Barry Minkow Has To Pay Lennar Corp. $583 Million And Serve Five Years

An ex-con man who two years ago wreaked havoc on the price stock of a Miami-based national builder is going back to prison after pleading guilty to one count of securities fraud.

During a hearing yesterday morning, Miami federal Judge Patricia Seitz handed Barry Minkow a five-year prison term and also ordered he pay Lennar Corp. $583 million in restitution.

The 44-year-old San Diego native admitted to spreading false information in 2009 about Lennar via the Internet and contacts he knew in the FBI to tank the price of the company's stock. He even produced a YouTube video falsely accusing Lennar of committing a crime.

Minkow told federal investigators his scheme was meant to force Lennar into settling a long, messy lawsuit with the company's partner in a private golf community in California. He also conceded to using the FBI to launch an investigation against Lennar using his bogus claims.

In 1988, Minkow was convicted of 57 fraud counts after the feds discovered he was using his carpet and furniture cleaning company, ZZZZ Best, to commit rampant credit-card fraud. He spent seven years in prison and upon his release reinvented himself as a preacher and fraud detector.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.