Some people have it all — they just want more. We’d say it’s human nature, but most of us have the integrity that these people lack. That’s why they’re our Top 10 White Collar Villains of 2010…
10. Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva: Embezzles $34 million from Koss to feed shopping addiction
Wisconsin headphone maker Koss took a pretty lax attitude toward Assistant Chief of Finance Sue Sachdeva. It doesn’t hurt that the CFO, the owner’s son, Michael Koss has a degree in Anthropology. He let Sachdeva take long, liquor-soaked lunches, leave early, and even telecommute, while she was in Houston with her pediatric surgeon husband, and when she moved back to Milwaukee. But how do you allow someone to embezzle $34 million in two years, including $18.5 the final year. This from a company that only booked $6 million in profit the last two years.
And how does one spend that much money on clothes? Sachdeva would go through stores buying several sizes and colors of items, then leave them at the store for later pickup. (So her husband wouldn’t be the wiser.) When during the last year she started shopping primarily online, she’d receive 20-30 deliveries a day. The Fed eventually impounded 22,000 items from a 1000 sq ft storage space. The 46-year old socialite was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and ordered to make restitution of
$500/month. That’s reasonable. She’ll only have to live to
5,713 to pay it off.
9. Daniel Hughes: Used $300K in Union pension monies on hookers
New York Port Authority Field Association Local 111-S President Daniel Hughes wanted to be a ladies man. But at 400 pounds he had to pay for the pleasure. Lucky he had access to pension funds he used to pay for $500/night male escorts. The 49-year old married father of one also used the $300,000 for gambling and personal expenses. Last we heard he was still out on bail and facing 46 to 57 months in prison.
8. Joel Pourier: Bilked Native American charter school to pay for stippers, Hummer
The executive director of Oh Day Aki/Heart of the Earth in Minneapolis, Joel Pourier, got the job based on a fraudulent resume nobody bothered to check. He was made finance director and then later executive director, earning $114,000/year. Not bad for a kid of a South Dakota reservation who never completed college. Yet he needed more, and proceeded to embezzle $1.38 million over five years, until the school had to close, bankrupt, in the Summer of 2008. (Nice job screwing your own.)
The married 40-year old used the money to purchase an Escalade, a Hummer,
fund a healthy strip club addiction, pay expenses for mistresses and
finance three homes valued at $667,000, $205,000 and $320,000.Pourier blamed alcoholism for his behavior, but for once someone wasn’t
buying his bullshit. Hennepin County Judge Joe Klein sentenced him to 10
years (he’s required to serve at least 7 of those), twice the normal
sentence, and $1 million in restitution.
Harvey, Illinois Mayor Eric Kellog has a pretty good thing going. He collects a second paycheck ($202K) as the School Superintendent, a position he was able to acquire with the help of relatives and people he employs who serve on the school board. For a while he was taking police training, which allowed him to get chummy with Detective Hollis Dorrough.
7. Eric Kellog: Mayor conspires with cop to frame man while trying to recover stolen coke
Willie Lloyd III tried to convince Javon Patterson to help him steal Dorrough’s huge cocaine stash. He passed, and Lloyd would later show him the score. Two months later he was dead of an unsolved homicide. A few weeks later Patterson was arrested on a bogus gun charge.At the Harvey police station, Patterson was allegedly questioned by
Dorrough and Kellogg about their cocaine. “Where’s my fucking cocaine?”
Kellogg asked. The
mayor then told Patterson to leave Harvey and never return or
Kellogg would pin a murder case on him.
Patterson spent 2 1/2 years in prison on the gun charge before an
appeals court overturned the conviction in 2008. Dorrough is serving three years in prison for illegally returning a
seized gun to a convicted drug dealer’s family. Patterson’s suing, and the court’s are allowing the case to go forward. Meanwhile Kellog continues to gild his pockets. Is this a great country or what?
6. Bonnie Sweeten: Fakes abduction after embezzling over $1 million
For a while people were worried about Bonnie Sweeten, but now their care what happens to her is of a whole different nature. The 38- year old suburban Philadelphia mom called 911 to say that she and her daughter had been kidnapped and thrown in the trunk of a Cadillac. In fact, Sweeten had stolen $12,000 from various accounts using a co-worker’s idenity, funding a trip for her and her daugther to Disney World.
When the relief of relatives subsided, authorities realized the Sweeten had stolen more than $700,000 from her boss and his clients, using the money to pay for gym memberships, designer clothes, and trips to the tanning salon. Sweeten’s also being investigated for stealing over $250,000 from her husband’s 92-year-old grandfather.
5. Neil Cohen: State assemblyman busted for child pornography hypocrisy
A New Jersey Democratic assemblyman since 1994, Neil Cohen helped champion legislation in the fight against the distribution of child pornography. But he had a slip up taking his work home with him. Cohen was downloading pictures of underage girls to take home with him when he left one of his print outs on a receptionist’s desk. Four days later the computers were seized and he was charged, the 59-year old
resigned from his seat and checked himself into a psychiatric hospital. (Yes, you need help.) He was sentenced last month to five years in prison.
4. David Brooks and Sandra Hatfield: War profiteers defraud government of $190 million
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. 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, along with other shenanigans, like inside trading. The
Interceptor vest is used by most of the country’s servicemen and women.
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. They received a total of 45 years, the maximum, and the government is seeking forfeiture of more than $150 million of identifiable assets held by Brooks and $3 million held by Hatfield.
3. Lee Farkas: Defrauded TARP fund of $550 Million
Lee Farkas was the chairman of the largest mortgage lender in the
country, Taylor, Bean, & Whitaker Mortgage Corporation based out
of Florida. For years, the company originated and purchased billions in sub prime
home loans. Then, in 2002, those junk loans began causing the company
all sorts of cash flow problems. They lied about their performance to dump them on banks (like Colonial Bank, which declared bankruptcy). When the market tanked and they couldn’t sell them for spit, he concocted a scheme to get the government to pay for them, reaping $550M from the TARP program. The troubled lender alleged in bankruptcy court that Farkas had withdrawn more than $50 million from the business for his personal benefit and for companies he controlled. He’s plead not guilty and will go to trial in February.
2. Goldman Sachs: Pay $550M settlement for lying to clients
You’d like to think you could trust you broker, but alas, he generally has bigger fish to fry than you. In this case Goldman Sachs was unloading stock on its clients that they thought so little of, they were shorting it, betting the value would go down. (“But I’m sure it’ll do well for you.”) The $550 million fine is the largest ever against a financial firm and the third-largest in SEC history. (AIG paid $800M in 2006.) Of the $550M, $250M will go to harmed investors, while the rest will go directly to the US Treasury.
1. GlaxoSmithKline: Knowingly sold contaminated, ineffective drugs, settles for $750M
British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, (third largest in the industry,
booking $2 billion in profit just last quarter) couldn’t be bothered to
make their drugs safe and effective. It turns out one of their
premier manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, producing more than 20
drugs worth $5.5 billion each year, had laxer health standards than a
Tijuana Mexican restaurant. In 2002, they sent Cheryl Eckard, the company’s quality manager visited the plant to answer some minor FDA complaints and discovered the place was a mess.
The water system was contaminated, the air system allowed for
cross-contamination between products, the plant could not ensure the
sterility of intravenous drugs for cancer, and pills of differing
strengths were sometimes mixed in the same bottles. As a result, many
pills were ineffective or
made people sick. Eckerd suggested they recall the drugs and close the plant. Instead they
abandoned even indulging the small fixes the FDA suggested. Eckerd complained and was fired, but she helped the FDA lead an investigation, receiving more than $96 million of the government’s $750 million settlement in the whistleblower suit. (Whistleblower suits earned the government $3.1 Billion last year, 80% of it from health care companies. And you wonder why premiums keep going up?)