BEST CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS - 2005
BEST CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS Philip Gratz Hey, dummy, stop shaking your head in wonder at how wise guys end up with million-dollar homes, luxury cars, and extravagant vacations. Here's how: They spend other people's money. Feel stupid? At least you weren't among the boneheads across the country, three of whom resided in South Florida, who sent some $8.9 million to purported stock investor Philip Gratz from 1998 to early 2003. (Apparently they weren't aware that in 1995 Gratz was convicted of scheming to inflate the stock price of a Miami-based luxury-boat-rental company by falsifying its financial records.) Operating out of suburban New Jersey, Gratz lured his victims by promising unbelievable profits: 25 to 50 percent. He lived the good life until his arrest in January 2004. According to the 24-count indictment, he "misappropriated" more than three million dollars in investor funds for a fancy home, real-estate investments, two Mercedes Benzes, artwork, jewelry, watches, home furnishings, a vacation in St. Barthelemy, cruises, limousines, restaurants, designer clothes, retail purchases, and more. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hong persuaded a Miami jury to convict Gratz. This past November a local federal judge sentenced the 40-year-old hustler to a little more than seven years in prison and eight million dollars in restitution. Seven years of splendor in exchange for seven in prison and a ton of cash. Not a great investment. Now who's feeling like a dummy?