Alison Cowan of the New York Times reports that the Bernie Madoff affair was not the first time the Wilpons have had to pay back money as a result of getting in early on a Ponzi scheme:
But for the owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, it is not the first time they have had their names and personal fortunes roughed up in a Ponzi scheme. An investment firm started by the two men had to pay back nearly $13 million two years ago when a hedge fund run by the scion of a wealthy New Orleans family collapsed in what was then regarded as one of Wall Street’s more brazen frauds.
I spent two years of my professional life defending a guy convicted of running a $50 million fraud, and part of that involved a number of mini-ponzi schemes and other assorted activities. One thing I learned is that a great number of the victims of such schemes are people who really like the idea of getting rich quick and who, either out of simple negligence or out of willful blindness, are eager to give their money to someone who promises quick and/or outsized returns on investment. Yes, some people are truly innocent victims, with the fraudsters creating elaborate schemes which withstand a reasonable amount of due diligence by the investor. But often times people are willing to skimp on the diligence because they are so dazzled by the prospect of boffo returns.
I have no idea where the Wilpons fall in all of this. But I do know that it’s not often that investors get burned by not just one, but two ponzi schemes. Especially allegedly sophisticated investors like the Wilpons.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.