Worse than Madoff!

Jan 18, 2011 7:00 AM

When it comes to con-men, Bernie Madoff ranks at the top of the list, considering the many billions of dollars he accumulated through his Ponzi dealings. His 150-year prison sentence underscores the size of his theft.

But, before Madoff, there was Brennan. That’s Robert E. Brennan, the man in the television ads suggesting from his helicopter that viewers "come grow with us." He was the king of the penny-stock "pump and dump" hustlers who duped thousands of investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Brennan has been in prison at Fort Dix, N.J., for nearly 10 years but his sentence ends in December. Ordinarily, he would be permitted to return to society, having paid his debt.

Not so, say investigators.

Not only was Brennan a champion at conning investors out of their money, he also was a magician in making his vast financial holdings disappear. Government investigators were only able to recover a small amount of his resources after he was ordered to pay $75 million to settle fraud claims that resulted from the bankruptcy of his First Jersey Securities.

Then, in 1995 when Brennan declared personal bankruptcy, the feds discovered he had withheld information regarding a half-million dollars in casino chips and some $4 million in bearer municipal bonds.

The chips were acquired from the Mirage Resorts Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas while the bonds were stealthily transmitted to a firm on the Isle of Man where they netted him $16 million after having been sold with accumulated interest.

That’s what landed Brennan in prison. He was found guilty of money-laundering and bankruptcy fraud.

Seized at the time were a Florida gambling boat called the Palm Beach Princess, his interest in thoroughbred racing, including the rebuilt Garden State racetrack and the Due Process Stable in New Jersey. Ironically, Brennan was successful in his racing operation, having raced the Eclipse Award winner Deputy Minister and having bred the stakes performer, Dehere.

During his heyday, Brennan is suspected of having established financial accounts in the Caribbean.

Looking to prohibit Brennan from returning to his high-flying, jet-set lifestyle, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has filed a motion to reopen Brennan’s bankruptcy case. The state’s motion cited a Caribbean trust and said its assets, if recovered, could be distributed to Brennan’s investors.

Brennan may have served his sentence (he is now operating out of a half-way house in Newark, N.J.) but, even at 66 years of age, he will find the government looking over his shoulder.

If there is money hidden out there somewhere, they want it.