Barry Minkow Released From Prison
LOMPOC, Calif. (AP) _ Former carpet-cleaning whiz kid Barry Minkow was released from prison Wednesday after serving seven years for bilking investors and banks out of millions of dollars.
He had served less than a third of his 25-year sentence.
Minkow left Lompoc Federal Prison for the Gateway Community Correctional Center in Los Angeles, a halfway house where he will stay 30 to 90 days to readjust to life on the outside, said Monica Wetzel, a regional spokeswoman for the federal bureau of prisons.
Minkow, 28, was lionized as an American success story, starting his ZZZZ Best Co. at the age of 16 and running the carpet-cleaning firm out of his parents’ garage.
Before his indictment, Minkow amassed a paper fortune of $109 million and bought an expensive home and a Ferrari.
He was indicted in 1988, when investigators found he was using money from new investors to pay off others while the company performed almost no work in a Ponzi scheme that cheated investors and banks out of more than $100 million.
Minkow was convicted of securities fraud, credit card fraud and mail fraud. He also was ordered to repay the victims of his schemes $26 million out of his future earnings.
Ten of Minkow’s 11 co-defendants pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators, receiving sentences ranging from 30 days in a halfway house to eight years in federal prison.
Minkow was sent to a minimum security camp at Englewood, Colo., then was transferred to Lompoc in 1992.
From prison, Minkow earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in correspondence courses from Liberty University in Virginia, founded by Jerry Falwell, family members told the Daily News of Los Angeles.
While in custody, Minkow also volunteered on a videotape helping accountants spot fraud schemes, said his sister, Gail Foy. She said he has written two books on the subject that are due out soon.