Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Martin Frankel: Sex, Greed and $200 Million Fraud

Money Buys Love

In one of his many neurotic phone calls to Father Jacobs, Marty told him, "Without money, there is no freedom. If I was living in my mother's house and I was a garbage man, do you think I would be attractive to most women? Money buys love."

For a very large part of his adult life, the only women in Marty's life were his mother and his sister. It wasn't until 1986 when he went to work for John Schulte that he began a sexual relationship with a woman. In this case it was Sonia Schulte and the relationship lasted, in one form or another,  until Marty was caught.

Marty and Sonia had become convinced that John Schulte was molesting his two daughters. Marty helped Sonia get her husband into court on that matter and eventually to hide herself and children from Schulte. Marty was afraid of Schulte's reprisals and hired security expert David Rosse (the man who Marty impersonated in his Vatican deal) to protect him. Rosse told him the only way he could get away from Schulte was to get out of town as far away from Toledo as possible.

Marty found a marvelous property to lease in Greenwich, Connecticut. 889 Lake Avenue was in one of the most desirable parts of that very well-to-do suburb. Into this mansion, Marty moved Sonia and her daughters and two of his employees, Beng Tan and Tee Sow. It was the spring of 1993.

Frankel home at 889 Lake Avenue
Frankel home at 889 Lake Avenue

Immediately, the easily frightened and naturally reclusive Marty had a high fence installed around the entire 3-acre property, which did not endear him to his neighbors. Rumors abounded about this odd new neighbor and his secretive behavior. What could he be hiding and who was he really?

As Marty's embezzled wealth grew enormously with money from the insurance company reserves, so did his ego inflate proportionately. He began to surround himself with beautiful young women, some of which were his sexual partners, others of which were just devoted followers. Vera Mironova, his housekeeper, said to the Wall St. Journal, "Everybody loved him and he cared for them. Care he did. Mr. Frankel paid for posh apartments in New York City, homes in suburban Westchester County, five-figure shopping sprees at Neiman-Marcus and Saks, cars and drivers, and first-class trips to Europe." Marty had purchased a lot of love. He had even leased another mansion on the same street to house his expanding household.

Martin Frankel in 1995
Martin Frankel in 1995

A dark side of Marty started to emerge and he became obsessed with sadomasochistic and group sex. Tensions became unbearable in Marty's relationship with Sonia. She and her daughters moved out of what had become a very unwholesome household to raise children. Neighbors were convinced that he was running a brothel with all of the young women living there, coming and going at all hours.

In 1996, a young woman named Frances Burge responded to Marty's ad in the newspaper. She told her mother that he told her to strip and then told her that he didn't want to have sex with her because she was overweight.

Frances Burge's room at the time of her suicide
Frances Burge's room at the time of her
suicide

She stayed on in the household, but suffered from depression. In the summer of 1997, she was found hanged on the deck of one of the mansions. The death was ruled a suicide.

If anything, Marty's eccentric life style became increasingly lavish and bizarre as his wealth increased. But, in May of 1999, Marty started to "flip out" and there were signs that the Xanadu that he had created was in trouble.

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