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Name and title: Michael C. Carroll, senior vice president and general counsel Age: 32 Taxi!: Medallion Financial Corp. is an unusual company that specializes in loans to the taxi industry. The firm started in 1937, when Leon Murstein, the father of Chief Executive Officer Alvin Murstein and the grandfather of President Andrew Murstein, bought a New York City taxicab medallion for $10. The Murstein family eventually bought 500 medallions, which are required to be affixed to any taxi operating in the city. In 1979, the Mursteins got into the financing business after they tried to sell off their taxi fleet, and discovered that many buyers could not get loans to buy the medallions, which were then worth more than $45,000. “Our company pretty much invented the industry of financing medallions,” said Carroll. “We’ve created a marketplace where cab fleets and individual drivers can buy, sell and exchange medallions, because we’ve made them a bankable asset.” Indeed, it now costs more than $340,000 to buy one of New York’s 12,187 medallions. The company also makes loans to taxi drivers and fleets in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and other cities. After lending more than a billion dollars backed by medallions, the company has not lost a single principal dollar, said Carroll. Medallion Financial has diversified into other loan areas, inspired by the Murstein creed that “in niches there are riches.” “We try to find places where people might be turned away by banks, but there is still a bankable person, someone you can look in the eye and trust,” said Carroll. The company is one of the leading lenders to women and minority-owned companies under the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) program. Medallion also makes loans to franchisees and purchasers of pleasure boats and recreational vehicles. The 128-employee company, which has a $750 million loan portfolio, reported $31.3 million in 2003 revenue. Cab counselor: Carroll’s major duties include securities compliance, counseling the board on corporate governance and finance, negotiating major deals, employment matters and litigation oversight. He supervises Marisa Silverman, Medallion’s other in-house counsel. Carroll prefers to prepare most Securities and Exchange Commission filings in-house. “I use outside counsel sparingly on our SEC compliance, perhaps for 5% of the content, and to review, confirm and update specialty areas of law,” he said. To ensure compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other federal securities laws, Carroll has engineered changes to the board and its committees, prepared a 785-page manual of corporate policies (including a new whistleblower policy), and established an internal certification system for financial reporting. Last year, Carroll helped to negotiate the $33 million sale of Medallion Taxi Media Inc., a taxicab rooftop advertising subsidiary, to competitor Clear Channel Communications Inc. Working with outside counsel Sullivan & Cromwell of New York, he also successfully petitioned for Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. coverage of Utah-based Medallion Bank, a new industrial bank set up to reduce capital costs on Medallion’s loans. Medallion’s main outside firm is New York’s Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Carroll also calls on the Florham Park, N.J., office of Greenberg Traurig for lending matters, and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan for business development work. Litigation: Medallion is not currently involved in material litigation, according to its most recent quarterly report. According to Carroll, the company’s docket includes “run of the mill” lawsuits, such as employment cases, contract disputes and debt collections and foreclosure matters. In the relatively rare instances when Medallion must foreclose on a defaulting cab driver, its repossession remedy is fairly cheap and easy, said Carroll. An employee, armed with a crowbar, tracks down the cab’s location and “pops the tin”-literally prying the taxi’s medallion from the vehicle. If Medallion can’t find the cab, it simply presents proof of default to the city’s taxi commission, which revokes the debtor’s license and issues a new tin to Medallion. Route to the top: The standard r�sum� of a financial firm’s GC might include a stint at a corporate law firm, followed by a period rising up the in-house ranks at a bank or investment firm. If that’s a typical career path, Michael C. Carroll has definitely taken the road less traveled. He grew up in Bellmore, N.Y., and graduated from American University in 1994. He received a law degree in 1997 from St. John’s University School of Law, where he was the articles and notes editor on the law review. After law school, Carroll was hired as a corporate associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, where he befriended partner and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. “He became my friend and mentor, even though our political philosophies could not be further apart,” said Carroll. In 1999, the firm offered Carroll a six-month fellowship at MFY Legal Services, the city’s largest provider of legal services to the poor. Carroll initially hesitated, but Cuomo convinced him to take the plunge. “He told me that a middle class kid from [suburban] Long Island . . . should have some experience dealing with folks on welfare. He said it would change my view of the world,” said Carroll. “He was right.” Carroll recalls that his representation of single mothers and grandmothers facing eviction made it seem less essential whether “John Jones got a couple million more in an IPO.” Carroll’s foray into legal services emboldened him for his next major career move. In 2001, he left Willkie Farr to devote himself to writing an expos� of a mysterious animal diseases laboratory on an isolated island off the eastern tip of Long Island. Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory, published last year by HarperCollins, describes lax security, infected workers and reported virus outbreaks at the restricted lab, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently took over from the Agriculture Department. Sony Pictures Entertainment recently bought motion picture rights to Carroll’s book, which may be made into a T.V. movie on ABC. In 2003, Carroll-who was then all of 30 years old-was hired as the first general counsel of Medallion. Personal: On Jan. 22, Carroll married Betty Leyva, a litigation staff attorney at New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The couple met when Carroll was temping at her firm while writing Lab 257. Last book and movie: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Aviator. - William C. Smith

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