Straw Man

A boiler-room denizen describes a hustling career

So what happened to the money raised by Cash Today and Republic? Billups returned my phone call last week and swore he didn't take it. Ruth swindled him, and Long is a "crazy man," Billups complained, adding that he's living in a trailer home in Arizona, flat broke and looking for employment.

Did Ruth hide some of the money before he was caught?

"I have no idea," Billups answered. "Trying to conjure up what happened in this deal would be like some kind of black magic. It's impossible to figure out. All I know is, I have been ruined."

The FBI investigation of Cash Today is still open, and the bank account is still frozen. The FBI won't comment on it, but I would bet that Long won't be charged with anything. As he himself puts it, "Why would they care about me? I'm baby shit."

But he's paying a price for his transgressions. Seems none of his old boiler-room friends -- a gang of sociopath swindlers, dirty salesmen, and clueless businessmen -- will hire him. "Everybody thinks I'm wired, that I'm working for the FBI," he said. "Nobody wants to be around me anymore."

Then there are those misguided death threats. Nobody should physically hurt J.W. Long, but it is fitting that an old boiler-room man is now afraid of his own phone.

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