Up Front: WHEELER-DEALERS
FROM CON TO CONVERT?
CONVICTED CON MAN BARRY Minkow is back--and set to enter the ministry. Minkow, 29, says he found Christ during his seven-year jail stint for masterminding one of the largest frauds ever. He does not see himself as a humble man of the cloth. "I'd just like to do what Billy Graham does," says Minkow, who is interested in a radio ministry.
First, though, there's the matter of the $26 million he owes his victims, who lent to or invested in his ZZZZ Best carpet-cleaning business, which produced little more than fake revenues. Minkow says he will turn over profits from his new book, Clean Sweep: A Story of Compromise, Corruption, Collapse, and Comeback. Ditto a portion of the speaking fees he says he's earning doing antifraud seminars for accountants.
Despite Minkow's new ties to God, he has not quite forsaken mammon. He's seeking a private ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on whether he can write off the victim payments. And he thinks he owes them only $11 million, because ZZZZ Best lawyers and accountants have already made some restitution. So is he a changed man? U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, who said Minkow had "no conscience" when sentencing him in 1989, still isn't sure. "I take what he says with a grain of salt," says Tevrizian.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Kevin Kelly