In his heyday, Eddie Antar was the darling of Wall Street. Until our frauds imploded, our manufactured financial statements produced a constant fiction of Crazy Eddie's superior financial success and Eddie's Antar's supposed business acumen. We were sought after by Wall Street investment bankers hungry to feed Crazy Eddie with capital to expand its business and let their investors get in on a piece of the action. We had four public offerings. We sold investors on hope as the family cashed out almost $100 million in stock.
A consumer's hero
Eddie Antar was legend in his time as he a became a folk hero to consumers by thumbing his nose at "fair trade" laws that stifled competition. However, it was our intention to bait and switch our customers to more profitable merchandise. In the early days before the company went public, if we could not switch a customer who paid cash, we simply pocketed the sales tax.
Upcoming Eddie Antar and Sam E. Antar interview on CNBC Business Nation by Herb Greenberg on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM (ET)
Herb Greenberg brought Eddie and me together after almost twenty years for a joint interview to be aired on CNBC. It was a brutal confrontation.
When I walked into the interview room, I was stunned by Eddie Antar's appearance. This once vibrant and healthy man and powerful leader looked quite old for his age (he is 59 years old) and looked physically weak and emotionally drained. I had not seen my cousin Eddie since the criminal trial in the summer of 1993 and had not spoken to him since 1989. I had heard from others that he is in weak health.
Howard Sirota, who was the Chairman of the class action litigation on behalf of defrauded shareholders, once said in a Court TV Masterminds episode, that "Eddie was a larger than life Brooklyn 'Fonz.'"
To me and many others, he was our great leader. We drank his Kool-Aid.
Herb Greenberg interviews Eddie Antar for his Wall Street Journal column
On Saturday, Herb Greenberg's column in Wall Street Journal (subscription required) entitled, "Crazy Eddie's Lesson for Alexander: Running From Prosecution Is 'Insane'", (reprinted in MarketWatch), quotes some revealing thoughts and advice from Eddie Antar:
…with a sense of wistful irony, a man who once claims to have been mistaken for DiNiro, Pesche or even Brando, adds, "Nobody wants to have anything to do with me."
Yes, the younger and more vibrant Eddie Antar was at times mistaken for DiNiro and Brando and today he looks weak and seriously ill. I used to drink his Kool-Aid.
The CNBC interview got very heated
During the interview, Eddie Antar would try to order me around just like the old days and attempt to control the topic of discussion. I responded to him:
Don't try to control the topic of conversation. You're not a big (expletive) anymore, Eddie. You're a two bit thug just like I am. So stop playing games.
Eddie brought a crumpled set of scribbled notes to our CNBC interview and I scolded him for writing a rehearsed script.
At times, our exchanges got so heated, that he threatened to walk out the door.
I scolded him again telling him:
Let the cameras roll as you walk out the door.
I was not going to take orders from Eddie Antar. I was not going to drink his Kool-Aid.
Eddie and I went our separate ways many years ago. He chose to leave his family behind and flee American justice. I chose to stay and fight my battles. During a heated exchange with Eddie, as he looked away and I stared right at him, I stated:
I stayed here and took the heat. You ran. You ran like a coward.
He did not want to look at me "eye to eye."
I scolded him again and told him to, "face me."
The adrenaline ran high all around the room. It seemed that the room temperature was close to the boiling point.
Eddie Antar comes out swinging in the CNBC interview and in Herb Greenberg's expanded MarketWatch.com column
Herb Greenberg writes (in the expanded version of his column on MarketWatch.com):
Eddie felt there were things Sam hasn't confessed - things even the government doesn't know. Sam, who denies the allegations, retorts: "Then why didn't he bring it up at trial?
I guess that Eddie Antar still harbors a deep resentment about getting caught. He clearly resents the fact that I testified against him. He has to make up new lies. At the criminal and civil trial trials, Eddie Antar, his father, his brothers, and his brother-in-law attempted to lay the blame for the Crazy Eddie fraud on me. It was as if they were claiming that they made $100 million by accident. I lost about $8,000 selling my Crazy Eddie stock.
Eddie Antar, his father, his brothers, his brother-in-law, and both ex-wives had stashed millions of dollars in secret bank accounts overseas. The government found millions of dollars hidden by Eddie Antar in safe deposit boxes. While, I was paid off the books like many other employees during the early years, I had no secret foreign bank accounts nor funds hidden in safe deposit boxes. I gave the government a full accounting of my monies and they investigated me thoroughly.
However, the government still believes that Eddie Antar and others in his immediate family have not repatriated all of their ill gotten gains. For example, Eddie Antar gave $6 million to a hospital in Israel and they believe that he received a $5 million kickback in cash. I questioned Eddie about his donation during our joint interview on CNBC. He claims to have given back all of his money. However, listen carefully to his evasive answer on CNBC.
For additional information, I recommend that people read Judge Harold A. Ackerman's thorough Opinion in the Securities and Exchange Commission civil case. Also read the Statement by Stephen M. Cutler to the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises of the Committee on Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 26, 2003.
I guess that the delusional Eddie Antar still believes that people drink his Kool-Aid.
Eddie Antar reflects on his past in Herb Greenberg's Wall Street Journal column
Reflecting on his plight as a fugitive, Eddie Antar tells Herb Greenberg in his column:
It's so disturbing I don't even like to think about it. I'm just glad I'm back with my family.
Herb Greenberg continues:
Mr. Antar says he left "the people I love" behind when he was using false passports to hopscotch through multiple countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Switzerland and Israel. The latter, coincidently, is where Mr. Alexander, a permanent resident of the U.S., is a citizen.
