Pastor Barry Minkow's redemption story went a long way considering his many demons: Personality disorder, narcissism, drug abuse, and lots of steroids.
Minkow, renowned for perpetrating the ZZZZ Best Ponzi scheme in the 1980s, is slated to be sentenced on July 7 after pleading guilty to a federal charge of manipulating stock of homebuilder Lennar Corp. (NYSE:LEN)
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Between these two federal crimes, Minkow had become a trusted church pastor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant, a private fraud investigator, and a celebrated reformed criminal looking forward to an upcoming movie on his transformed life.
Minkow's attorney, Alvin Entin of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., enumerated Minkow's personal struggles in an objection to a pretrial sentencing report, filed in a Federal court in Florida on Friday.
The document references an evaluation by a Dr. Michael Brannon on May 10.
"Included in Dr. Brannon's evaluation of Mr. Minkow is a diagnosis that includes Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety Disorder .. Opioid Dependence Disorder, Anabolic Steroid Abuse, Personality Disorder .. (antisocial and narcissistic features), and Severe Migraine Headaches," the court document states.
Dr. Brannon concludes: "He also should be strongly encouraged to distance himself from positions of authority, control, and persuasion of others including voluntary positions in business and the clergy."
Um. It's a bit late for that, doctor.
Eric Dransfield of Ocean Pacific Fuels in Murrieta, Calif., told me that in addition to Minkow's many other enterprises, he was running a run-down gas station. Dransfield claims Minkow left town owing him $47,000 for gasoline. In pursuing this debt, Dransfield said he discovered members of Minkow's church loaned Minkow money, in some cases using credit cards at the station.
"There are a lot of people from his congregation that I've talked to that lent him money," Dransfield said. "$300,000. $150,000. $100,000. $75,000. .. He had phenomenal sermons. .. They loved him."
Indeed. Minkow is so persuasive his own prosecutor wrote in favor of terminating his probation in a July 22, 2002 letter to a federal judge. Minkow's attorney provided a copy of this letter as part of his most recent filing.
"Mr. Minkow has shown not only that he is rehabilitated, but also that he has been able to direct his talent and energy in productive ways," wrote former prosecutor James Asperger. "He is now the pastor of a thriving church in San Diego."
Amazing Grace? More like amazing trust, considering how Minkow's own attorney now describes him:
"He has an extensive history of substance abuse, including marijuana and cocaine in high school, and an addiction to Vicodin (30 pills daily by 2007) and, eventually, oxycodone, 1,400 milligrams daily by 2009 up to and including December 2010.
"Mr. Minkow was diagnosed with ADHD before the first grade and he was prescribed Ritalin from age 6, until age 15, when in the 9th grade, he was able to redirect some his energy to weightlifting. .. Mr. Minkow has since been prescribed a generic of Adderall, which he now takes twice daily. .. However, his weightlifting was accompanied by chronic steroid abuse, which lasted for years. As a result, he underwent male breast reduction surgery in 2004, he was diagnosed with testicular atrophy in 2005, and he can no longer produce sperm or testosterone.
"Dr. John Milligan of Crossville, Tennessee is Mr. Minkow's current physician. He has .. prescribed anti-estrogen medication because "while Mr. Minkow's body does not produce testosterone, it does produce excess amounts of estrogen which in high levels is dangerous for him." "Mr. Minkow does not suggest he has a life-threatening disease, only that he has a long history of serious problems .. which require a litany of prescribed medications to control. He further suggests these conditions will tax the medical services of the Bureau of Prisons."
So please, your honor, don't lock up Pastory Barry for too long. He sure wouldn't want someone else stuck with his bills.
(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. Contact Al at email@example.com or tellittoal.com)