Many people have respect for the wealthy, but no one respects these rich convicts. These people are currently in prison for various reasons.
Admiration often follows the ethos of the rich and the famous. Many millionaires and billionaires are idolized for their positions in society. After all, who doesn't love Amazon Prime (Jeff Bezos) or getting an Uber anywhere at anytime (Travis Kalanick)? However, not everyone earns their fortune ethically. Wealth and status are not the panacea for crime.
Lord Baron Acton may have said it best, "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." While we would like to believe in the best in people, not all that glitters is gold. Here are 10 of some of the wealthiest people currently serving prison sentences.
Michael Jace - $400,000 - $1 Million
According to the LA Times, the eldest son overheard Jace say, "If you like running, then run to heaven." Jace ironically was most well known for his role as a police officer on The Shield. In reality, he is a convicted murder who will serve forty years to life in prison.
Phil Spector - $35 Million
The 80-year-old record producer credited on IMDb for his work on iconic 80's films Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, and Sixteen Candles has been sitting in prison since his 2009 second degree murder conviction. According to the LA Times, Spector was the first celebrity found guilty in over 40 years. Actress Lana Clarkson was found shot in Spector's home in 2003. During witness tetestimoylaimed she too had been threatened with a gun by Spector in an attempt to intimidate her into sex.
His alleged pattern of violent behavior toward women is disturbing. This begs the question as to why Spector's work has been credited on an incredible amount of TV shows and movies since his guilty verdict. Although his music is no doubt influential, it's still slightly discomforting to hear it on The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.
Martin Shkreli - $70 Million
Martin Shkreli made headlines in 2015 when he was arrested for securities fraud. The Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO was eventually sentenced to 7 years in prison in March of 2018. His specific crimes included in his hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, out of millions of dollars and refusing to pay them back in cash.
However, these crimes were not what made the then 35-year old public enemy number one. After inflating prices for a life-saving medication by 5,500 percent, By claiming given a second chance, "I probably would have raised the price higher."
Stewart Parnell - Unknown
Although his net worth is unknown, the former owner of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) must have been pretty wealthy considering how much. Wealth aside, Stewart Parnell's crime makes him worthy of a spot on this list.
In 2015, Parnell was handed a 28-year sentence for corporate food poisoning. The salmonella outbreak of 2008 responsible for the deaths of nine people was linked to PCA's peanut butter paste, according to CNN. Allegedly, Parnell was aware of the dangers posed by the paste, but told employees, "just ship it." Parnell's was a tragic example of corporate greed gone too far.
Wong Kwong Yu - $1.6 Billion
Wong Kwong Yu was a high school dropout who founded Gome Electrical Appliances in Beijing in 1987 on borrowed cash. His was an inspiring success story until his 2010 arrest. Convicted for bribery, insider trading, and stock manipulation, the billionaire is expected to be released in 2024.
The investigation of his crimes was rather sudden, leading many to question the motivations behind his arrest. It is well known that CEOs occasionally cozy up to government officials. In this case, five were arrested in association with Wong. The scandal surrounding this case even transcended borders. Three Bain Capital executives associated with Wong were also fired after the incident (though ultimately allowed to return to their positions).
Ng Lap Seng - $1.8 Billion
Ng Lap Seng from Macau made his fortune in real estate. He was arrested in 2015 over bribery charges. The reported the allegations against him as paying the late former UN General Assembly president John Ashe to support the development of a UN conference center in Macau.
Despite his previous pleas of innocence, U.S. courts found him guilty, hearing testimony from Francis Lorenzo that he had indeed received bribes. Ng's lawyers reportedly claimed the prosecution was politically motivated to stop Chinese influence over developing nations. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2018 and furthered fined one million dollars for his crime.
Allen Stanford - $2.2 Billion
Allen Stanford became infamous for his role in creating the second-largest investor fraud scandal in U.S. history. His 8 billion dollar Ponzi scheme was shut down in 2009 after an FBI raid. that landed the billionaire 110 years in prison served as little comfort to his tens of thousands of victims. The money he had stolen was long spent, and the former investors have only received 5 cents back for every dollar given to Stanford.
Many of those victims were middle-class: teachers, nurses, police officers, etc. The losses they suffered were in large part due to Stanford's . He had partnerships with Toronto Dominion Bank, HSBC, and Societe Generale. Allegedly, despite receiving reports of Stanford breaking banking laws in California and Florida, it took over a decade for authorities to put him behind bars.
Ding Yuxin - Multi-Billionaire
Ding Yuxin was the chairwoman of the Boyou Investment Management Corp in Shanxi, China. In 2014 she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for bribery that Ding gave Railways Minister Liu Zhijun 49 million yuan (roughly $7 million) in exchange for government contracts. Her company was responsible for securing 57 railway projects for clients valued at 185.5 billion yuan or nearly $30 billion.
The exact value of Ding's fortune before her arrest is difficult to find, but every estimate concludes she was a billionaire. Unfortunately for her, all of her connections will do her no good now. She was fined 2.5 billion dollars and her personal property was confiscated.
Viktour Bout - $6 Billion
Viktour Bout is undoubtedly the scariest man on the list. Dubbed the "Merchant of Death," Bout profited from terrorists, drug cartels, and even civil wars. He became well known to the defense community in the 80s when he began appearing in the hands of West African fighters. Even the U.S. government unknowingly hired Bout to supply troops in Iraq while they were searching to arrest him.
He was sin 2011, despite entering a not guilty plea. Bout has attempted to appeal his conviction many times. He has also requested to finish serving his sentence in Russia, where he is from. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Bout and his wife made a to pardon him. As of today, he is still in prison.
Bernie Madoff - $17 Billion
The former NASDAQ stock exchange chairman is famous for running the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. He defrauded his investors for over $50 billion over two decades. that the banks he defrauded (includig HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland) were complicit. Regardless, Madoff is the one serving 150 years in maximum security.
His scheme victimized thousands of people includingke Stephen Spielberg, , and Larry King. Madoff hurt a lot of people, but unlike Stanford's victims, at least they have been given more financial compensation (though not all of it, sadly).
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