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To help clear her name, Ryan volunteered to help with the investigation. In October she flew from New York to South Florida, where she was interviewed by Broward County court investigators and the FBI. "As it turned out, the facts she provided us were pretty close to the truth," recalls Taft. "Not the whole truth...."
Taft remains convinced Ryan was integral to the scheme. "I don't think this works without her on the inside," he says. Ryan's position, as stated in court documents, is that she knew about the orders but didn't realize some were frauds.
Taft also wonders why no one at Lehman Brothers caught on sooner. "They sucked $3 million out of this account and no one ever said nothing about nothing?" he said. Guillermo Vega, the Lehman Brothers employee who submitted an affidavit in support of his company's civil suit, did not return phone calls for this story.
In early October 1999, when it became clear Lee Crompton's money was ebbing away, Judge Speiser held an emergency hearing to remove Peter Crompton as guardian and Gunnar Huber as the guardianship lawyer. A professional guardian replaced Crompton, while a court-appointed attorney replaced Huber.
That attorney's name is Alan Cohn. And he emphasizes that his goal is to find and recover Lee Crompton's money, not to punish anybody. "If there are criminal aspects of this case, it doesn't concern me in the least."
Luckily a good chunk of the money withdrawn under false pretenses was invested in real estate, meaning it is potentially recoverable. "When it's all done, my guess is that I will end up with $2.4 to $2.5 million," says Cohn. "There are some deep pockets here." Peter Crompton understands why Speiser removed him as co-guardian. (Linda Bourdet was also removed.) "With [Huber] being my so-called attorney, they didn't know if I was in cahoots with him or not. I guess I would have done the same thing in their position."
Crompton is a soft-spoken man who preferred to answers queries for this story via phone rather than in person. He contends the first he knew of Huber's doings was the day guardianship investigator David Cooper knocked on his door. "One more disaster," he says in a voice full of exhaustion and resignation.
Court investigators, however, maintain a healthy dose of professional skepticism about how much Peter Crompton knew. They stop just short of speculation, however, preferring to let the facts speak for themselves. "Peter Crompton did not emit any emotion when our special court monitor advised him about what we had reason to believe had occurred," Twomey says. "Whether he was stunned or whether he had knowledge, we don't know. Only Peter Crompton could tell you that."
And something strange happened while court investigator David Cooper was breaking the bad news to Crompton that day, comments Taft.
Cooper and Crompton were having a conversation in Crompton's Boca Raton residence when there was a knock at the door. Crompton went outside and talked to someone for about five minutes, Twomey says. Cooper couldn't identify the man but saw him drive away in a BMW convertible. Afterward Cooper spotted the same car parked outside the Lion & Eagle, a Boca Raton pub owned by Crompton. They wrote down the car's tag number and ran it when they got back to the office. "The license plate was Gunnar Huber's," Taft adds.
Cooper and Taft completed their investigation in July. They turned their findings over to the State Attorney's Office, which in turn suggested that the case might be a federal matter because the questionable court orders had been faxed from Florida to New York.
Then they returned to the other 120 open investigations of guardianship awaiting Twomey on his desk. "God knows how much is going on that we are not aware of," he says.