10 of Florida's Biggest Crooks
A list of Florida Trend's top 10 characters and white-collar crimes of the last 50 years. It wasn't easy to get it down to 10.
» They never got Victor Incendy. In Boca Raton in the late 1980s, he created publicly traded Cascade International, a women’s fashion retailer. Unfortunately for Cascade’s 1,500 investors, many of its 200 locations didn’t exist. The fact that some were real, says bankruptcy trustee Kenneth Welt, only made the scam more convincing. Incendy fled in 1991, and Cascade investors’ $170 million in equity was wiped out. Incendy’s wife, Jeannette, and other execs went to prison. Incendy remains a fugitive.
» David Paul was the high-flying chairman of CenTrust Bank, Florida’s largest S&L at the time it became one of the largest failures in U.S. banking history, costing taxpayers $1.7 billion. Paul, a bigwig in the national Democratic Party, philanthropist and society leader, pleaded guilty to racketeering, allegedly stealing millions from CenTrust and hiding financial troubles from regulators. His excesses proved to be small time relative to the bar later set at Enron and the like, but he wound up serving more than a decade, going free in 2004.
Glenn W. Turner
» A sharecropper’s son with a harelip and an eighth-grade education, Glenn W. Turner turned a few thousands dollars into hundreds of millions. He flew by Lear, built a castle in Seminole County, wore flashy red suits and challenged the thousands who came to hear him speak to “Dare to Be Great.” He once said, “My product was positive attitude.” One of the inventors of network marketing, he sold beauty supplies and later motivational materials. He ran afoul of regulators, adjusted his practices, tried again. Lawyers argued endlessly over whether he actually violated the law. Eventually, he was jailed in Arizona for nearly five years, getting out in 1992. He’s now 74 and semi-retired in Lake Mary.
ESM Government Securities
» When Fort Lauderdale’s ESM Government Securities went under in 1985 with $300 million in losses, it took with it Ohio-based thrift Home State, ESM’s largest customer. That in turn sank Ohio’s deposit guaranty fund. Ohio’s thrifts had to shut down while trying to get federal deposit insurance, the largest closing since the Great Depression. The trouble started years before when ESM lost $1-million on a trade and “convinced themselves they could trade out of it — common problem,” says Miami attorney Thomas Tew, the bankruptcy case trustee. Home State owner Marvin Warner, once Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to Switzerland and a part-owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spent more than two years in jail and then moved to his Ocala horse farm. He died in 2002.
» High school dropout Victor Posner became a real estate millionaire in Maryland before moving to Miami Beach in 1954. An early LBO and hostile takeover artist, he was part-industrialist — Sharon Steel, Royal Crown Cola, Arby’s, Salem Corp., Graniteville, NVF — part-philanthropist, part-louse. He pleaded no contest to tax evasion and fraud for jacking up the value of a donation to a college. He died in 2002.