Barry Minkow
American businessman
Barry Minkow
Barry Jay Minkow is a former businessman, pastor and convicted felon. While still in high school, he founded ZZZZ Best (pronounced Zee Best), which appeared to be an immensely successful carpet-cleaning and restoration company. However, it was actually a front to attract investment for a massive Ponzi scheme.
Biography
Barry Minkow's personal information overview.
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Conman Barry Minkow Becomes Pastor, Cheats Church Out Of Millions
Huffington Post - about 3 years
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A man who went from teenage millionaire to convicted con artist to professional fraud fighter and pastor was convicted Wednesday of cheating his San Diego church congregation out of some $3 million. Barry Minkow pleaded guilty to embezzling funds from the San Diego Community Bible Church, a U.S. attorney's statement said. He was already serving a five-year sentence for a securities fraud conviction in Florida and could get five additional years when he is sentenced for the new conviction April 7. Under the plea, Minkow admitted that he opened unauthorized church bank accounts, forged signatures on checks and used member donations for personal benefit. "Barry Minkow is again convicted of fraud, this time for stealing money from the parishioners of San Diego Community Bible Church," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. "We stand vigilant against those who cheat and steal without regard to the consequences wrought on their victims and their communities." Minkow gained nat ...
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Huffington Post article
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: Putting Trust on Cruise Control at Carnival
Huffington Post - about 4 years
Historians have debated for 2,000 years whether ancient Roman emperor Nero really merrily dressed in costume and played his lyre while his city burned. There is no dispute, however, how modern-day cruise emperor, Carnival CEO Micky Arison, showed his Valentine's Day disdain for his constituents this past Thursday. After the fire engine aboard his listing ship, the Carnival Triumph, left 4,229 passengers and crew trapped at sea, he stayed out of sight, except for merrily sheering on a Miami Heat basketball game from the comfort of his owner's box. Despite the lack of food, ventilation, elevators and sanitation -- pools of urine and feces washed down the hallways -- Arison, as in previous disasters at sea involving his company's ships, held tradition and did not join relief efforts, reach out to the distressed passengers and their families, or engage public officials and the media. Arison, inherited his ownership of Carnival's nautical empire and controls 45 percent of th ...
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Huffington Post article
Really? Troubled owners should sell homes - OCRegister
Google News - over 5 years
Barry Minkow has been sentenced to a five-year sentence for false attacks on Lennar Corp. (LA Times) DISNEY HOUSE: The Los Angeles house that Walt Disney built for himself in 1932 for $50000 is now on the market for $3.65 million
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Google News article
Unlucky producer or Hollywood fraud? - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
The Palmer Home movie is one of 10 independently financed film projects — including one starring Woody Harrelson, another with Luke Perry, and one about California con man Barry Minkow — that have sparked a spate of lawsuits in the last year and a
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Google News article
Minkow given 5 years for defrauding Lennar investors - Sacramento Bee
Google News - over 5 years
Barry Minkow, the one-time teen whiz who defrauded investors of millions through a bogus carpet cleaning business in the 1980s, is headed back to prison for a five-year stint after pleading guilty to scheming to depress the stock
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Google News article
Barry Minkow is sentenced to five years in prison - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
Barry Minkow is headed back to prison to serve a five-year sentence for securities fraud, but the ex-con who reinvented himself as a San Diego minister and crime fighter was looking on the bright side of his ... - -
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Google News article
The con man and his generic church - GetReligion
Google News - over 5 years
The name is quite famous — Barry Minkow. Here's the opening of the report, with a few comments: Barry Minkow's former congregation accused the con man-turned-preacher of misusing church funds and luring its members into bad investments,
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Google News article
Ex-Conman-Turned-Pastor Faces Stock Manipulation Charges - Christian Post
Google News - over 5 years
Former San Diego pastor Barry Minkow, whose life story as an ex-con man who became a fraud buster was made into an unreleased movie, is returning to court in two weeks to face stock manipulation charges
Article Link:
Google News article
'Best of the West' Contest Winners Announced - mediabistro.com
Google News - over 5 years
... long form feature writing for her piece on obsessive self-documentor Herman Atkins. Beth Barrett also won third place for the LA Weekly in the business reporting cateogry for her piece the “questionable actions of con-man-turned-pastor Barry Minkow.”