What Eddie Antar did not say is that his second wife, Deborah Erlich Antar, now living apart from him, was apparently not left behind and made frequent trips overseas while he was on the run. Deborah Ehrlich Antar (Eddie's second wife) was identified as the signatory or as having power of attorney on at least three overseas accounts Eddie Antar controlled while he was on the run. (Source: US Government Documents).
Eddie divorced his first wife, Debbie (called by many people Debbie # 1) in order to marry his second wife named Deborah (called Debbie # 2). He hated Debbie # 1 for not bearing him any sons. When Eddie Antar ran away, he left behind his daughters and a squabbling family deeply divided over his divorce of Debbie # 1 and other issues.
The Antar family was divided into two camps – those that supported Eddie and those that supported his father who backed Debbie # 1. In April 1987, Debbie # 1 sued Eddie Antar and her attorney for fraud seeking to overturn her divorce settlement. In a fit of rage, while our frauds were still going on, Eddie purged his father, brothers, and others allied with them and his ex-wife.
He used to call his father an "old goat." He frequently used to call his brother-in-law Ben Kuszer (convicted of securities fraud with Eddie's father and his brother Allen in the Securities and Exchange Commission Civil Case) a "mouse." He had harsher words for his brothers, Mitchell and Allen Antar who conspired with us to commit our crimes.
Before I decided to throw in the towel with the United States government, Eddie Antar had told me:
Sammy, you are on you own. It’s every man for himself.
Previously, I had perjured myself in depositions with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He apparently felt that my testimony about him was locked in and he had no further use for me.
In addition, Eddie Antar had found out that his own father and brothers had sent two witnesses to the Securities and Exchange to set us up to take the fall and to cover up their crimes.
Herb Greenberg writes:
Bring up the old days at Crazy Eddie and he cracks a wry smile. "People still stop me and tell me they bought their first stereo from me," he says.
I wonder if any of those people knew how we baited them with our lies and switched them to highly profitable house brand merchandise and sold them needless extended warranties at inflated costs. I wonder if any other those people knew that at times we sold them repackaged merchandise as if such items were brand new.
In his column, Herb Greenberg asked Eddie Antar a question:
Wasn't it a criminal enterprise? "
Eddie Antar's response:
You can't have a company that runs for 22 years that was a fraud. Sales were real. You can't make up deposits in the bank."
At crucial times to Eddie and Antar and his father Sam M. Antar, Crazy Eddie’s sales were made up and not real. In 1986, we channeled about $2 million from funds previously skimmed as a private company (before we went public) and put the money back into the company to increase sales. A few days later, Eddie Antar and his father cashed out over $30 million in stock.
We sold merchandise to trans-shippers at a little bit above cost and at times even below cost to inflate our store level sales performance. Eddie Antar, his brothers, and brother-in-law laughed all the way to the bank as they continued to sell stock at inflated stock prices.
Crazy Eddie was an empire built on deceit. The company was rotten at its core. Eddie Antar, his father, brothers, brother-in-law, me and others formed the nucleus of this massive criminal enterprise.
There are many innocent employees and relatives (who worked for the company) that have defended Eddie Antar. These innocent employees and relatives benefited from Crazy Eddie by having well paid jobs. However, I am quite sure that if Crazy Eddie had never existed, those same people would have found gainful employment at a legitimately run company, elsewhere.
Many people came to work for Crazy Eddie believing that we were a great company as they hoped for a better life. Instead, almost three thousand people lost their jobs.
The carnage of our crimes was paid for by innocent investors, vendors, and many others. Countless victims of our crimes are still suffering today.
Herb Greenberg writes:
Today, Mr. Antar says he misses the "people aspect" of the business. "I had a great time for a long time," he says. "People still use Crazy Eddie as the gold standard of what a real deal is. They say, 'I want a Crazy Eddie type deal.' "
In our day, we considered the humanity of others as weaknesses to be exploited in our efforts to commit our crimes. We simply gave investors, creditors, and many consumers a raw deal.
Herb Greenberg writes:
Mr. Antar's advice to others: "All the money in the world is not worth a day in prison -- ain't worth one day." If he hadn't broken the law, he says, "I'd be a Best Buy today, or I would have been sought to be bought out by many companies. I'd be a billionaire today. I had around $100 million that [the government] took from me. That was cash in the bank. It was everything I had. Can you imagine what that would be worth today? I blew it big time.
We will never know what Crazy Eddie could have achieved had we played by the rules. We can only know about the carnage we left behind by our criminal acts.
Herb Greenberg's writes:
Looking back Mr. Antar says, "I'm not denying I deserved the punishment." He committed the crimes, he says, because of greed and because "I thought I was smarter" than everybody else.I say that we were not just greedy but that our criminal actions were vile, malicious, and evil. We were never concerned about the harm we were inflicting on others. We were just plain rotten human beings. It was not just greed that was a factor in our crimes. It was our callous disregard for the welfare of other human beings.
I have no excuses and I can offer no rationalization for my criminal conduct. My crimes were cruel, brutal, and ugly. Any apology offered by Eddie Antar or me does not undo our unforgivable crimes.
As I said in a separate interview with Herb Greenberg (to be aired on CNBC Wednesday night):
What I did was pure evil. I am going to probably fry in hell for many years before I get upstairs.
We were nothing but cold hearted and soulless criminals. We were two bit thugs.
Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO & convicted felon)
Other blogs and media covering the interview:
Herb Greenberg's Market Blog: Crazy Eddie Interview, Upcoming CNBC Piece
AOL Money and Finance: Former Crazy Eddie fraud CEO and CFO to square off on CNBC by Zac Bissonnette
NY Post: Lost & Found Crazy Eddie: Confronts Dirty 'Thug' in Scandal by Adam Buckman
Gary Weiss Blog: The Fraud was INSANE!
The Fraudfiles Blog: Fascinating look into the mind of a white collar criminal by Tracy Coenen