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. 5 On June 16, prosecutors won a superseding indictment charging Minkow with credit card fraud and two additional counts of mail fraud. 20 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, 21 a story he later admitted was false. 3 On December 14, he was found guilty on all charges. 15 On March 27, 1989, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
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8 On July 2, minkow abruptly resigned for "health reasons." by this time, his company's stock had tumbled.50 a share—an 81 percent drop from its high in February. 18 It turned out that on June 27, an independent law firm zzzz best retained to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing asked for the addresses for all of the company's restoration jobs. Minkow knew he could not produce them, prompting him to resign six days later. 3 Later, he reportedly told a member of his board that the insurance restoration business had been a sham from the very beginning. 5 zzzz best's new board conducted an internal investigation that largely substantiated the fraud allegations. On July 6, it sued Minkow, alleging that he had absconded with 23 million in company funds. The company claimed that its assets had been drained to the point that it was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 19 Two days later, the los Angeles Police department raided zzzz best's headquarters and Minkow's home, and found evidence that the company was being used to launder drug profits for organized crime. 10 13 Conviction and prison edit 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. The indictment accused Minkow of bilking banks and investors of millions of dollars writing while systematically draining his company of assets.
3 to calm nervous investors, minkow issued a press release touting record profits and revenues, but did so without notifying Ernst whinney (now part of Ernst young the yardage firm responsible for auditing the company prior to the keyserv deal. The press release also implied that Drexel had cleared zzzz best of any wrongdoing, briefly stopping the decline. However, Drexel abruptly pulled out of the deal a few days later, causing the stock price to fall again. 3 8 Drexel's withdrawal stopped the deal only four to seven days before it was due to close. 17 The day after this press release, ernst whinney discovered that Minkow had written several checks to support the validity of the non-existent contracts. Many of them had been written to an associate who later told Ernst whinney officials about the fraud. Minkow denied knowing the man, but shortly after the checks were discovered, Ernst whinney discovered that Minkow had cut two checks to him for an unrelated matter. When Minkow could not explain the checks, Ernst whinney resigned as his company's auditor. However, it did not inform the sec of its suspicions until a month later.
The woman tracked down several other people who had been defrauded by minkow 8 and gave a diary of her findings to the los Angeles Times. The times then wrote a story revealing that Minkow had run up 72,000 in fraudulent credit card charges in 1911 The story, which ran just days before the keyserv merger was to close, sent zzzz best stock plunging 28 percent. Within hours of the story breaking, zzzz best's banks either called their loans or threatened to. Drexel postponed closing until it could investigate further. Later that day at a press conference, a reporter detonated another bombshell. She had evidence database that the sacramento project didn't even exist. More seriously, she'd discovered that zzzz best did not have a contractor's license required for large-scale restoration work.
The merger would have made minkow the president and chairman of the board of the largest independent carpet-cleaning company in the nation. 3 even as the process of merging with keyserv got underway, minkow had ambitions of becoming more powerful. He was already making plans to raise 700800 million to buy serviceMaster in a hostile takeover. 7 17 he also had plans to expand to the United Kingdom. 2 Outside of carpet cleaning, he had begun preliminary discussions to buy major league baseball 's seattle mariners. 17 Then, almost as rapidly as zzzz best rose, it fell due to the credit card fraud of several years earlier. Minkow had blamed the fraudulent charges on unscrupulous contractors and another employee, and paid back most of the victims. However, he had not paid back a homemaker who had been overcharged a few hundred dollars. 3 Minkow ignored the woman's requests to pay her back.
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The feshbachs and other short-sellers began taking positions, anticipating that the company's stock would fall. 12 Additionally, none of the company's four outside directors had any experience running a public company. 13 Downfall edit writing by february 1987, zzzz best essay was trading at 18 a share on nasdaq, valuing the company at 280 million. 14 The company now had 1,030 employees with offices across California, arizona and nevada. 15 Minkow's stake was worth 100 million. He appeared to be the ultimate American success story.
