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Valley 200

ZZZZ Best Chief Got Called on the Carpet

VALLEY 200: To commemorate the bicentennial of the San Fernando Mission and the San Fernando Valley, for 200 days we will feature people --some famous, some notorious-- who left their mark on the area.

March 13, 1997|BARRY STAVRO

Barry Minkow, 30, was voted class clown by his graduating class at Cleveland High School in Reseda. In 1987 he proved that he deserved it, after his Reseda company, ZZZZ Best, collapsed like a house of cards.

Minkow and his associates hoodwinked Wall Street firms, investors, accountants and lawyers through an elaborate series of cover-ups into believing that his company had won multimillion-dollar damage- cleanup contracts. For a few months ZZZZ Best's stock soared, and briefly the company was valued at more than $200 million. Minkow proudly appeared on Oprah Winfrey's TV show boasting of his entrepreneurial skills.

In fact, Minkow was cooking his company's books and operating only a pipsqueak rug-cleaning business.

Minkow, who grew up in Reseda, was convicted of the scam and spent seven years in prison. While there, he says, he found religion and is now an assistant pastor at the Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth. He says he is using part of his income to repay victims.

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