Wild, Wild West

Once convicted of fraud and in debt to the IRS for a cool million, Steven West is some kind of businessman

There's not much public information available about West's life before he reached middle age. Born Steven Samuel Watstein on August 9, 1941, West was raised in a working-class Jewish family. He describes his early years thusly in the Millionaire book: "If ever there was a loser with almost everything in the world against success, I was the one. First of all, let's take the matter of being born on the wrong side of the tracks -- that's bad enough, but to be born on the wrong side of the tracks -- be poor -- and be unattractive -- well, that's a little too heavy for anyone."

It wasn't until he reached 18 years old and was -- he claims in his books -- a student at the University of Pennsylvania that his current persona began to take shape. At Penn, West contends, he dropped the Watstein name and earned a degree from the prestigious Wharton School of Business. But that story doesn't ring completely true. A representative in Wharton's student records office found no evidence of a Steven Watstein or a Steven West attending that school. Oh yes, the representative offered, Penn graduated a Steven West in 1991 with a degree in veterinary sciences. But there are no Wharton graduates with either name.

Jordin Isip
Jordin Isip

By 1977, West's life was in full swing. That year, he married Sherri Weinman, published five books, and bought two chains of department stores. The books: What Happens After Death? You Don't Have to Die to Find Out; How to Live to Be 100 and Enjoy It!; Mental Calisthenics; The Power and Pleasure of Sex; and the aforementioned How to Live Like a Millionaire on an Ordinary Income were all cowritten with Donald Tyburn-Lombard who, like West, doesn't seem to have written any commercially available books since. The publisher has apparently shut down, or at least, that's the theory of an Asian grocery-store operator in New York City who answers the last listed number for Aabbott McDonnell Winchester Publishers. A Google.com search also turns up no trace.

New Times was able to obtain copies of three of the books, How to Live Like a Millionaire on an Ordinary Income; How to Live to Be 100 and Enjoy It!; and What Happens After Death? You Don't Have to Die to Find Out through Amazon.com, which ranks them in sales, respectively, as 1,023,376; 2,218,279; and 1,783,943.

As their titles suggest, the works can generally be described as self-help. Each seems to be little more than a gathering of information readily available at the time, reorganized, and written simply, with many grammatical errors. Dashes of 1970s pop wisdom appear throughout. That's no surprise considering that West claims he's completed graduate programs in psychology, metaphysics, and scientology at the College of Divine Metaphysics and at the Silva Mind Control Institute -- as well as at "other leading human potential groups and institutes." The books boast chapters devoted to meditation, the health benefits of astrology, and a lengthy section touting the merits (and methods) of regularly self-administering enemas. In post-publication interviews, he called himself "the Jack LaLanne of the mental spa business." Of the five volumes, only the Millionaire book contains sections that suggest the ingenuity, chutzpah, and familiarity with legal gray areas that West seems to have relied upon in his business career.

In one chapter of the Millionaire book, West explains that the value of a company can be legally inflated in financial statements by assigning an arbitrary fair-market value to the individual shares of stock and then explaining that arbitrary assignment in the footnotes. "[W]ho is to say that your shares are not worth 50 cents each?" West asks in the book. It's a business philosophy that John Palumbo, a construction cost estimator employed by West in 2001, likens to a recent accounting scandal. "West was cooking the books to raise capital," Palumbo says. "On a much smaller scale, Steve West was doing exactly the same thing that WorldCom is being investigated for."

In that tome, West also tells readers that "the wealthy and successful men and women of this world wear beautiful clothes; ride in expensive cars... eat in the best restaurants where they are treated with the same deference shown to royalty. They also have magnificent offices with beautiful secretaries as well as luxurious homes in which they entertain royally."

On October 31, 1977, three days after the page-one Journal story about the Robert Hall sale, West again made headlines in that newspaper -- this time because he purchased 25 percent of the common stock of Federal's, a department-store chain concentrated in Detroit. The hostile takeover spurred Federal's board of directors to attempt to oust him; when they sued, West locked himself in his office at Federal's for four hours. Lawyers for the store informed the would-be tycoon that a judge had ordered him to leave.

But after West triumphed in court in March 1978, he gained control of Federal's. Later in 1978, several Federal's stores burned, according to a report published later in Newsday. West apparently denied involvement and suggested that he take a lie-detector test to show that neither he nor company officers were involved, the newspaper reported. There's no indication of whether the test was taken, but he was not charged in the case. By 1980, Federal's dissolved for failure to file reports and pay fees. It must have seemed to West then that business couldn't get worse. But it did.

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Steven Samuel Watstein (aka Steven West, aka Marc DeCarlo, aka David Longmire, aka Bradley Stevenson, aka James London) allegedly appears to be a convicted felon of Broward County Florida operating various entities (Salespeople Are Us salespeopleareus.com, Wall Street Executive Group, Wall Street Advisory Associates WallStreetAdvisorAssociates.com, Wall Street Equity and Acquisitions Group wseag.com, Indiana Sanchez Skin Products, IS Proof Foundation isfoun.org, West Investment Banking, West Telemarketing Industries, etc etc) and is currently operating out of the McNab Executive Plaza at 1000 West McNab Road, Pompano Beach, Florida 33069 and in the past 405 North Avenue of the Arts Suite 104 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311. Phone numbers are many but include 954-934-0800 and Cell 954-448-5500. Here is an example RipOff report on some of his alleged scams: