After hustling NCAA coaches into a $50 million Ponzi scheme, J. David Salinas committed suicide in July rather than face the music
On the morning of July 15, a Coast Guard patrol discovered a despondent J. David Salinas – the legendary Texas youth basketball benefactor turned investment manager – drifting aimlessly on his jet ski in the bay off Galveston. Under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for peddling more than $50 million worth of phony bonds to a Who’s Who of collegiate basketball coaches – including Arizona’s Lute Olsen and Texas Tech’s Billy Gillispie – and wealthy families across the country, Salinas had decided to kill himself.
In January 2007, eLandia International’s $20 million acquisition of Latin Node Inc. looked like a great deal. The merger would help the publicly-traded, network solutions provider based in Miami, Florida quickly expand into Latin American markets where it had aspirations of becoming a major Telecom player.
But had eLandia listened more carefully, its executives might have heard a faint ticking sound. It was only after the deal closed that eLandia realized that they taken possession of a time bomb about to explode inside its U.S. corporate headquarters.
In the pantheon of American financial fraud, Lowell “Bob” Hancher will probably not join Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff as men whose names are synonymous with criminal avarice. Hancher’s alleged frauds only managed to siphon off a few million dollars from unsuspecting companies and investors over the past few years.
But the saga of Bob Hancher, a 57-year-old Indiana businessman and former co-owner of Indy and NASCAR racing teams, highlights just how vulnerable professional investors and corporations continue to be to fraud from purportedly respected members of the business community. And how important it is to conduct thorough due diligence prior to every deal.