Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kenneth Wayne McLeod

The unraveling

Throughout it all, McLeod was living the high life. Or at least, the sort of high life a regular Joe dreams about. He didn't go to expensive, exotic far-flung places. He partied at home. He rented limos, something most of the legitimately rich would see as arriviste. He spent his money on his house, his boat, and those Super Bowl box seats.

SEC accountant Tonya Tullis reported that between 2005 and 2010 McLeod had spent over $1 million on what he deemed to be promotional expenses—expenses including the Super Bowl and other sporting events, as well as charter buses and limousine services. He spent about $200,000 a year on these lavish parties.

Kenneth Wayne McLeod, younger
Kenneth Wayne McLeod, younger

At the same time, McLeod's warped sense of generosity led him to become a substantial donor to some worthwhile causes. He gave regularly to the Survivors Benefit Fund and the First Responders Fund, both of which benefited the families of fallen officers.

And McLeod would spend his off hours rubbing shoulders with his victims, brazenly attending DEA golf tournaments and similar events. For years, he hid in plain sight.

Though the SEC could account for 130 investors, it appeared that there were up to 260 people ensnared in the overall scheme. But it was just one investor's act, Coront's phoned-in tip, that started the investigation in May 2010.

Bloomberg News reported that Cameron Funkhouser, Executive Vice President of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's Office of Fraud Detection and Market Intelligence took notice and pushed for his staff to investigate. He told Bloomberg News: "I wish I could say it was brilliant, but it was brilliant in its simplicity." Funkhouser told Bloomberg news that the red flag was a news clip of McLeod's infamous Super Bowl trips.

By June 10, 2010 the SEC had opened an investigation. By June 15, McLeod had been interviewed, and in his second interview he admitted the bond fund was a fraud.

On June 18, he wrote the letter to his investors announcing the termination of a fund that had never legitimately existed. "After more than 20 years, I have deemed it necessary to terminate the FEBG fund effective immediately...While this decision may cause you some temporary hardship, it is not my intention and I'm truly sorry from the bottom of my heart."

It was the same letter that Garner received, hoping for forgiveness.

Perhaps, in attempt to redeem himself as something other than a con man, he ended the letter: "I have spent the vast majority of my adult life helping tens of thousands of federal employee's become better prepared for their financial future and I am proud of that legacy."

By June 22, he was dead.

A despondent McLeod apparently decided that it was better never to face the people whose lives he had ruined. He drove to Mandarin Park in Jacksonville, locked himself in his black Hummer behind its dark tinted windows and shot himself in the head.

A few days after his death, the government froze and seized his assets. Later, McLeod's widow acceded to a permanent injunction over the estate. His remaining assets, as well as his life insurance benefit, would be divided amongst his hundreds of victims. Though it appears that some of McLeod's clients had managed to get their money back, it remains unclear whether the majority of the victims will ever see their life savings again.

 

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