Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hey, Big Spender

Front-page news. Such a quaint term. And yet I scanned the front page of the paper edition of the Tribune last week and the headline "Suburban dad -- and embezzler" caught my eye. Suburban dad, that's me. Embezzler, no. Good headline, though. Reels you right in.

The article by Jason Grotto of the newspaper's staff is about one John Orecchio, a local investment banker who has been convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to nine years and change. "[He] spent part of this life as a well-respected banker, husband and devoted father of three young children living in a two-story house with white pillars on a tree-lined Arlington Heights street," the article begins.

You know the subtext: nothing bad should ever happen on a tree-lined street whose houses have white pillars. Shocking crime, dead ahead!

Indeed: "The rest of the time, court records show, he posed as a high-rolling millionaire who drove a Bentley, collected thoroughbred racehorses and traveled on private jets to Las Vegas and tropical islands with his young fiancée, a former dancer whom he met during frequent visits to a Detroit strip club," writes Grotto.

At least he wasn't one of these loonies-on-a-long-fuse who lives an undistinguished middle-class life until one day without warning he massacres his family with a blunt instrument and sets his house on fire (and either kills himself or unhelpfully forgets to). Banker Orecchio merely stole about $24 million from six union pension funds to fuel the expensive side of his double life.

He pleaded guilty, and so didn't have a jury trial, but if I'd sat in judgment of this fellow, I'd have voted to convict for lack of imagination as much as his crooked quest for Mammon. A Bentley? Thoroughbreds? Vegas and "tropical islands"? A stripper "fiancée," for crying out loud? I'll bet anyone reading this could take a pencil and paper and come up with a dozen much more interesting things on which to spend $24 million worth of lucre.

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At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's Francis X. Vitale, for instance - my own favourite embezzler - who stole $12.4 dollars from his employer to indulge his passion for antique clocks: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/01/nyregion/in-a-passion-for-antique-clocks-executive-embezzled-12-million.html
http://www.nytimes.com/1998/01/16/nyregion/2-1-2-years-for-embezzler-who-loves-clocks.html?pagewanted=1 JVS


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