Courts & Crime

Minkow given 5 years for defrauding Lennar investors

Barry Minkow, the one-time teen whiz who defrauded investors of millions through a bogus carpet cleaning business in the 1980s, is headed back to prison for a five-year stint after pleading guilty to scheming to depress the stock of Miami-based builder Lennar Corp.

Minkow, who left prison in 1988 and became a pastor and fraud discovery informant for the FBI, relapsed into white collar crime in 2009, when he teamed up with one of Lennar’s rivals to publish a series of reports about the home builder that were based on false information and used as a form of blackmail against Lennar. The result was a 20 percent drop in the company’s stock price over a two-day period in January 2009, equivalent to more than $500 million in value.

In a Miami federal courtroom Thursday morning, Minkow’s attorney asked the judge to consider his client’s positive contributions to society, including the work he did helping the government root out financial fraud, and his service as a pastor at a Southern California church.

“We’re asking the court to consider the other fraud he has uncovered, the $1 billion in fraud he has uncovered,” said Alvin Entin, attorney for Minkow. “He’s not he devil incarnate.”

Entin also represented Minkow when he was charged as an 18-year-old with bilking investors who invested in his fraudulent multimillion-dollar carpet cleaning business. Minkow served seven years for altering the financial records at that company, ZZZZ Best.

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