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Google News article
Lewis: What really lurks in the mind of Barry Minkow - Denver Post
Google News - over 5 years
Pastor Barry Minkow's redemption story went a long way considering his many demons: Personality disorder, narcissism, drug abuse, and lots of steroids. Minkow, renowned for perpetrating the ZZZZ Best Ponzi scheme in the 1980s,
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Google News article
Minkow seeks leniency in Lennar case - Bizjournals.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Fraudster, pastor and sometime whistle-blower Barry Minkow has a plethora of medical conditions, including ADHD, and is encouraged to avoid “positions of authority control and persuasion,” according to his requests for leniency in a criminal fraud case
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Google News article
Barry Minkow could be a reverse billionaire - MarketWatch
Google News - over 5 years
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Barry Minkow now owes more money than he ever dreamed of bagging in a Ponzi scheme. Miami-based home builder Lennar Corp. /quotes/zigman/232035/quotes/nls/len LEN +1.28% has won a $584 million judgment against the
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Google News article
Lennar Wins Judgment Against Famed Felon Barry Minkow - NASDAQ
Google News - over 5 years
(LEN) has won a $584 million judgment against convicted felon Barry Minkow, who is likely to be headed to prison yet again. Minkow is slated to be sentenced on July 7 after pleading guilty to a federal charge of manipulating Lennar's stock
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Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Barry Minkow
    FORTIES
  • 2014
    Age 46
    On April 28, 2014, Judge Michael M. Anello sentenced Minkow to five years in prison, the maximum possible sentence under his plea bargain.
    More Details Hide Details It is to be served after Minkow completes his sentence for securities fraud. While Minkow's attorneys asked for a sentence of 41 months, Anello felt he had to impose the maximum for what he called a "despicable, inexcusable crime." On June 2, Minkow reached an agreement with federal prosecutors that called for him to pay $3.4 million in restitution. This will potentially be a ruinous amount for Minkow, on top of the restitution he still owes Lennar, Union Bank and the ZZZZ Best victims. Earlier, he said that the $26 million restitution for the ZZZZ Best scam alone was large enough that he would be writing restitution checks to the ZZZZ Best victims for the rest of his life. As a result of his latest sentence, Minkow's earliest possible release date is now June 6, 2019. Mark Hamill stars as Robert Minkow, Justin Baldoni stars as Barry Minkow, Talia Shire stars as Carole Minkow, and Elisabeth Röhm stars as Lisa Minkow.
    On January 22, 2014, Minkow pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and to defraud the federal government.
    More Details Hide Details He admitted to embezzling over $3 million in donations to Community Bible Church from 2001 to 2011. He opened unauthorized bank accounts purportedly on the church's behalf, forged signatures on church checks, diverted money from legitimate church accounts for his personal use, and charged unauthorized personal expenses on church credit cards. He also concealed $890,000 of income and $250,000 in taxes from the IRS. Among his victims were a widower who gave $75,000 to fund a supposed hospital in Sudan to honor his wife after she died of cancer, and a woman who gave Minkow $300,000 that would have otherwise gone to help raise her teenage granddaughter.
  • 2011
    Age 43
    On June 14, 2011; KGTV in San Diego interviewed several members of Minkow's former church, who said Minkow swindled them.
    More Details Hide Details One woman said Minkow asked her for $300,000, purportedly to help finance a movie about his redemption.
    In a pre-sentencing evaluation performed on May 10, 2011, Minkow was diagnosed by a Dr. Michael Brannon as having antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder, opioid dependence, anabolic steroid abuse, and migraine headaches.
    More Details Hide Details On June 16, Freeman ordered Minkow to pay Lennar $584 million in damages—roughly the amount the company lost as a result of the bear raid. Freeman's ruling stated that Minkow and Marsch had entered into a conspiracy to wreck Lennar's stock in November 2008. With interest, the bill could easily approach a billion dollars—far more than he stole in the ZZZZ Best scam. On July 6, it emerged that officials with Community Bible Church had accused Minkow of running the Fraud Discovery Institute with church funds, applying for credit cards in the names of church members and leading his flock into bad investments. Church officials had made the claims as part of a confidential pre-sentencing report. When Minkow's attorney, Alvin Entin, got word of the letter, he asked for and was granted two weeks to review the allegations and respond to them. This pushed Minkow's sentencing back to July 21. This was the second time Minkow's sentencing had been postponed; it was originally slated for June 16 but was postponed to July 6.
