HARTFORD, Conn. – Medical investigators confirmed Friday that convicted Ponzi Schemmer and Jeffrey Epstein mentor Steven Hoffenberg was the person found dead in a Connecticut apartment earlier this week.
Hoffenberg, 77, was said to have died at least seven days before his body was found in Derby on Tuesday by police, who were responding to a request to check his well-being, authorities said. He had to be identified through dental records due to the decomposition of his body, police said.
His cause of death is pending the results of the toxicology test. An autopsy showed no signs of trauma, and there was no evidence of a struggle or break-in to the apartment, officials said.
Epstein, the disgraced financier who committed suicide in a 2019 New York prison while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing dozens of girls, worked for Hoffenberg’s debt collection company, Towers Financial Corp., in the late 1980s when officers were officers. prosecutors said the Ponzi scheme began.
Hoffenberg, who once tried to buy the New York Post, was eventually caught in one of the country’s biggest frauds. He admitted to defrauding thousands of investors out of $460 million and was sentenced in 1997 to 20 years in prison. He claimed that Epstein was actually the architect of the plan, but Epstein was never charged.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, he was released from federal custody in 2013. It wasn’t immediately clear how he ended up in a small apartment in a multi-family house in Derby, about 12 miles northeast of Bridgeport.
Gary Baise, one of Hoffenberg’s friends and attorneys and former acting deputy US Attorney General, said Hoffenberg and Epstein had a “special relationship” and Hoffenberg said Epstein was the smartest person he knew when it came to money.
Baise said Hoffenberg was also very intelligent, which may have contributed to his downfall.
“He was too smart for his own good,” Baise said in a telephone interview on Friday. “He thought he could get away with his Ponzi scheme, but he couldn’t. He had no self-control. He always thought he was smarter than the next and that was one of his problems. … But he was a good one Man.”
Baise, who said he had been out of contact with Hoffenberg for several months, said he wasn’t surprised by his death because Hoffenberg didn’t seem to be taking good care of himself.
Police in Derby were asked Tuesday by a private investigator to conduct a welfare check on Hoffenberg for a woman who identified herself as close to Hoffenberg and a victim of Epstein’s sexual abuse, Derby Police Lt. Justin Stanko. The researcher said the woman hadn’t heard from Hoffenberg for five days, and that was unusual, Stanko said.
Hoffenberg briefly took over the New York Post in 1993 while bidding to own it. The Post reported that Hoffenberg financed the newspaper for three months and saved 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.