Steven Hoffenberg, who was found dead in his Connecticut apartment at age 77, was once one of New York’s richest men before being exposed as a Ponzi scammer and sent to prison for almost two decades.
Through his company Towers Financial, Hoffenberg stole $460 million from 200,000 investors to finance a lavish lifestyle of private jets, high-priced services, and palatial homes in New York and Florida.
During his heyday, Hoffenberg briefly owned New York Post was a close friend of Donald Trump in 1993 and once rented an entire floor in Trump Tower.
The scheme collapsed when he was arrested in 1994 and charged with “one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history”, ten years before Bernie Madoff’s crimes were solved.
Later, the disgraced businessman claimed that his protégé, Jeffrey Epstein, organized the scam.
Hoffenberg served 18 years in federal prison, and Epstein was never charged for his role.
After being released from prison, he filed a lawsuit against Epstein in 2016, alleging that the late pedophile was the “architect” of the scheme.
He lived alone in Derby, Connecticut and was found dead in his home after police were asked to conduct a welfare check.
The initial autopsy showed no signs of injury, and the cause of death has yet to be made public. It is unclear when Hoffenberg died, but his body was in a state of advanced decay and police were waiting for dental records to make an official identification.
Who was Steven Hoffenberg?
Born in Brooklyn in 1945 to Jewish parents, Hoffenberg founded the Towers Financial Corporation in the early 1970s after dropping out of college.
The company started out as a debt collection agency, buying up outstanding medical bills and forcing debtors to pay what they could.
Towers Financial grew rapidly, acquiring several insurance companies through which Hoffenberg siphoned off the finds.
Hoffenberg was introduced to Epstein in 1987 by British arms dealer Douglas Hubert Leese.
The couple were regular companions between 1987 and 1993, when prosecutors later revealed that Towers had begun to scam investors.
Court documents showed that he paid Epstein $25,000 a month during this period, and in 1988 gave him a $2 million loan that was never repaid.
Hoffenberg later said that thanks to this loan, Epstein began to accumulate wealth, which he used to protect himself from public and legal scrutiny during decades of sexual abuse and trafficking in young girls.
In an interview with Washington Post in 2019, a senior businessman later said that Epstein was “the architect of the scam”.
“I thought Jeffrey was the best businessman on two legs,” Hoffenberg said. Mail.
“Talent, charisma, genius, criminal genius. We had a thing that could bring a lot of money. We called it Ponzi.”
The couple made an ill-fated attempt to take over the distressed Pan Am airline.
When the deal fell through, Towers came to the attention of financial regulators and he was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The unflappable couple continued to acquire insurance companies and steal money from investors, many of whom were widows, retirees and the disabled.
When Illinois and New York prosecutors eventually indicted Hoffenberg in 1993, he agreed to serve as a government witness and charged Epstein with the schemes.
However, despite pointing the finger at Epstein, his name mysteriously disappeared from the file later that year.
Reporting on his conviction and sentencing in 1995, New York Times described Hoffenberg as “one of the most brash figures on the New York business scene”.
“From the very beginning, Mr. Hoffenberg’s boasting of wealth seemed dubious. time noted.
Hoffenberg is best known for briefly owning New York Post during the turbulent period for the newspaper in the early 1990s.
His ownership came about after Rupert Murdoch was forced to sell a tabloid newspaper when he bought the Fox television network due to media cross-ownership laws.
Attempts by the new owner, Petr Kalikov, to make a profit by changing Mail from noon until morning, the paper failed, leading to missed publications and mass layoffs.
Hoffenberg stepped in to buy the paper when it was on the brink of bankruptcy in late 1992.
His brief tenure as owner came to an end three months later when he was forced to leave due to a staff revolt.
Mr. Murdoch bought the paper the same year and has owned it ever since.
Hoffenberg once rented an entire floor of Trump Tower and later said of the former president that “Donald’s crowd was my crowd.”
How did he die?
Dailymail.com reported that one of Epstein’s abuse victims, Maria Farmer, contacted the police after becoming concerned about Hoffenberg.
The Derby Police Department said they found a dead man at Mount Pleasant Street on Tuesday at 8:00 pm.
It is unclear how long he was dead in the apartment, but police were unable to visually identify Hoffenberg.
Hoffenberg was an avid social media user, tweeting over 35,000 times about Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew and politics.
His Twitter account shows that he posted eight messages on July 27 before going silent.
said Ms. Farmer. Dailymail.com that she was concerned as Hoffenberg was in poor health after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
“Hoff was one of my dearest friends on earth, more like a father than my own father ever was to me,” Ms Farmer told Dailymail.com.
“He lived in kindness, always giving what little he had, never asking for anything.
“This man was an incredible and dear friend to Epstein survivors… just like himself.”
Maria Farmer was one of Epstein’s first victims to go public with allegations of sexual assault.
Her sister, Annie Farmer, was one of four women who testified at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking trial last December.