A man once said, “If you’re a millionaire, you’re evil. If you’re a billionaire, you’re the antichrist.” That man was professional wrestler, Triple H. Of course, for most non-wrestling fans, the exact context of the quote — as well as the irony that Triple H himself is a real-life millionaire — would be lost, but for anyone with a deep understanding of common stereotypes regarding rich people, this quote should ring loud and clear. Many people would say that any filthy rich person had to get their hands a little dirty (and perhaps bloody) to find a shred of the success that they would achieve. In short, rich people have committed some terrible, ruthless, and above all else, immoral acts in order to become wealthy, keep their money in their pockets, or, in some cases, put more money in their already overstuffed pockets. Obviously, there are numerous exceptions to the rule, but there are also numerous examples from history detailing how super rich people did some pretty disturbing things with their time.
When asked to explain what a criminal looks like, it may be common for the average person to describe someone living in poverty — a ragtag tattered-up looking individual who is tatted in grime from head to toe. Essentially, it’s assumed that crime looks like street level trash — like the kind of person who would commit crimes for money because they need money. The truth, however, is that crime comes in several different forms, and often, the form that crime manifests itself in is that of a rich man or woman. Super rich people are normally the last people on the planet who actually need money, but greed can make people do crazy things. If not for greed, some rich people have committed crimes out of passion, jealousy, anger, etc. These are things that have made the wealthiest of individuals commit fraud, embezzlement, and often murder. Here are 15 cases of millionaires committing some unruly crimes.
15. Gigi Jordan – Poisoned Autistic Son
54-year-old Gigi Jordan was a socialite who lived a financially stable millionaire’s dream life. Even though her son battled autism, he still had the potential to live a happy, successful life thanks to the mountains of wealth he was born into. Sadly, thanks to his mother’s paranoia, the boy never lived past the age of 9. In 2010, Jordan poisoned her son under the assumption that her child would be subjected to sexual abuse by the boy’s biological father, whom Jordan suspected had plotted to kill her. There was no forensic or criminal evidence found to support this claim. Jordan’s hyper-paranoia could only be explained by Munchausen syndrome for which she had been diagnosed. Those stricken with the mental illness are likely to blatantly lie about disease, illnesses, traumas, and/or suspicious behavior in order to reassure their own beliefs or gain attention. Jordan received both as she felt no remorse or regret after killing her son while her crime sent shockwaves across the world until she was finally sentenced to an 18-year stint in prison in 2015.
14. Piper Kerman – Smuggled Drugs
The name Piper Kerman should ring a few bells for any of our Netflix users reading this as Kerman’s life was used as the basis for central protagonist Piper Chapman on the hit show Orange is the New Black, although Kerman wasn’t quite the same naive socialite that she’s portrayed as on the show. By 1993, Kerman was a well-to-do heir of a rich family full of lawyers, doctors, and attorneys. Kerman was born into wealth, but all that wealth wasn’t enough for the future jailbird. She met up with and started dating heroin dealer Catherine Cleary Wolters. Feeling the rush of adventure and excitement away from her blasé suburban lifestyle, Kerman agreed to help Wolters smuggle drugs for a notorious kingpin. Kerman’s new bad girl streak would catch up with her in 1998 once she was indicted for drug trafficking and money laundering. Kerman would serve 13 months of a 15-month sentence behind bars. She would chronicle her experiences in a tell-all book, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which would subsequently be adapted into the Netflix series.
13. Robert H. Richards IV – Accused Of R-ping His Children
The crimes of John du Pont have been well documented, but another heir of the du Pont family fortune is the perpetrator of an even more heinous crime. The great grandson of Irénée du Pont, Robert H. Richards IV, lives a lavish lifestyle, using the wealth he was born into in order to live in three houses year round. However, the general public soon found out that behind the wealth lived a monster, as in 2009, he was accused of raping his 3-year-old daughter. He even copped a guilty plea and was convicted to serve 8 years in prison. However, thanks to a crafty lawyer, Richards had his sentence suspended on grounds that “the defendant would not fare well” in prison. A year later, he was accused of molesting his son as well, but no evidence was found to support the allegations. On both accounts, Richards was merely sentenced to serve probation and attend court-regulated clinical psychiatric sessions — sessions which Richards failed to attend and suffered no consequences for neglecting.
