A Sun-Sentinel article this morning details the luxury items the fraudulent Mutual Benefits Corp. purchased for the Parkland home of Broward County Mayor Stacy Ritter and her husband Russ Klenet.
That's fine, but what's really interesting is that Ritter speaks out on what she really thinks of Mutual Benefits president Joel Steinger and his brothers.
"I only met them briefly, once or twice, on a social basis and, candidly, didn't like them very much," she wrote the newspaper in an e-mail. "They gave me the creeps."
Wow. Ritter says that the people who helped make her wealthy were creepy.
So creepy that Ritter attended Mutual Benefits parties, like the 2003 Christmas bash at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale. Witnesses say she sat with Joel Steinger himself and flirted the night away.
So creepy that Ritter would fly in a private plane to the Mutual Benefits' estate in Maine, where she and Russ would vacation. The home wasn't in the name of Joel Steinger, but rather his brother Steven and Steven's life partner, Henry Fecker, who were both pawns in Joel Steinger's grand game.
So creepy that, according to court documents, Ritter invited Joel Steinger to her 2004 New Year's Eve party at the Parkland home. Steinger attended and, presumably, finally got to enjoy the $117,000 home renovation he paid for, including the $10,000 grand piano and $14,000 paintings. Note that the invitation came months AFTER the SEC shut down Mutual Benefits and declared it a Ponzi scheme.
Her husband obviously didn't share her impression of Steinger. Court records indicate he was constantly at the man's 15,000 square-foot home on the Intracoastal, helping to further the fraudulent company's agenda and aid the convicted felon in charting his next scurrilous move.
I guess corruption like that would give just about anyone the creeps, even a political opportunist like Ritter. It's sort of weird, though the way the mayor lies and says she only met them once or twice, when it was much more than that.
She did have plenty of reason to think Joel Steinger was creepy (even though people who know him say he's funny and charming, like most good sociopaths are). He was already a criminal when she first him, after all.
Court records show that Steinger:
-- Was enjoined by a federal court in New York from "further violating the anti-fraud privisions of the Commodity Exchange Act." Funny thing about getting caught doing wrong in the world of finance, the punishment is often the equivalent of "Don't do it again." But Steinger did it again and again.
-- In 1981, Steinger was convicted in federal court of mail and wire fraud for his role in another commodity options rip-off. It's not clear what his punishment was for committing those felonies.
-- In 1989, Steinger was finally permanently barred from the commodities industry. Thank goodness for those market watchdogs. And you wondered how Madoff prospered for so long?
-- In 1998, Steinger and his late brother, Leslie, was enjoined by the federal court in south Florida from further violating anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities law for ripping off investors in Mutual Benefits. The court ordered him to repay $850,000 to victims.
-- At least six states barred Mutual Benefits and/or their sales reps from operating in their jurisdictions after finding that the company was a fraud.
All this before then-Sen. Steven Geller embraced Steinger because he says he thought he was a "good guy" in the industry. It was Geller who then hooked his buddy Russ Klenet up as a lobbyist for Mutual Benefits and they helped protect Mutual Benefits from state regulators. Stacy Ritter, of course, voted in favor of one of their most brazen measures while she served as a state representative.
Creepy? You betcha.