John Farahi, a popular Iranian-Jewish radio talk-show host and investment adviser, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on March 18 in downtown Los Angeles to 10 years in federal prison for operating a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme against local Iranian-Americans. Farahi, 56, also was ordered by the court to pay more than $24 million in restitution to close to 60 victims.
A Ponzi scheme targeting the Persian-Jewish community in Los Angeles was shut down by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
"It's all just one big lie."
With those words Bernard Madoff confessed to senior executives of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities that the $17 billion hedge fund he founded was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. Madoff is at the center of "the largest investor swindle ever blamed on a single individual."
The news that broke today on the front pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reverberated in Jewish communities across the world. "A lot of Jewish charities had investments with him," one prominent investor told The Jewish Journal. "So did a lot of Jews."
UPDATE: Among the victims was the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles.
Wall Street's problem, in the president's mind, is not a systemic pathology, not an illness that comes on the same chromosome as the profit motive. Instead, it's the behavior of a frat boy on a bender, the reckless phase of a good-time Charlie rather than the symptom of profound disease.
But there's also a less benign explanation for the media's negligence, and it's captured by something President Andrew Jackson said nearly two centuries ago: "If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning."
On Dec. 19, 2007, the U.S. Attorney General's Office filed an indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California naming the Chasidic yeshiva and four other Spinka organizations, as well as eight people, in a multimillion dollar tax fraud and money-laundering ring that stretched from Brooklyn to Los Angeles to Israel and elsewhere.
After being left a quadriplegic in a car accident in 1993, 53-year-old Alice Wintz received an insurance settlement that she thought would, with careful investing, leave her financially secure for life.
So she asked money manager Reed Slatkin to invest her settlement. Wintz and her ex-husband had met Slatkin in 1986 through a business associate, and considered him a friend. Impressed with his charm and financial acumen, and, having had what Wintz describes as a "good experience" investing a small amount of money with him in 1986, they thought they could trust him with the insurance settlement.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had accused Slatkin of running a Ponzi scheme shortly after he filed for bankruptcy in May 2001. (A Ponzi scheme is a phony investment plan in which money provided by later investors is used to pay artificially high returns to the initial investors, with the goal of attracting as many investors as possible.) Slatkin's alleged scheme is said to be one of the biggest cases of investment fraud in American history.