Go bankrupt once, shame on you. Go bankrupt two, three, four times, like Donald Trump has, and chances are the “bust out” is just another way of doing profitable business.
That’s what a clutch of top bankers at Deutsche Bank must have convinced themselves, that fronted hundreds of millions of dollars for Trump developments was bound to pay off before, after or as part of the process of any fifth Trump failure. They are reported to be explaining themselves and their investments in Trump to investigators from the office of the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
Here’s one generic explanation, the “front end” of the scam always looks so good, it’s easy to be deceived that everyone will make money from it.
Take for example, Boomtown Entertainment LLC., a company created by a one-time Mafia leg-breaker from New York turned “developer” in Arizona to set up and run a chain of Tony Keith restaurants and dance halls across America. Its first restaurant, in a Phoenix suburb was doing so well an officer of Boomtown tried to steal the idea and clone it for a string of similarly down-home eateries named for the band Rascal Flatts.
The ex-Mafia guy sued, stopped his renegade associate dead in his tracks and wound up doing the restaurant deal with Rascal Flatts himself. Secretly.
Frank Capri had to keep his role in the Rascal Flatts restaurants a secret because by then the Toby Keith chain was going bust and there was a pattern to the failures that included misappropriated front money, unpaid contractors, unpaid taxes and in the end, a string of restaurants that quickly closed or never opened. Much of the money, it was alleged, had been pocketed by Capri.
The Rascal Flatts scheme was an almost perfect repetition of the Toby Keith fiasco.
That the same guy could pull off two sets of national-scale swindles, involving hundreds of thousands of stolen dollars in dozens of different cities and states shows you he’s a pretty smart con-man. That Frank Capri, born Frank Gioia Jr., could do all of this while a part of the federal Witness Protection Program shows he’s a lot smarter than the federal employees allegedly supervising him.
The investigative reporter who uncovered all of this fascinating material is our guest today, Robert Anglen of the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. He told us about his series of reports on the Toby Keith restaurant chain story in late 2017. Who knew? Who could believe there would be a sequel?
Robert Anglen investigates consumer issues for The Arizona Republic, where he has worked since 2003. From 2011-2015, Anglen worked with Call 12 for Action at 12 News as part of a joint broadcast and publishing project. He co-led the team through some of its most successful years. In 2014, Call 12 for Action recovered more than $2 million for consumers, something no television station in the country had achieved. His award-winning investigations have exposed fraud, crime and corruption. He has written about abuses within the probate court system, questionable charities tied to a worldwide televangelism ministry and was named reporter-of-the year in 2005 by the Arizona Press Club for stories linking Taser stun guns to deaths across the country. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was only blocks away from the World Trade Center collapse and wrote first-person accounts from Ground Zero. Born in Los Angeles, he has worked as a skip tracer, bill collector, cab driver and process server.