Barry Minkow in an '80s carpet-cleaning ad
  • Barry Minkow in an '80s carpet-cleaning ad
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San Diego's most famous (or infamous) man of the cloth owes the state $2615, according to a report from the Franchise Tax Board. His address is listed as 1 Federal Way in Atwater, California. That is Atwater High, a high-security federal penitentiary that also has a minimum-security satellite camp.

Minkow, 51, owes more than $600 million as a result of his crimes, so the state may have to wait.  He has a most interesting past: he pulled a huge Ponzi scheme that started when he was in high school. He got caught and was sentenced to 25 years. But he claimed he found God ("born again until out again"), was sprung from the big house, and was named pastor of San Diego Community Bible Church in 1997.

He formed the Fraud Discovery Institute on church property. He would discover corporate frauds, publicize them, and bet the stock would go down. Actually, he did some very good reports. According to Fortune magazine, he got paid off sub rosa by some of these companies.

But he took on the big builder, Lennar Corp. His so-called revelations sent the stock plunging. Minkow was tried and convicted of fraud. Also, he defrauded the church through such tricks as forging signatures on church checks, using church funds for his own activities, and other transgressions. He also fleeced some of the parishioners. He gets out June 6, 2019.

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JustWondering Sept. 2, 2017 @ 5:12 a.m.

I'm just wondering if he'll try and restart his movie project about his life? Once a narcissist and con man, always a narcissist and con man. Kudos to the management team at Lennar Corp for weathering the financial damage and blackmail by Minkow and exposing his the con job. My sympathies to all his victims at the San Diego church. In many cases their lives were and still are forever changed negatively.


Don Bauder Sept. 2, 2017 @ 7:28 a.m.

JustWondering: Supposedly, that movie will come out this year, according to Hollywood trade information. A guy who has a San Diego home, Bruce Caulk, has been trying to save that movie. The original take starred such names as Mark Hamill and James Caan. Minkow himself was raising money (including from parishioners) for the movie. He intended to play himself in middle age. (See my column of Feb. 25, 2015.)

I think a fascinating psychological study could be made of Minkow, making the point that once a con man, always a con man. The sociopathic personality may be there at birth, and not influenced greatly by the environment. A movie -- perhaps a documentary -- might be able to bring that out. It remains to be seen whether Caulk can rescue that footage. Best, Don Bauder


JustWondering Sept. 4, 2017 @ 7:23 a.m.

I hadn't heard or read that the film was or has been rescued. While I know Minkow was ripping off money to finance it, just wondering if he had ownership rights too? If so, AND, if it's ever released, it may (really wishful thinking) become a revenue source for Minkow's victims. I know, pennies on the dollar, if that. Or would be just another con job?


Don Bauder Sept. 4, 2017 @ 9:43 a.m.

JustWondering: Yours is an excellent question and I don't know the answer to it. Yes, Minkow used deceit to raise money to finance the film. That's one reason he got another five year sentence.

But I question whether Minkow has sole rights to the film. Bruce Caulk, the producer, appears to be going ahead with the movie and was doing so in 2015 when my column appeared. It doesn't appear to me that Minkow has absolute ownership rights. I personally have signed such contracts with movie producers, and I seem to remember that I signed over the rights for a certain period. Best, Don Bauder


ICare Sept. 6, 2017 @ 4:25 p.m.

Barry Minkow should never ever be allowed out of jail. My late brother, diagnosed schizophrenic, joined his "church" a "Jews for Jesus" (we are a Jewish family) place of worship in the late 1990's through to his death June 2008. Minkow took advantage of my mentally ill brother until my bro died in a car crash...and even at the funeral he was soliciting funds from our family. Thank goodness my brother is not here to see what a POC this con is and how all his friends were taken. Shame on him for all the beautiful heartfelt people he bilked out of millions. Any money made should be restitution to the good people who he screwed.


Don Bauder Sept. 6, 2017 @ 7:31 p.m.

ICare: Unfortunately, financial swindles don't lead to life sentences. I am sorry to hear about your late brother. Incidentally, Minkow was of the Jewish faith until he purportedly turned born-again Christian while in prison. He got out, was named minister of a Christian San Diego church, and continued his swindling career. However, as a fraud sleuth, which he did while heading the truth, he did put out some very good reports. Allegedly, he was bought out by the companies he fingered. But he bit off more than he could chew with Lennar, and then began swindling some of his parishioners. Best, Don Bauder


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