How to Be a Broker and Make Out Like a Bandit

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Talk about taking the money and running. When firefighters showed up at Martin Frankel’s maximum-security Connecticut mansion on May 5, they found a blazing file cabinet and two fireplaces stuffed with burning documents –- and no Frankel. The unlicensed broker had lit out of town with anywhere from $218 million to $915 million in his clients’ money, most of it from small insurance firms from Oklahoma to Arkansas. Short-Term Capital Management? Try insurance fraud –- and now the New York Daily News reports that six weeks later, authorities have finally come to the same conclusion and issued a warrant Tuesday for Frankel’s arrest.

The signs were hard to miss. According to FBI papers, Frankel, 44, had turned his $3 million home in tony Greenwich into a warren of offices with electronic locks and nearly 100 computers, plus wide-screen televisions tuned to financial news channels. And like any true "Seven Habits" disciple, Frankel made lists of things to do, one of which was "launder money." Also seized were personalized astrological charts answering such questions as: "Will I go to prison?" "Should I leave?" and "Will I be safe?" So far, so good. In addition to the insurance money, Frankel may also have pocketed $1.98 billion from the St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, allegedly established by him in the British Virgin Islands last August. Six weeks after his disappearance, authorities can only hope Frankel neglected to ask the stars about one last thing: extradition treaties.