Steven Hoffenberg, a convicted Ponzi schemer and mentor to Jeffrey Epstein, was the person discovered dead in a Connecticut apartment earlier this week, according to medical examiners’ findings on Friday.
Hoffenberg, 77, is thought to have passed away at least seven days before his body was discovered by police in Derby on Tuesday after they were asked to check on him, according to authorities. The decomposition of his body required him to be identified through dental records, according to the police.
Results of the toxicology tests will determine his cause of death. According to officials, an autopsy revealed no evidence of trauma, and there were no signs of a struggle or a forced entry at the apartment.
In the late 1980s, when authorities claim the Ponzi scheme started, Epstein, the disgraced financier who committed suicide in a New York jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on accusations he sexually assaulted dozens of girls, worked for Hoffenberg’s bill collection business, Towers Financial Corp.
Hoffenberg, who once tried to purchase the New York Post, was ultimately caught up in one of the biggest frauds in the nation. He pleaded guilty to defrauding thousands of investors of $460 million and was given a 20-year prison term in 1997. He asserted that Epstein, who was never charged, was actually the scheme’s creator.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reports that in 2013, he was released from federal custody. It was unclear how he ended up residing in a compact apartment in a multifamily house in Derby, which is about 12 miles (19 kilometres) northeast of Bridgeport.
Epstein and Hoffenberg had a “special relationship,” according to Gary Baise, a friend, attorney, and former acting deputy U.S. attorney general. Hoffenberg described Epstein as the most financially astute person he knew.
Hoffenberg was highly intelligent, according to Baise, which may have contributed to his downfall.
In a phone interview on Friday, Baise claimed that the man “was too smart for his own good.” He believed his Ponzi scheme would allow him to get away with it, but it failed. He lacked self-restraint. One of his issues was that he consistently believed he was smarter than the next guy. He was a good man, though.
Baise, who claimed to have lost touch with Hoffenberg for a while, said he wasn’t shocked by his passing because Hoffenberg didn’t seem to be caring for himself well.
According to Derby police Lt. Justin Stanko, a private investigator on Tuesday requested that police conduct a welfare check on Hoffenberg for a woman who claimed to be close to Hoffenberg and a victim of Epstein’s sexual abuse. The fact that the woman had not heard from Hoffenberg for five days, according to the investigator, was unusual, according to Stanko.
Hoffenberg briefly took over the New York Post in 1993 while bidding to own it. The Post reported that Hoffenberg funded the paper for three months and rescued it from bankruptcy. His efforts to buy the paper were derailed by civil fraud allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that led to the criminal prosecution of the Ponzi case.