I think I have written before about crime – including money laundering – often being a family business. There are many advantages: for instance, there is absolute loyalty (twice over: blood and business), and there is nothing suspicious about the family getting together frequently (ostensibly for family gatherings, but also to discuss work), which can foil surveillance and infiltration efforts. It could also be argued that – in the same way as sports champions breed more sports champions, and children of lawyers often go into the law – the offspring of criminals are more likely to go into their parents’ line of business. They are exposed to the work from an early age, they make all the right (wrong?) connections, and – although you’d have to be careful making this point too strongly – they will share the same moral compass as their parents, which might be slightly skewed from the straight and narrow. And now a fraudster has himself pleaded his criminal background as mitigation for his actions.
Jason Galanis was born into a wealthy family, led by a man whose main activity was fraud. White collar crime, of course, pays well: the family lived in a mega-mansion in Connecticut, with a tennis court, an indoor swimming pool and a lake, and for recreation they had a ranch in Utah, a Rolls Royce, an eighty-foot yacht and a Lear jet. But when Jason was only thirteen, John – daddy – was charged with bilking JP Morgan Chase & Co out of millions of dollars. Even that didn’t curb the lifestyle: for his sixteenth birthday, Jason was given a US$100,000 Ferrari. But after numerous other allegations and relentless investigations, it all fell apart: in 1988 John was found guilty of masterminding a tax-shelter scheme that didn’t really exist and thereby cheating 1,400 people including Eddie Murphy and Sammy Davis Jr., and sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Poor Jason. The impact has been terrible, according to his defence. Yes, his defence. Jason – now pushing fifty himself – is currently serving eleven years for running a Ponzi scheme. I wonder where he learned how to do that? At the end of July 2017, he appeared before a judge in Manhattan to ask that his sentence not be extended for a separate $60 million fraud against one of the poorest American Indian tribes. And why should he be granted this leniency, in his view? Because when his father went to prison, Jason was left feeling “embarrassed and abandoned” by a man whose “wild extravagance” had led to chaos at home and given little Jason “a sense that he didn’t fit in with his private school peers”, exposing him to “his friends’ parents’ disdain”. Interestingly, Jason didn’t orchestrate his Ponzi scheme alone: also serving time for it – six years each – are his father John and his younger brother Derek. A third brother, Jared, pleaded guilty and awaits sentence. A family business indeed.