16 However, the company was still facing severe cash flow shortages from paying investors for the non-existent restoration projects. Minkow needed another infusion of cash and thought he had it when he heard that keyserv, the authorized carpet cleaner for sears, was being sold by its British parent. 3 Drexel Burnham Lambert offered to finance the deal with a private placement of junk bonds. 17 Minkow thought that keyserv's sears business would give zzzz best enough cash to end the ponzi scheme sooner than planned. 7 Although keyserv was double the size of Minkow's company, the two companies agreed to a 25 million deal in which zzzz best would be the surviving company.
Had he done so, he would have discovered they were mailboxes located throughout the san Fernando valley. 3 7 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 at the time, he had to retain his personal shares for two years. He planned to sell a million shares to the public in January 1988, believing this would give him enough money to pay everyone off and go completely legitimate. 2 3 8 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. 7 Minkow launched a massive television advertising campaign portraying zzzz best as a carpet cleaner that southern Californians could trust. 9 he owned a ferrari and a bmw, and bought a mansion in the wealthy valley community of woodland Hills. 10 he had ambitions of making the company "the general Motors of the carpet-cleaning industry." 6 The company's chief financial officer, charles Arrington, was accused of running up 91,000 in fraudulent charges against customers of his florist business. 11 When the feshbach brothers, a pair of short-sellers, learned that Minkow still stood behind Arrington, they did further investigating and discovered zzzz best's claimed 7 million contract to clean carpets in Sacramento was likely a fraud.
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Catain later sued Minkow first 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. 2 Other organized crime figures turned up as Minkow's advisers, which unnerved his employees. 3 For instance, a major shareholder, maurice rind, had been convicted gender of securities fraud in 1976. Minkow was also a business partner with Robert Viggiano, a convicted jewel thief and reputed loanshark. 6 going public edit At the suggestion of a friend, minkow took the company public in January 1986, garnering a spot on nasdaq. 3 The accountant who audited the company before it went public did not visit the insurance restoration sites himself.
With the help of Tom Padgett, an insurance claims adjuster, minkow forged numerous documents claiming that zzzz best was involved in several restoration projects for Padgett's company. Padgett and Minkow formed a fake company, interstate Appraisal Services, that verified the details of these restorations to minkow's bankers. Flush with loans from these banks, minkow expanded zzzz best across southern California. 4, while most Ponzi schemes are based on non-existent businesses, zzzz best's carpet-cleaning division was real and won high marks for its quality. 2, however, its insurance restoration division, which eventually accounted for 86 of company revenues, was fake. 5, minkow raised money by factoring his accounts receivable for work under contract, as well as floating funds boon through several banks in an elaborate check kiting scheme. Citation needed, after graduating from high school in 1985, minkow devoted all of his time to zzzz best. Short of cash, he got a loan from Jack catain, a los Angeles businessman who had ties to organized crime.
since he did not have a driver's license. 2, at first, minkow struggled to meet basic expenses. Two banks closed his business account because california law did not allow minors to sign binding contracts, including checks. He was also plagued by customer complaints and demands for payment from suppliers. At times, he found it difficult even to meet payroll. Faced with a shortage of operating capital, he financed his business via check kiting, stealing and selling his grandmother's jewelry, staging break-ins at his offices, and running up fraudulent credit card charges. 3, soon after, minkow branched into the "insurance restoration" business.
San diego, and spoke at schools about ethics. This all came to an end in 2011, when he admitted to helping deliberately drive down the stock price of homebuilder. Lennar and was ordered back to prison daddy for five years. Three years later he admitted to defrauding his own church and was sentenced to an additional five years in prison. As a result of his crimes, he faces having to pay a total of 612 million in restitution —an amount that he will likely spend the rest of his life repaying. Contents, beginnings of zzzz best edit, minkow was born in, inglewood, california to a jewish family, and was raised in the. Reseda area of, los Angeles. When he was nine years old, his mother got him a job as a telemarketer with the carpet-cleaning business where she worked.
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Barry jay minkow (born March 22, 1966) 1 is a former American 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. It collapsed in 1987, costing investors and lenders 100 million—one of the largest investment frauds ever perpetrated by a single person, as well as one paper of the largest accounting frauds in history. The scheme is often used as a case study of accounting fraud. After being released from jail, minkow became a pastor and fraud investigator.