THE STING MAN: Inside Abscam by Robert W. Greene
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THE STING MAN: Inside Abscam

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fast-moving account of the career of Mel Weinberg, master con artist turned FBI informant and pivot man for the Abscam investigation. Like most swindlers, Bronx-born Weinberg started out small-time (smashing windows at night to enhance his family's glass business), but soon graduated to big-league financial scams, specializing in the advance-fee swindle--taking ""processing"" fees for loan applications to a bogus firm with a fancy name (""Swiss Bank Associates"" and ""London Investors"" were two of his favorites). The loans, of course, never came through. Finally bagged by the feds in 1977, Weinberg cooperated with the FBI in a series of sting operations that began as a general foray into white-collar crime and ended as a chilling, videotaped lesson in government corruption. Working from extensive interviews with Weinberg, Newsday's Greene offers an insider's day-by-day view of the Ultimate Scam. Weinberg's FBI-staffed ""Abdul Enterprises"" was ready for anything--titanium mines, Atlantic City casinos, loans to the mob--and politicians fell all over themselves to peddle influence: Camden's Mayor Angelo Errichetti (""I'll give you Atlantic City. Without me, you do nothing""); South Carolina Congressman John Jenrette (""I got larceny in my blood""); Pennsylvania Congressmen Ozzie Myers (""Money talks in this business and bullshit walks""), and Raymond Lederer (""I'm no Boy Scout""). Greene suggests that the net could easily have been cast wider, had not the Justice Department (for reasons unspecified) chosen to ""target"" only certain of the politicians offered for sale by would-be bagmen. Was it all a gigantic exercise in illegal entrapment, as defense attorneys later--unsuccessfully--claimed? Greene largely sidesteps this still-debated question, and the legal niceties don't matter to Weinberg: ""The tapes are the record. Nobody can change that. . . . The courts can find all the technical shit they want, but it don't affect the bottom line."" Lightweight, but lively.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1981
Publisher: Dutton