Victor also is not a defendant in the federal case, but was named by Gates as a suspect in the organized crime investigation. The police reports say that Victor, who changed his name from Robert Viggiano, has "an arrest record with the Los Angeles and New York police departments for conspiracy, forgery, extortion, robbery, theft of interstate shipments" and other crimes.
After agreeing to be interviewed by detectives, Victor said he "has been trying to be a good businessman since his release from prison" and that he met Minkow by chance in 1985, when he sold the young man an automobile from his Sepulveda car business, Reliable Auto Repair. Minkow began playing on the auto shop's baseball team, and eventually Victor "entered into a business deal with Minkow which would provide him with 50% of (the) profits from restoration jobs by providing financing," the police reports say--the same deal Catain claimed he had earlier.
Rind told police that Victor next asked Schulman--with whom he had served time in prison--to come from New York to join the effort. Finally, Rind said, he too was introduced to Minkow by Victor.
Eventually operating through a company they called Richman Financial Services, Rind and Schulman arranged additional financing--and orchestrated important business moves--not only for ZZZZ Best, but two other Los Angeles-area enterprises: Splash, a trendy Malibu restaurant, and Art World Industries, an art sales firm.
The two men, who live within a short walk of each other in the San Fernando Valley, are portrayed in the documents as a partnership of brains and muscle.
A street-wise, colorful figure who grew up in the Forest Hills section of Queens, N.Y., Rind speaks in a rapid-fire business lingo, often ending his sentences by asking: "You understand?"
Rind's background includes two criminal convictions involving securities and mail fraud. A one-time stock broker, he was barred from the securities business in 1978 by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the police reports, Rind has "connections with organized crime," and law enforcement officials said he has gained, within those circles, a reputation as a financial genius of sorts.
'Extensive Arrest Record'
The record of the 5-foot, 8-inch, 275-pound Schulman, on the other hand, reflects a tougher, street-crime orientation. According to the police reports, Schulman, raised in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., "has been imprisoned for extortion and conspiracy" and has "an extensive arrest record" for burglary, bookmaking, assault and other crimes. He is further identified as "a reputed associate of the Genovese crime family."
Schulman, 53, has declined to be interviewed. But Rind, in an interview last year, said Richman Financial--based in Schulman's town house--is a legitimate firm established to provide venture capital for businesses getting off the ground. Richman Financial's activities have been underwritten with "money we made in the stock market, every goddamn cent of it. . . . We don't do anything illegal," he said.
"The cops can say anything they want . . , " he told reporters in the kitchen of his two-story town house. "They can investigate us now until the world comes to an end, and they wouldn't come up with nothing."
In a move that surprised authorities, Rind called prosecutors soon after Gates' press conference and volunteered to come downtown to the district attorney's office and discuss the case. The police reports show that, at the lengthy meeting that followed, Rind readily talked about various reputed organized crime figures, his own enterprises and the meaning of entries on his ledgers, which had been seized under a police search warrant.
Through it all, he maintained his innocence.
Rind told detectives that he was a legitimate financier and investor in ZZZZ Best, and that he was as shocked as anyone to learn that insurance repair jobs were fabricated--that he was, in essence, a victim of the fraud.
"I was doing my investments and whatever I do," he summed up his role.
Among the things he did, according to the documents, was to orchestrate two moves in 1986 that enabled ZZZZ Best to grow from a local service company to a firm that climbed in value on Wall Street.
First, Rind told detectives, he arranged the "shell route" that ZZZZ Best used to go public--merger with a defunct Utah company.
Then he helped arrange the purchase of electrical generators from the Cayman Islands, hardware that ZZZZ Best claimed was worth $2 million--the amount of assets required for a company to gain a listing on the over-the-counter stock market.
Police said the generators actually were worth $200,000.
Rind and Schulman also helped ZZZZ Best get money for insurance restoration projects by putting Minkow in touch with Jay Botchman, who ran a Montvale, N.J., firm that makes high-interest, short-term loans to individuals and companies that cannot obtain conventional financing.