Favorite Media Interviews and Mentions
Audio Bonus: The Crazy Eddie heist that went too well
People came to Crazy Eddie’s discount electronics stores because of their famously kooky commercials—but did you know it was, from start-to-finish, a massive financial crime?
In a fascinating interview on Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast, the company’s former CFO Sam Antar explains how it all went down. The real heist here wasn’t the run-of-the-mill insurance and tax fraud taking place, but the decision to take the firm public—making off with investor money in return for what was a doomed business without its criminal element. The real perfection of this tale is that the family behind the firm decided to take the company private again—only to be outbid by a rival purchaser, exposing the whole scheme.
After hearing that another Antar was in trouble, I called former Crazy Eddie executive Sam E. Antar to see what he could tell me about his cousin Sam A.
“The kid is a degenerate gambler,” Sam E. snarled.
It must be noted here that Sam E. comes with plenty of his own baggage. He was the CFO of Crazy Eddie and pleaded guilty to three felonies. But he cooperated with the government and testified against Eddie and other relatives. He has tried to make amends by lecturing students and government investigators on how to spot corporate crime. Last year he sold the rights to his story to a Hollywood production company that’s making a movie about the Crazy Eddie saga.
Sam E. Antar has a lively Twitter feed, and in it a few days ago he described both Sam A. and his father Allen Antar as “degenerate gamblers.” Twisting the knife, he compared Allen to O.J. Simpson because he said Allen was acquitted of criminal charges in the Crazy Eddie matter but found liable in a civil case.
Crazy Eddie’s nephew Sam A. Antar looks like he’s headed back to prison. I testified against his father Allen who was known as the “Fredo” of the Antar family. Both father and son are degenerate gamblers.
Mr. Byrne is the longtime public face and largest shareholder of a company that is facing many problems. Overstock, a well-known online seller of rugs, sofas and other goods, has lost roughly 31% of its stock-market value over the past year and posted a string of money-losing quarters. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating part of its crypto business.
Mr. Byrne declined to comment Thursday afternoon beyond his letter. He said in his letter he planned on “disappearing for some time.”
Sam Antar, a longtime critic of Overstock and Mr. Byrne, said he thinks Mr. Byrne’s resignation is due to the company’s performance, rather than his personal life.
“This is just a distraction,” Mr. Antar said. Overstock, he noted, has an accumulated deficit of more than $500 million, losses he blamed on Mr. Byrne’s management. “The guy’s an overrated loser.”
Mr. Antar was convicted of securities fraud while chief financial officer in the 1980s at the New York company Crazy Eddie. After serving time under house arrest, he became a white-collar fraud expert.
Sam Antar, the former CFO of New York’s Crazy Eddie, on how the electronics retailer committed its legendary crimes, and the state of white-collar crime today.
EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment One has set Jon Turteltaub to direct Insane, a film based on “Crazy” Eddie Antar, the late consumer electronics king who wound up serving six years in prison for perpetrating one of the greatest securities frauds in history. eOne will finance the project. 21 scribe Peter Steinfeld wrote the script. The project was set by eOne late last year, with an exclusive rights deal has been made with Crazy Eddie’s cousin and co-conspirator Sam E. Antar. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Peter Steinfeld, DeShawn Schneider, Mandy Stein will produce with Sam E. Antar serving as an Associate Producer.
Turteltaub’s credits include most recently the sleeper hit The Meg, Last Vegas, National Treasure, Phenomenon, While You Were Sleeping and Cool Runnings.
If you lived in NYC a few decades ago, you probably have heard of Crazy Eddie, an electronics retailer that was famous for its outlandish ads on TV. What most people didn’t know until after it went public, is that the company was built on financial fraud. In this week’s episode of the Odd Lots podcast, we speak with its former CFO Sam Antar about the company’s shenanigans, and how it all came undone.
Now, risky is running a business that evades taxes. Taking that business public is on another level. It invites greater scrutiny from authorities, and once outsiders would own the company, the Antars would have less control. I asked if the Antars discussed these risks that fateful night in 1979 and Sam explained why they did not:
We’d been a criminal enterprise since 1969, and I’d been part of that criminal enterprise since 1971. In 1979, I had no reason to think that after years of success, I was not going to succeed. Of course I was going to succeed. I am going to take steps and build on prior successes. It gave me the self-confidence to commit crime. Incrementally it gets bigger and bigger. It helped to get to higher and bigger levels.