    On March 30, 2011, Minkow pleaded guilty before Judge Patricia A. Seitz.
    More Details Hide Details Minkow's attorney, Alvin Entin, admitted that his client had acted recklessly, but had been "deluded and taken advantage of" by Marsch. He faced a maximum of five years in prison, as much as $350,000 in fines and penalties and $500 million in restitution. However, he has agreed to cooperate with the government in its probe of Marsch. The Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of the plea agreement, in which Minkow admitted to issuing his FDI report on Lennar at Marsch's behest. According to the agreement, Marsch offered to have Minkow retract his report if Lennar paid him in cash and stock. It also said that Minkow's report triggered a bear raid which temporarily reduced the market capitalization of Lennar by $583 million. Minkow faced a minimum of 30 years in prison had the case gone to trial.
    On March 16, 2011, Minkow announced through his attorney that he was pleading guilty to one count of insider trading.
    More Details Hide Details According to his lawyer, Minkow had bought his Lennar options using "nonpublic information." The plea, which is separate from the civil suit, came a month after Minkow learned he was the subject of a criminal investigation. Minkow claimed not to know at the time that he was breaking the law. The SEC had already been probing Minkow's trading practices. On the same day, Minkow resigned as senior pastor of Community Bible Church, saying in a letter to his flock that since he was no longer "above reproach," he felt that he was "no longer qualified to be a pastor." Six weeks earlier, $50,000 in cash and checks was stolen from the church during a burglary. Though unsolved, it was noted as suspicious due to Minkow's admitted history of staging burglaries to collect insurance money. The nature of the "nonpublic information" became clear a week later, when federal prosecutors in Miami filed a criminal information charging Minkow with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Prosecutors charged that Minkow and Marsch (listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the complaint) conspired to extort money from Lennar by driving down its stock. The complaint also revealed that Minkow had sent his allegations to the FBI, SEC and IRS, and that the three agencies found his claims credible enough to open a formal criminal investigation into Lennar's practices. Minkow then used confidential knowledge of that investigation to short Lennar stock, even though he knew he was barred from doing so.
  • 2010
    Age 42
    On December 27, 2010, Florida Circuit Court Judge Gill Freeman issued terminating sanctions against Minkow in response to a motion by Lennar.
    More Details Hide Details Freeman found that Minkow had repeatedly lied under oath, destroyed or withheld evidence, concealed witnesses, and deliberately tried to "cover up his misconduct." According to Freeman, Minkow had even lied to his own lawyers about his behavior. Freeman determined that Minkow had perpetrated "a fraud on the court" that was so egregious that letting the case go any further would be a disservice to justice. In her view, "no remedy short of default" was appropriate for Minkow's lies. She ordered Minkow to reimburse Lennar for the legal expenses it incurred while ferreting out his lies. According to legal experts, it is extremely rare for a judge to issue terminating sanctions, since they are reserved for particularly egregious misconduct and have the effect of revoking a litigant's right to defend himself. Earlier, Freeman had been so angered by Minkow's behavior that she called him a liar in open court, a rarity for a judge. Lennar estimates that its attorneys and investigators spent hundreds of millions of dollars exposing Minkow's lies.
  • 2009
    Age 41
    In 2009, Minkow issued a report accusing major homebuilder Lennar of massive fraud.
    More Details Hide Details Minkow claimed that irregularities in Lennar's off-balance-sheet debt accounting were evidence of a massive Ponzi scheme. Minkow accused Lennar of not disclosing enough information about this to its shareholders, and also claimed a Lennar executive took out a fraudulent personal loan. In an accompanying YouTube video, Minkow denounced Lennar as "a financial crime in progress" and "a corporate bully." Lennar's stock plummeted in the wake of Minkow's reports. From January 9 (when Minkow first made his accusations) to January 22, Lennar's stock tumbled from $11.57 a share to only $6.55. Minkow issued the report after being contacted by Nicholas Marsch, a San Diego developer who had filed two lawsuits against Lennar for fraud. Indeed, the language of the FDI report echoed that used in Marsch's filings. One of Marsch's suits was summarily thrown out; the other ended with Marsch having to pay Lennar $12 million in counterclaims.
