Top 5 White Collar Crimes: Armor Manufacturers, David Brooks and Sandra Hatfield, Accused Of Defrauding US Military
Friday, July 30, 2010 at 9:00 am
Everyone knows that you never mess with a bridezilla's special day. But Karen Tucker didn't let the threat of a bunch of disappointed brides stop her from pulling off a major scam.
The 47-year-old seasoned scam artist claimed she was putting on the "Northeast's Biggest Home & Bridal Show." Under a phony events planning company, The Boston 411, she convinced the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority they would be holding a three-day bridal expo at Boston's Hynes Convention Center, though she never put down the money to reserve the place.
She then proceeded to take out numerous ads claiming that thousands of brides-to-be had already registered and that more than 200 venders had already reserved spots, making booth rentals limited.
Tucker even went so far as to claim that there were special donation tickets available, from which all proceeds would be donated to victims of the Haiti earthquake.
In the end, Tucker managed to collect thousands in fees from advertisers, whom she promised print ads in the event's publication. Of course, Tucker didn't spend a penny of that money on the event.
Instead, Tucker paid her rent and went shopping at Walmart.
And once police caught onto her scam, they soon realized that she lived nowhere near the Boston area, but in Brookline, Pennsylvania.
This also wasn't the first time Tucker attempted to pull off a phony event like this. She'd already orchestrated similar lucrative stunts in Miami, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Dallas, and Columbus, Ohio.
On Tuesday, Tucker appeared in federal court on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
4. Kenneth Starr
If you read Top 5 White Collar Crimes each Friday, then you probably know that Kenneth Starr is one of our favorite subjects.
We've already told you that the former financial advisor is facing federal fraud charges for ripping off his A-list roster of clients -- mostly big name Hollywood types like Uma Thurman and Ron Howard, from whom he stole more than $59 million.
We also reported that his wife -- a former stripper -- wasn't too happy that her husband's assets were then frozen. She promptly requested that the court unfreeze them so that she wouldn't have to go back to rubbing her well-oiled assets all over desperate men.
Then, we mentioned that, after ripping his clients off, Starr had the audacity to sue one of them for "bookkeeping fees." And it wasn't just any client that he slapped with a lawsuit -- but the Oscar-winning director, Martin Scorsese.
Now, we bring you even more mind-blowing news from Starr's shady world.
When police arrived at his $6.5 million New York City penthouse apartment - which he'd allegedly purchased with the stolen funds -- Starr was apparently hiding in his closet.
Starr, who has pled not guilty to all the charges, tried to explain that he was hiding in his closet because he mistook the police raid for a "criminal home invasion."
Of course, the feds have already proved that's a bunch of nonsense. They have checked his phone records to discover that, while hiding in his closet, Starr wasn't frantically dialing 911 -- but calling his son.
Prosecutors say that Starr was calling his son to tell him that the feds were onto him and stay away from his office, lest he be arrested, too.
Looks like Starr's defense is getting weaker and weaker everyday. Or every Friday, at least.
3. Ross Mandell
After an embarrassingly public scandal, criminal charges, and a career in the dumps, where else is there to go but...reality TV?
That's where one fallen Wall Street investor plans on heading after finding his reputation in shambles.
In July 2009, Mandell was federally indicted on charges that he defrauded investors by pushing them to invest in a bunk company, raking in more than $140 million that he and five other traders then used to fund their lavish lifestyles.
Released on $5 million bail, Mandell has pled not guilty to the charges, but, if he's found guilty, can expect a sentence up to 25 years in prison.
But that doesn't seem to phase the 53-year-old swindler one bit.
While blacklisted from Wall Street, Mandell is hoping to make his newest fortune on reality TV.
Mandell says that he hasn't secure a television deal yet, but that many networks are interested in his pitch -- a show about a fallen from grace trader, his crazy wife, and a cadre of mixed-martial arts fanatics.
Mandell, however, claims that his search for a TV show has nothing to do with money. He's hoping that a spot on prime-time will help him to humanize himself, improve his reputation, and clear his name.
He is claiming that he's being unfairly targeted by US authorities because of all the work he did bringing US companies from the States to the London Stock Exchange.
2. Charlie Rangel
After 40 years and 20 terms on the House of Representatives, Charlie Rangel, a Democrat from New York, is in serious hot water at a crucial juncture for Democrats who already fear that they'll lose seats in the upcoming elections.
The target of an ethics investigation launched by the very party to which the longstanding Harlem congressman pledges his allegiance, Rangel has been charged with unspecified wrongdoing after an exhaustive investigation into his financial disclosure forms and tax filings.
Even if you don't follow politics, you've seen Rangel's mug before. A frequent pundit on news channels and one of "the" faces of black politics in America, Rangel is probably one of the most respected and most powerful congressmen in Washington.
But now, one of the country's best known Democrats is facing allegations that he violated House ethic rules while fundraising -- possibly even misappropriating funds and using political donations to fund his private lifestyle -- including vacation homes abroad. He's already admitted that he's failed paying taxes on his Dominican vacation property and omitted hundreds of thousands of dollars from his financial disclosure forms.
Right now, Rangel's lawyers are in settlement talks with the House's Ethics Committee, hoping to stave off a very public trial that would not only hurt Rangel's image, but those of the high profile Dems who've come to his defense, as well.
If found guilty of the charges, Rangel will face little more than public humiliation. The Ethics Committee has already said that it is highly unlikely that he'll be removed from his seat.
1. David Brooks and Sandra Hatfield
If you thought our story on Joel Potter -- the man who received two years in prison for selling the US military bad helicopter parts -- was bad, then wait until you read this.
David Brooks is the founder and former chief executive of DHB Industries, the US Military's leading supplier of body armor. Sandra Hatfield is the company's former chief operating officer.
Together, the two swindled the US Military out of more than $190 million, according to the feds.
Brooks and Hatfield are accused of lying about the performance and stock value of their best selling product, the Interceptor bullet-proof vest, in order to sell it to the US Military at an inflated price. The Interceptor vest is used by most of the country's servicemen and women.
After ripping off the US Military, Brooks and Hatfield proceeded to open up a series of off-shore bank accounts, into which they deposited the exorbitant profits. Scotland Yards has said that it discovered Brooks hiding more than $3.6 million in a London safe deposit box.
With that cash, Brooks bought himself a stable of race horses, porno for his sons, a $100,000 gem-encrusted US flag belt buckle, plastic surgery for the wife, and prostitutes for his staff. He also paid to have Aerosmith and 50 Cent perform at his daughter's Bat Mitzvah, while Tom Petty and The Eagles played at other private parties for the family.
But the shopping spree came to an end when Brooks and his partner in crime were finally charged with defrauding the US Military. They both resigned from their posts and the company, shortly after changing its name, filed for bankruptcy.
Their six-month long federal trial just came to an end this week. If found guilty, Brooks faces up to 30 years in prison.
Read last Friday's Top 5 White Collar Crimes: Goldman Sachs Settles Largest Fraud Case In US History for $550 Million.