By Chuck Strouse
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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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The wet bar kept an eye on the pool table in the game room, where jerseys signed by Brett Favre and helmets autographed by Joe Namath lined glass cases. In the $500,000 home theater, lights twinkled like stars on the ceiling over red leather seats. Former Dolphins defensive end Jeff Cross could often be found fixing himself a drink, lounging on the couch.
The week after Healy called Madeira a multimillionaire, the chiropractor made the journey to South Florida for Shalese's baby shower. "I had no idea about the strip clubs and liquor — he basically said that he drank little to none," Madeira says. At the shower, Madeira sat across from Dennis Rodman, the flamboyant former NBA player who lives in South Florida. "I feel good karma from you," Rodman said.
"Thanks, I guess," replied a confused Madeira.
"It's good, man," Rodman said. "It's good."
Before Madeira returned to Pennsylvania, Healy took him aside. "If anything ever happened to you, Al, I'll make sure I watch after your family, if you would do the same for me," Healy said. "You never know what you're going to get into."
"Of course," Madeira said.
Back home, Madeira continued borrowing money from friends and colleagues. Shalese's baby arrived that September, just before the economy crashed. That December, Bernie Madoff was arrested for running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
"Can you believe that guy?" Madeira asked Healy.
"The guy deserves the chair, Al," Healy replied. "I can't believe anyone would take people's money, give them false documents, and just spend it. He makes me sick."
Healy had promised that the restrictions on their account would be lifted by February 11. But when the day arrived, the money did not. There had been another hold, Healy explained. There was another restriction. It's coming, it's coming. By then, Healy had sworn that his and Madeira's cash position stood at a combined $160 million. Look, it's coming.
It didn't. Now it was supposed to be the beginning of March. Madeira called Healy three times on March 5. Each time, Healy hung up on him.
The friends who had lent to Madeira were beginning to feel that it was a scam and that perhaps Madeira was in on it. "Sean, I can't wait anymore," Madeira told him over the phone. "I apologize, but I have to contact an attorney over this."
Madeira hired Paul Turner. Healy hired attorneys, who told Turner that Madeira's money had been lost in bad investments.
"But I still have personal wealth myself," Healy said. "I feel bad for Madeira, and I had no idea other people were involved." Of course, Healy had spoken with, met, and accepted wire transfers from the other investors. Healy offered Madeira about $6 million to settle up, which Madeira was interested in — if Sean could show documentation that the money was traded.
Madeira flew to Florida for an in-person meeting with the man who lost his millions and their attorneys. But the meetings kept getting pushed back. On the last day Madeira was in town, Healy's attorneys said the meeting was off.
So on March 16, Madeira sued Healy in federal court for the $14 million he had invested. Madeira asked a judge to freeze Healy's assets and force him to produce documentation of the trades.
At the April 2009 deposition, Healy stared at a brick wall and lied. Madeira had been careless, had wired monies too late, and that had put restrictions on their account.
Turner blinked at Healy. "So it's your position that whatever the amount is that Mr. Madeira sent to you, he should have sent more money?"
Healy provided Turner contact information for the New York trader who had supposedly put through the investments. Turner would soon discover that the phone number was disconnected, and the address Healy provided had never existed.
Healy offered Turner another phone number. It turned out that the number belonged to a pay-as-you-go cell phone that had been purchased in Weston, a few blocks from Healy's home — the same place where it was activated.
But the true mistake Healy made was tossing a stack of bank statements to Turner. They made little sense: Eight of the 12 pages from one month were duplicates, and pages were missing. And when Turner sent the documents to a post office inspector with a background in fraud, the man laughed. The papers had clearly been doctored. They were fakes.
On July 12, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges in Pennsylvania against Sean Healy: two counts of wire fraud and one count of unlawful monetary transactions. Shalese was named a relief defendant, meaning that the government would come after anything she owned that was bought with the stolen money.
"I believe that she was complicit in everything Sean did," Turner says.
At the April deposition, Shalese said the Lamborghini was an investor's car, despite the pink modifications. She said Sean told her he was flipping cars with a partner from a dealership. She'd even seen the boxes of T-shirts and business cards with the company name: Fast Motor Sports.
The SEC appointed a receiver, Miami attorney Melanie Damian, to freeze the Healys' accounts and seize their assets. Damian showed up at their home on July 13. Shalese was taken aback and scared. Healy, however, was fine. "Everything's going to be OK," he told her. "This is just a misunderstanding. We'll get everything back."