  • 2008
    Age 40
    The remaining charge of stock manipulation was settled in July 2008 when USANA and Minkow reached an undisclosed settlement, which included the removal of all USANA-related materials from the Fraud Discovery Institute website, a related Chinese website, and from YouTube.
    More Details Hide Details Minkow also agreed to never trade in USANA's stock again. Separately from the settlement, the company paid $142,510 in attorney fees to Minkow and his institute under an order from federal Magistrate Samuel Alba. Court documents show that USANA never pursued others whom they suspected of being part of the alleged stock manipulation nor did they ask for an injunction, their only avenue of release in this case. Minkow almost always held a position in securities on which he reported. However, he has since stated that while his lawyers advised him this practice was legal, it was probably unethical. Several companies have sued Minkow for making false accusations against them, most of which have been settled out of court.
  • THIRTIES
  • 2007
    Age 39
    On 20 February 2007, Minkow, distributed a 500-page report to officials at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accusing USANA of operating an illegal pyramid scheme.
    More Details Hide Details USANA countered by lodging suits against Minkow and his company claiming defamation and stock manipulation. On the day Minkow's report was released, USANA's shares had traded at $61.19 but by August the share price had tumbled to less than $35. Minkow, acknowledged that he was shorting USANA's shares, hoping to profit from a drop in the stock price. However, in reference to USANA's lawsuit, news columnist Herb Greenberg commented that the criticism of Minkow "is a bunch of malarkey; he has a right to publish his research, as long as people know his position the stock." Minkow had revealed in the report that he was betting for the stock to go down. USANA dropped the defamation suit and in March 2008 U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell threw out four of the five claims brought by USANA against Minkow ruling that USANAs claims violated California’s anti-SLAPP law for suing Minkow for fair criticism. and that USANA did not show a reasonable probability of winning on those claims. The judge also cited two examples where USANA failed to refute Minkow's claims that their products were overpriced and of no better quality than other lower-priced brands.
  • 2006
    Age 38
    Minkow's motives were brought into question by multiple news stories concluding that Minkow was shorting stock before he released a report on a public company. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Minkow had engaged in this practice as early as 2006.
    More Details Hide Details Minkow's critics denounced this practice as unethical, if not illegal. At least one critic accused him of engaging in short and distort, a form of securities fraud which is a reversal of a pump and dump scheme. For instance, he accused Herbalife of a "laundry list" of issues, and Minkow had "correctly revealed that Herbalife's president had inflated his résumé." Herbalife paid Minkow $300,000, after which Minkow issued a press release withdrawing all accusations and contentions against Herbalife, and removed all the accusations from his website. Additionally, Minkow made $50,000 from shorting Herbalife stock. Minkow continued to profit from his short sales position due to sharp decreases in the reported company's stock price immediately after releasing a new report.
    Minkow first gained national attention when 60 Minutes aired a profile of him in August 2006.
    More Details Hide Details Several Wall Street investors liked what they saw, and sent him enough money to go after bigger targets. Minkow claimed to have uncovered $1 billion worth of fraud over the years.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1997
    Age 29
    In 1997, he became pastor of Community Bible Church in San Diego.
    More Details Hide Details Soon after his arrival, a church member asked him to look into a money management firm in nearby Orange County. Suspecting something was amiss, Minkow alerted federal authorities, who discovered the firm was a $300 million pyramid scheme. This was the beginning of the Fraud Discovery Institute, a for-profit investigative firm (which eventually transpired to be a fraud itself). His original targets were penny stock companies, which are often havens for fraud. However, he soon attracted the attention of The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News. He also began appearing on Your World with Neil Cavuto as a fraud expert.
  • 1995
    Age 27
    In 1995, he wrote a first-hand account of the ZZZZ Best scam, Clean Sweep.
