Preview: Crimes and Secrets of a Desperate Dad

March 26, 2013

Crimes and Secrets Cover



Stephen began trading crude oil in 1999. But making money trading was tough slog.

The times to trade crude oil were from 9:45am to 3:10pm. On a typical day, Stephen would awake around 7am and take a quick shower. He caught the Long Island Rail Road train around 8am He might have a coffee while getting ready to catch the train which would get him into Penn Station about 35 or 40 minutes later. He would then take a train downtown to get there about 9a.m. As soon as he got off the train, Stephen would grab a protein shake, a sandwich or have breakfast in the restaurant in the building.

He would do his research while he ate. Research consisted of perusing “numbers sheets” he subscribed to. These sheets came to him each day, providing tips on how best to trade crude oil that day—at what price to buy, when to sell, the strategic price point for crude oil, etc. Stephen transferred the info on the tip sheet to a piece of paper and was ready to trade at the sound of the opening bell at 9:45am.

There were many reasons Stephen was attracted to crude oil trading. Number one was the ability to make substantial profits quickly. In fact, some traders made thousands of dollars within a few minutes. A sudden appreciation in the lots a trader purchases can mean life changing sums. And because crude is traded every day, the market stayed liquid. Another plus was that crude could be purchased on margins as low as five percent of the investment value. So, $50,000 in crude oil futures might only cost $2,500 to purchase.

That volatility, though, could turn against the shrewdest trader. A price plummet could cause the trader to lose all of his money. Another disadvantage was how outside forces affected the prices. Politicians, warring countries, natural disasters, burning refineries—all made an impact on crude oil prices.

Stephen’s style was in and out. In fact, he might do 50 trades in ten minutes. He found his worst days were when he let his emotions get the best of him.

He constantly kept track: Bought 50 at 100 and sold 50 at 90- just lost five grand. He would go out for a smoke every half hour and write down all the numbers, the losers on one side and the winners on the other side. If he found he was down 5k, he would try to get it back. If he lost another five trying to do so, well, that really sucked.

Stephen was a better morning than afternoon trader. He proved that in one day when he lost 20k in the pm hours. It was one sad day. He literally wanted to kill himself. He went straight to the bar but he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He just wanted to drown his sorrows so he went to a bar in Chinatown where no one knew him and drank shots and beers.

Despite that, 1999 through 2000 was his all too brief crude oil trading heyday. The high point came on October 12, 2000.

On that day, the USS Cole was in Aden Harbor in Yemen for a routine fuel replenishment at 10:30 am local time. At about 11:18, a small craft approached the port side of the Cole. Suddenly, an explosion ripped a 160-square-foot gash in the hull. It appeared the blast had been caused by an explosive that had been placed against the hull of the Cole.

The bomb went off in the galley of the ship just as the crew was lining up for lunch, injuring 39 sailors and killing 17. Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorists took responsibility for the attack.

Also on that day, several thousand miles away in the crude oil futures pit on Wall Street in Manhattan, Stephen Trantel cleared $27,000 in one trade. It was the biggest day of his life on the floor. He went home at 10am to celebrate.

That month he paid $20,000 cash for his brand new, tricked out, home-away-from-home truck, which he nicknamed the “Big Guy.” That year, he grossed about 300k, the pinnacle of his earning career.



Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. George W. Bush


For some reason, the Big Guy wouldn’t start. The battery on the GMC Suburban purchased with the USS Cole day trading victory had drained because of a light left on overnight.

Stephen could not take the other car to the train station because his wife, Jeanne, needed it. By the time he got to the station he had to take a later train. If he hadn’t, he would have been walking through the World Trade Center just about the time the first plane hit the tower.

The later train he took went into New York City, making its customary stop at Jamaica, Queens. While the train sat for a longer than ordinary time, Stephen called his Wholly Roller buddy, Geno, who also worked on Wall Street, to ask what the market was doing.

Geno had to go and said he’d be in touch.

He called back shortly, screaming, “Don’t come down here, Tranny. Don’t come down. There’s been a terrorist attack. A plane crashed into the towers.”

Stephen relayed the news to his fellow passengers. Stunned, everyone began calling with their cell phones.

Eventually, the train stopped at Penn Station. From there, looking toward Manhattan, Stephen could see the dark smoke wafting toward the sky from the Twin Towers about four miles south.

Stephen ended up spending the day in Penn Station after bumping into a friend who had an office there. About five in the evening, he was able to take a train back to his home in Rockville Centre. When he went back to work three days later, he learned that six people he knew perished on that awful day.

Later, Stephen marked 9-11-01 as the beginning of the end for him too.





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