November 15, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation

Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation

Dean Jobb

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 1616205350

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million—upward of $400 million today—in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. This rip-roaring tale of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, over-the-top and under-the-radar deceit, illicit sex, and a brilliant and wildly charming con man on the town, then on the lam, is not only a rich and detailed account of a man and an era; it’s a fascinating look at the methods of swindlers throughout history.

As Model Ts rumbled down Michigan Avenue, gang-war shootings announced Al Capone’s rise to underworld domination. As bedecked partygoers thronged to the Drake Hotel’s opulent banquet rooms, corrupt politicians held court in thriving speakeasies and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the American dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity.
“A rollicking tale that is one part The Sting, one part The Great Gatsby, and one part The Devil in the White City.” —Karen Abbott, author of Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

“Intoxicating and impressively researched, Jobb’s immorality tale provides a sobering post-Madoff reminder that those who think everything is theirs for the taking are destined to be taken.” —The New York Times Book Review 
“Captivating . . . A story that seems to be as American as it can get, and it’s told well.” —The Christian Science Monitor
 “A masterpiece of narrative set-up and vivid language . . .  Jobb vividly . . . brings the Chicago of the 1880s and ‘90s to life.” —Chicago Tribune
“This cautionary tale of 1920s greed and excess reads like it could happen today.” —The Associated Press

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Historical Quarterly 29, no. 1 (Spring 1970): 66. 33 we had a good rice country W. H. Fuller, “Early Rice Farming on Grand Prairie,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 14, no. 1 (Spring 1955): 72. 33 prejudiced against it as a food G. T. Surface, “Rice in the United States,” Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 43, no. 7 (1911): 505. 33 many tillers of the soil “Koretz’s Rise to Wealth Reads Like Dime Novel,” Chicago Evening Post, December 13, 1923. 34 one of the first to realize Robert

Chicago Evening American, December 18, 1923. 102 Leo Kahnweiler, a diamond salesman Kahnweiler and Agatstein described the events that follow in Transcript of Record, December 10, 1924, pp. 2–3, 7–10, filed in Lewy Brothers Co. v. The Chicago Title and Trust Company. RG 276: Records of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit Court—Chicago, Records and Briefs, case no. 3523, NARA, Chicago. 103 a small fortune in jewels “Koretz Relatives to Give Up $300,000,” Chicago Daily News, December 13,

Leo’s law firm Victor Polachek, an executive of the Hearst newspaper chain Isaac Wilbraham, a retired railroad dining car steward Alfred Lundborg, a Chicago tailor The Investigators Robert Crowe, Cook County state’s attorney, a former judge, and a powerful Republican politician in Chicago John Sbarbaro, an assistant state’s attorney and part-time undertaker Stanley Klarkowski and William McSwiggin, assistant state’s attorneys Edwin Olson, U.S. district attorney, and assistant district

liar and a thief. “It is like a nightmare,” said John Irrmann, who had been friends with Leo for more than twenty-five years. “I can’t understand it at all. In fact, I don’t believe it yet.” The president of Emanuel Congregation, Leo’s synagogue, was also mystified. “It seems astounding,” Samuel Weisberg said, “that a man of such charming personality as Leo Koretz should have done the things the newspapers say he did.” For a day or so, Harry Rosenhaupt of Spokane—a Washington state senator and

dealt only with blue-chip Wall Street brokers. The rest—some $90,000—never left the apartment. “I suppose I took some chance,” he admitted later, but the need to have money close at hand for a quick escape outweighed the risk of losing his stash to a burglar. Robbery was the least of his worries. He was uncomfortably close to a section of Fifth Avenue where a lot of people had known him as Leo Koretz—and now knew him, thanks to the widespread press coverage, as one of the greatest swindlers of

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