12. Leona Helmsley – The Queen Of Mean
Anyone with a nickname like “The Queen of Mean” surely must have earned his or her reputation as a truly despicable human being. Anyone who knows anything about Lenora Helmsley knows that she definitely earned the nickname for the harsh way she’d treat her employees. Helmsley was notorious for throwing outbursts against anyone who crossed her path. Employees who worked for the billionaire hotelier can attest to the fact that she ran her business with a tyrannical iron fist. A former housekeeper of Helmsley’s even revealed that she had heard Helmsley once say, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” Helmsley most certainly lived by that mantra, as in 1989, Helmsley got nabbed on charges of criminal tax evasion, as well as 33 felony counts of fraud. Originally, she was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison but ended up serving only 19 months in prison with an additional 2 months on house arrest. The significant sentence reduction was due to all but 8 convictions being dropped and the fact that Helmsley was diagnosed with heart irregularity after fainting in the courtroom following her hearing. Helmsley would then die of congestive heart failure in 2007 at the age of 87.
11. Darlie Routier – Killed Sons
On June 6th, 1996, police arrived at a Rowlett, Texas home to learn that an intruder had broken in, attacked Darlie Routier, and murdered her two little sons. They arrived 3 minutes after Darlie’s phone call, but no intruder was found. Oddly enough, her husband and youngest 7-month old child were sound asleep upstairs and unharmed, and Darlie’s wounds appeared artificial. Following the children’s funeral, witnesses thought it strange to see Darlie celebrating one of her deceased boys’ 7th birthday with smiles, laughter, and cake at his gravesite just 8 days after the murder. Darlie was charged with murder 4 days later. Initially, prosecutors believed that Darlie killed her sons to ease some financial troubles, but after delving deeper into Darlie’s life, it was learned that she actually lived a pretty lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors then deemed Darlie to be a “pampered” housewife living off of the riches of her husband’s small business and after getting herself into some debt, staged the deaths of her sons and applied self-inflicted wounds under the impression that she would be compensated for the robbery. In February 1997, Darlie was placed on death row, though some still believe she’s innocent and investigations continue to try and prove her innocence.
10. Ron Medich – Murder Case
In Sydney, Australia, millionaires Ron Medich and Michael Loch McGurk were closely knit business partners until the two fell out of favor with each other due to a number of disputes. These disputes have made Medich a prime suspect in an ongoing investigation into the murder of McGurk, who was found outside his own home shot dead on September 3rd, 2009 with a single silenced bullet through the back of his head. Medich is alleged to have hired a bevy of men to commence a hit on McGurk. One of those men was former Bosnian soldier Senad Kaminic, and another was fellow millionaire Haissam Safetli. Both were paid respectively as a getaway driver and a shooter. Both are believed to have been paid around $250,000 to go through with the hit, and Kaminic testified that Medich was always visibly angry with McGurk, often going on long, verbal, swearing rants when talking about him. Despite testimonies against him, jurors are still struggling to reach a verdict on Medich.
9. Belle Gunness – Murder For Insurance
Belle Gunness was a rich woman, though her wealth was not a result of being the heir of a rich family or running a business from scratch. She became wealthy as a result of murdering several of her suitors and boyfriends between 1900 and 1908. The Norwegian native’s murders began after poisoning late husband, Mads Ditlev Anton Sorenson, and she cashed in his insurance money the day after his funeral. Afterward, numerous middle-aged suitors would disappear after arriving in her farm with full pockets. Things came to a head when her farm hand, Ray Lamphere, fell in love with her and, out of jealousy, would constantly make a scene in front of the suitors courting his employer. On February 3rd, 1908, Gunness had no choice but to fire Lamphere. Gunness proceeded to replace Lamphere with one Joe Maxson, but Maxson awoke to a sea of flames early one day. Lamphere was suspected by police of murder and arson, but to his surprise, Maxson survived his brush with fire. Even more grim, a female body was discovered in the rubble, and it was determined to belong to Gunness. Police were then motivated to dig in Gunness’s farmland soil, and they found a sea of dead bodies buried underneath. Following his May 22nd arrest, Lamphere would go on trial to save his own skin and reveal that by his count, Gunness had murdered 42 men (perhaps more) and accumulated up to $250,000 ($6.3 million by modern standards) from her victims.
8. James “Bob” Ward – Shot His Wife
2009 was not a good year for ex-Isleworth millionaire James “Bob” Ward, but it was an even worse year for his wife Diane. At the time, Ward was being sued on allegations that he had been wasting company money on houses, cars, and other personal expenses. In September, Diane was set to give a deposition against Ward, but days before, she was fatally shot in the face by her own husband. According to Ward himself, the trials against him had made his wife suicidal, and he was merely trying to stop her from killing herself. He claims that in trying to take the gun away from her, he accidentally shot her in the face. The jury didn’t buy it and considered Ward’s claims inconsistent with his 911 call regretfully admitting, “I just shot my wife. She’s dead. She’s done. I’m sorry.” Ward is serving 30 years in prison now as we speak and was recently denied bond in March 2016. The state of Ward’s wealth was constantly at the center of this trial as his lawyers argued that he was the victim of “class prejudice” in the jury’s eyes.
