who will get even. I’m the one who wants you to
suﬀer!!! You’re the one who won’t know when or how it will
happen!!! Give my best to Jenn and the girls!!!
Yours truly, Mr. Datatech”
The glass of red wine hit the ﬂoor as Jennifer’s hands
went to her face, barely muﬄing the gasp that was still
so very audible. It was immediately apparent that whoever
this psycho was, he had gone to the trouble of ﬁnding out
where they lived and already knew way too much about
their lives. Jeremy rose and embraced his wife as she sobbed
on his shoulder.
The man in the shadows looked on, a sick grin of
pleasure forming on his face. He knew he was responsible
for the scene he was watching and decided to savour his
targets’ misery for a moment more. Slowly, he brought the
riﬂe down to his side, acting upon what he had known
all along; now was not the time to act irrationally. All in
due course, he reasoned, controlling his emotions as would
every good trader. And he wasn’t just good, he was the
best. Don’t let the game control me, I control the game, he
reminded himself. First he had to recoup his money. Then
it would be time to act upon his future plans for Mr. and
Mrs. Cranford. For now he would have to be content with
this visual benchmark of their anguish.
They didn’t speak much before they went to bed, unsure
of what to say. Jennifer had conﬁdence that her husband,
their protector, wouldn’t let anything threaten their family.
Still, she was afraid.
Sleep would not come easily as their thoughts returned
to the letter. Silently, they each recalled the words in vivid
detail. “I’m the one who will get even.” Jennifer pulled her
husband’s arm tightly around her waist while they lay in
bed, bodies touching, ﬁtting into one another as if sculpted
together. “I’m the one who wants you to suﬀer.” Jeremy heard
the sniﬄes as his wife fought back the tears of fear. “Give
my regards to Jenn and the girls.”
Jeremy had always kept up a brave front, no matter what
the circumstance. He sometimes felt the burden of doing
so while always recognising the necessity. Eyes vacantly
focused on the darkness, his thoughts went to the time
when their ﬁrst child, Alexandra, was born. It was the ﬁrst
time the brave front had really mattered.
It had been a tough delivery, an emergency C-Section,
and the doctors weren’t sure the baby would pull through.
Jennifer was anesthetized but still mostly conscious, there
being no time to put her out. Jeremy stood at the end of the
birthing table holding Jenn’s head, her line of vision, but not
his, obscured by a foot high white sheet that was purposely
positioned on top of her lower chest. She sensed all was not
right but remained largely oblivious to the actual danger as
the newborn was lifted from her womb with the umbilical
cord wrapped around her neck, her little body a pale shade
The medical staﬀ, nurses and doctors, proceeded with-
out any sense of drama lest they give an indication to the
new parents that this was anything but normal. It was
important for Jennifer to stay calm, to keep her blood pres-
sure within an acceptable range. The attending obstetrician
dispensed with ritual and cut the umbilical cord himself
so that he could quickly remove the impediment to the
newborn’s air supply. Nothing was lost on Jeremy. Fighting
back emotion, he knew he had to stay calm. Everything was
going to be all right; he was sure of it.
“It will be OK, won’t it?” Jennifer whispered tenta-
tively, bringing Jeremy back to the present.
“Of course it will. This is just some harmless kook. I’m
sure it’s not the ﬁrst time he’s lost money on a stock yet I
don’t recall reading about any hedge fund managers being
mysteriously killed by a Mr. Datatech.”
“So you’re not worried?”
“Worried? Not really. I’m pretty sure this will turn
out to be nothing,” he responded, at once surprised and
disappointed that he could speak the words so sincerely
despite not believing them.
Jeremy’s mind returned to the trip home from the
hospital after mother and daughter were given a clean bill
of health. There she was swaddled in her blanket, peering
out from under the little knit cap she wore to help maintain
her body temperature. He held her tight, afraid to drop her,
as Jennifer sat down in the wheelchair that would bring her
to the lobby doors. He gave his daughter one more kiss as
he placed her in Jenn’s lap, the smile born from pride and
happiness never leaving his face.
Jeremy couldn’t wait to be a dad. His father had died
when he was only nine years old and he never saw much
of him when he was alive. It wasn’t that his father wasn’t
a good parent—quite the contrary. He was a very loving,
family man who, if he had the option, would have spent all
his time with his wife and son. But he was an uneducated,
albeit hard-working, immigrant who never made much
money. Out of adversity comes strength and from that early
age, Jeremy vowed to succeed, to be in a position to give
his family everything they could possibly want and to dote
ceaselessly on his children. He would renew and embellish
this vow as he got older. He would be there to tuck them
into bed each and every night. When they got older, he
promised himself that he would sit with them at their desks
and help with their homework. When they went oﬀ to
college, he would visit as often as they would let him. And
when they had children of their own, he would not be held
back from spoiling his grandkids rotten.
But now, the smile that had always accompanied
Jeremy’s perfect picture of family life had evaporated,
replaced by the blank stare of someone worried about an
unseen, unknown menace. The visions of joy were pushed
aside by a dark foreboding, the fear that the lives of those
he loved the most were in danger and that he would be
unable to keep them safe.
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