The Grand Slammer

Crooks abound in the world of long distance. But it takes a really good crook to steal from the other crooks.

Prosecutors indicted Soreide on October 2, 2003. He surrendered to authorities eight days later and bonded out on October 22. His trial is set for December 15.


Donna Kim sits at an outside table at Cheeburger Cheeburger in Delray Beach on October 23. She's noticeably nervous.

Colby Katz
Donna Kim, former president of Accutel Communications, has become the federal government's key witness in a case against her previous employer, Arne Soreide.
Colby Katz
Donna Kim, former president of Accutel Communications, has become the federal government's key witness in a case against her previous employer, Arne Soreide.

Kim claims Soreide ruined her credit and her life. After he'd allegedly ripped off Cable & Wireless, WorldCom, Sprint, and Frontier, she claims, he hammered out Accutel's final long-distance carrier contract with Global Crossing. He asked Kim to sign it. "Donna, don't read the contract," Kim contends Soreide told her. "It takes you too long, and you ask 15 questions." At the time, Kim believed she was signing as president of the company. Yet she was in fact putting her name on a personal guarantee to Global Crossing. Soreide wound up stiffing the telecom giant for $925,201. Kim, who became responsible for the debt, had to declare bankruptcy in February 2001, and now can't even open a checking account. "He ruined me," she says.

Kim's is something of an absurd story. She maintains she was gullible, that Soreide had charmed her to such a degree that she believed everything he said. But how could she not have suspected the fraud earlier? In a deposition, an attorney grilled Kim about what appears to be her willful ignorance. "I'm not ignorant," she responded. "I'm just a little naive in certain cases."

A shiny, black, four-door BMW drives slowly by Cheeburger Cheeburger. "Oh, shit," Kim says, turning her face away. Then she realizes her alarm was unnecessary. "Every time I see a car like that," she says, "I think it's Arne. I'm scared. I know that he won't personally contact me. He's too cunning and too smart. But he does have a lot of connections to people that know how to find me."

She looks down and stuffs an onion ring into her mouth. "If I don't testify, then there's really no case, is there?" she continues. "So therefore, if he can get me out of the way, he'd be much happier. He used to always tell me, 'Loose lips sink ships. There's always hell to pay when someone talks too much, Donna.' I just want my life back."

Walking through downtown Delray Beach, Kim points to the stores she likes: the antiques shop on the left, the photography gallery on the right. She doesn't know how many days she has left to walk down this street. She's hoping for probation, but no one could give her a guarantee.

"I'm fearful of my sentencing," she admits. "But if I have to do any time in federal prison, I'm going to request a cell right next to Martha Stewart."

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