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Celebrities / Music PopWrapped | Celebrities

Band Mogul Lou Pearlman Talks Prison, Madoff, and Hopes for the Future

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


01/24/2014 6:43 pm
PopWrapped | Celebrities
Band Mogul Lou Pearlman Talks Prison, Madoff, and Hopes for the Future
Media Courtesy of Newscom via The Hollywood Reporter
  Chessie Reiss

Staff Writer

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter boy band creator and music mogul Lou Pearlman discussed his prison time, how Bernie Madoff “was just a scamster”, and his plans for his future in the music industry. For those who don't know, in May 2008, Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in jail for a ponzi scheme that affected 1,700 people. The scam began in the 1980’s when Pearlman got involved with a questionable penny stock company, think Wolf of Wall Street.  Pearlman made his first millions during an initial public offering for the company Airship International, which raised three million dollars.  Meanwhile, Pearlman was conning individuals to invest his company, Trans Continental Airlines.  Investors would put their money into Trans Continental’s Employee Investment Savings Account (EISA), or simply Pearlman’s pockets. In the 1990’s Pearlman had a string of blimp accidents, which forced Pearlman to rethink his approaching.  Recalling that Pearlman once chartered a plane for money making band New Kids on the Block, he placed an ad in the Orlando Sentinel looking for teen male vocalists.  As a result of this advert he created that little known band The Backstreet Boys, and their 1997 hit "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) rocketed them into super stardom.  However, despite the success of the band, Pearlman still pushed his EISA program. N*Sync band member, Lance Bass, said, “The sad thing is, Lou could’ve had it all.  He could have had the new Motown in Orlando.  But that’s where greed comes in.  He was just a really greedy person.” In 2007, the FBI arrested Pearlman.  A year long trial followed and Pearlman was ultimately convicted for 300 months, one month for each million he ADMITTED to stealing, though there are speculations he could’ve taken nearly 500 million dollars. The judge agreed to knock time off Pearlman’s sentence if he could pay back the millions that he stole, one month for every million returned.  So far, nearly four million has been recouped, however this is not because Pearlman has had a pang of conscience.  Instead, the Chapter 11 trustee has had to hire an entire team to find the money to return it to those afflicted.  However due to his good behavior in prison, Pearlman has had four years knocked off his sentence. In 2010, Pearlman suffered a stroke.  Since then he “walks the track Monday through Friday, if the weather is nice.  I’m also taking a blood thinner, which helps me with my stroke situation.”  The shamed mogul says that he’s lost 75 pounds since he started walking, and “If I would have kept on going with my lovely steaks and onion rings and fries, I’d probably be dead right now…  It was definitely a wake-up call.”  He also says he gets along with the other prisoners, most of which he says are white collar criminals and he tries to keep his distance from the “drug dealers and crazies”. Vanity Fair ran an expose “Mad About the Boys” in 2007, which suggested that Pearlman could be guilty of sexual misconduct, however there were no first person accounts to substantiate these claims.   As for how that translates for Pearlman in jail, he said, “The accusations that came out in that article, non of it was substainiated…  The Vanity Fair piece interview only people that had a grudge…  {My fellow inmates} realize that none of that can be true.” Pearlman criticizes fellow ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff, insisting that him and Madoff are “not the same type of criminal”, despite the fact that Madoff is serving a 150 year sentence for $18 billion ponzi scheme. Accordig to Pearlman, “{Madoff} didn’t have any real way to make money, but I had the music…  He was just a scamster.  I don’t think it was right, what he did.  But I had my way to make it all right.  I just didn’t have my chance to do it.” Pearlman maintains that if he was allowed to conduct business from prison, he could put another “band together, that would have paid everybody back.”  Industry professionals generally agree that Pearlman doesn’t have an eye for talent or a genuine ear.  Bass, however disagrees with this, “I don’t think it’s far-fetched at all.  Of course, why not?  He obviously has the attention…  All it takes is a talented group and boom, they could blow up.” After six years in prison, Pearlman clings to his boy band dream to keep him grounded, and hopes to find the next super star.  He insists, “I’m feeling good.  I’m OK…  You know, that I deeply regret what happened.  And I’ll be back.”


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