    More Details Hide Details All of the book's proceeds went toward repaying his victims. His other substantial debt is a $7 million loan from Union Bank.
    After Minkow's early release from prison in 1995, he went to work at the Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth, California as Director of the Bible Institute and Pastor of Evangelism.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1989
    Age 21
    On March 27, 1989, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
    More Details Hide Details He was also placed on five years probation and ordered to pay $26 million in restitution. In sentencing him, U.S. District Court Judge Dickran Tevrizian described Minkow as a man without a conscience. He rejected Minkow's plea for a lighter sentence as "a joke" and "a slap on the wrist" for someone who had manipulated the financial system. The SEC subsequently banned him from ever serving as an officer or director of a public company again. He served under seven and a half years, most of them at Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood. While imprisoned, Minkow had become religious. During his prison stay, he became involved in Christian ministry, completing coursework through Liberty University's School of Lifelong Learning. Following his release, he became a pastor at a church in San Diego, where he subsequently operated the Fraud Discovery Institute.
  • 1988
    Age 20
    Minkow and 10 other ZZZZ Best insiders were indicted by a Los Angeles federal grand jury in January 1988 on 54 counts of racketeering, securities fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, mail fraud, tax evasion and bank fraud.
    More Details Hide Details The indictment accused Minkow of bilking banks and investors of millions of dollars while systematically draining his company of assets. It also accused Minkow of setting up dummy companies, writing phony invoices and conducting tours of purported restoration sites. Prosecutors estimated that as much as 90 percent of the company's revenue was fraudulent. On June 16, prosecutors won a superseding indictment charging Minkow with credit card fraud and two additional counts of mail fraud. While Minkow admitted to manipulating the company's stock, he claimed that he was forced to turn the company into a Ponzi scheme under pressure from the organized-crime figures who secretly controlled his company, a story he later admitted was false. On December 14, he was found guilty on all charges.
    He planned to sell a million of his shares to the public in January 1988, believing this would give him enough money to pay everyone off and go completely legitimate.
    More Details Hide Details In order to obtain more financing, Minkow was persuaded to raise $15 million of capital through an initial public offering of ZZZZ Best stock. When accountants wanted to inspect the company's operations, Minkow borrowed fake offices for a tour of "Interstate Appraisal Services" and used an incomplete building to present a fake restoration job. Mark Morze, ZZZZ Best's financial consultant, tricked the accountants sent to perform the necessary due diligence by faking thousands of documents. The public offering closed in December, and Minkow became the youngest person to lead a company through an IPO in American financial history. Minkow launched a massive television advertising campaign portraying ZZZZ Best as a carpet cleaner that Southern Californians could trust. He owned a Ferrari and a BMW, and bought a mansion in the wealthy Valley community of Woodland Hills. He had ambitions of making the company "the General Motors of the carpet-cleaning industry."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1986
    Age 18
    At the suggestion of a friend, Minkow took the company public in January 1986, garnering a spot on NASDAQ.
    More Details Hide Details The accountant who audited the company before it went public did not visit the insurance restoration sites himself. Had he done so, he would have discovered that they were mailboxes located throughout the San Fernando Valley. Minkow retained a 53 percent controlling interest, making him an instant millionaire on paper. Going public seemingly offered him a way to cover up his fraudulent activities. Under securities law of the time, he had to retain his personal shares for two years.
  • 1985
    Age 17
    After graduating from high school in 1985, Minkow was able to devote all of his time to ZZZZ Best.
    More Details Hide Details However, still short of cash, he got a loan from Jack Catain, a Los Angeles businessman who had ties to organized crime. Catain later sued Minkow for not paying him his share of the company's profits, but Minkow claimed Catain was a usurer. The suit was still working its way through the courts at the time of Catain's death in 1987. Other organized crime figures turned up as Minkow's advisers, which unnerved other employees. For instance, a major shareholder, Maurice Rind, had been convicted of securities fraud in 1976. Minkow was also a business partner with Robert Viggiano, a convicted jewel thief and reputed loanshark.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1966
    Age -2
    Born on March 22, 1966.
    More Details Hide Details
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