"[Weisman] traces how a small office-equipment leasing company located in Syracuse, NY, became a conglomerate of resorts, hotels, and gambling casinos without adequate finances. By using new investors' money to pay off earlier investors as well as unethical and illegal business practices, they were able to stay afloat for many years. Finally, in 1996, after investors lost their money, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shut them down, forcing bankruptcy and filing charges against the Bennett family. Weisman's meticulously detailed but readable narrative includes the finances, personalities involved (including his own), and methods used to defraud many investors. A fine case study for business and law collections."—Library Journal
"Need and Greed is rich in detail and startling in the breadth of its revelations. Stewart Weisman is to be complimented. This would be fascinating fiction were it not horrifyingly true."—Larry S. Pozner, President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and NBC News Legal Consultant
More than just a tale of manipulated financial statements, counterfeit securities, sham transactions, and cyber fraud, this story is intertwined with personalities from among the rich and famous who were involved, in some fashion, such as Governor George Pataki, actress Debbie Reynolds, attorney F. Lee Bailey, and the former chairman of the SEC. In the largest pyramid scheme in American history, the Bennett Companies which even looted their own employee’s pension fund, fleeced more than 12,000 investors, 10,000 trade creditors, and 245 banks and financial institutions, of more than $1 billion.
A Ponzi scheme-named for Charles Ponzi, who enticed investors with promises of high returns to purchase worthless coupons in the 1920s- was taken to new heights in the 1990s by the Bennett Companies. Extensively documented, Need and Greed follows the human drama as a small-time scam grows exponentially into nationwide holdings of hotels, floating and fixed casinos, office buildings, shopping malls, and other investments.
It also allows the reader a rare view into the inner workings of big-time crime, its prosecution, and subsequent civil litigation.
Throughout the book, Weisman includes vignettes about hapless investors, portraits of the Bennetts and other key players, the corporate culture at Bennett Funding, and the trappings of the lush Bennett lifestyle.
Stewart L. Weisman, the former General Counsel at Bennett, has been practicing law for over seventeen years. Admitted in New York, Weisman coauthored "Customary International Law," published in the Syracuse Journal of International Law.
6 x 9, 392 pages, 10 black and white illustrations