7. Lizzie Borden – Accused Serial Killer
It’s almost ironic to know that Lizzie Borden’s father made a fortune off of the manufacturing and sale of caskets when Lizzie Borden’s crimes had put many of her victims in caskets earlier than expected. Those victims were her mother, Abby Durfee Gray Borden, and her stepfather, Andrew Jackson Borden, who both ended up in coffins after Lizzie had hacked away at them with an ax — the latter 10 or 11 times and the former a total of 19 times, in the back. When brought in for police questioning, Lizzie maintained her innocence, but she often revealed inconsistencies in her stories regarding where she was at the time of the murders. Police recollected that Lizzie seemed too “calm” and “poised” in the wake of her parents’ murder by some supposedly unknown assailant. The police admitted on trial that they lacked proper diligence in investigating Lizzie and inspecting the Borden’s household. As a result, Lizzie was acquitted of the Borden murders, and the discrepancies in the case still raise many questions on whether or not she was actually innocent.
6. John Brooks – The Hit
Often, when rich people are under the impression that someone is stealing loads of money from them, they’ll go to great lengths to get the money back. New Hampshire millionaire John Brooks had the same mindset in 2003 when items from a moving job went missing. He was fairly certain that one of the movers, Jack Reid, was the culprit. Brooks decided to take matters into his own hands by having his son and a few hired guns pay Reid a visit — a visit that Brooks intended for Reid never to recover from. Brooks had his men ambush Reid in a barn and then beat him to death with a sledgehammer. When investigations came up, the men Brooks hired testified that they had watched Brooks furiously beat Reid with a hammer several times. Everyone involved was given a few years worth of time in prison, but Brooks himself was given a life sentence. As of now, his son Jesse is in the process of trying to get his own 15-to-30-year sentence reduced to 5 years or below.
5. Calvin Harris – Stalking
Due to a successful family business of car dealership chains, Calvin Harris (no, not the Scottish DJ) lived a prosperous lifestyle alongside his wife Michele and their 4 children. Nonetheless, wealth did not equate to marital bliss for the Harris couple as both had their affairs on the side. In the midst of their divorce, Michele was set to meet with an attorney to discuss finances on the night of September 11th, 2001. That same day, Michele disappeared without a trace. Calvin was made a prime suspect after six drops of blood were found in the couple’s home. In fact, Calvin was actually convicted of killing his wife. He was convicted not once, but twice; however, both convictions were eventually overturned. On May 24th, 2016, during the man’s 4th trial regarding this case, he was found not guilty. Critics remain split as to whether or not Calvin Harris is actually an innocent man. Today, 15 years into the investigation of the case, it doesn’t seem like police are getting any closer to finding out who killed Michele Harris. In fact, her body has never been found. In other suspicious news, Calvin has since been charged with stalking one of the troopers investigating his case.
4. O.J. Simpson – Accused Of Murder, Convicted Of Kidnapping
The crimes of O.J. Simpson have been well-documented and talked about to death by now, but considering the pedigree of this pro footballer, it’s hard not to talk about The Juice for the sake of a list like this. We would be treating O.J. like the elephant in the room if we ignored him, and a guy of his infamy is impossible not to acknowledge in subjects regarding criminality. O.J.’s murder trial regarding the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman originated over 20 years ago, and not only is it talked about as much now as it has ever been, but it also remains the crime of the century. Despite being found not guilty, whether or not O.J. did it is still heavily debated. What isn’t so heavily debated is his 2007 charge of armed robbery and kidnapping; that’s a little bit more concrete. O.J. and a group of cohorts entered a Las Vegas casino and stole sports memorabilia at gunpoint. Although he claims he was merely taking back what had been stolen from him, O.J. was nonetheless arrested and sentenced to 33 years in prison, a term which he is still currently serving, although he is eligible for parole in October of 2017.
3. Judy Buenoano – All About The Insurance Money
The sole reason why Judy Buenoano was so stinkin’ rich to begin with was the fact that she continually killed each of the men in her life for some insurance money. Her get-rich-quick scheme began with her marriage to James Goodyear in 1971. 1971 certainly was not a good year for Goodyear as he was poisoned by Buenoano with arsenic, but his death was considered the result of natural causes. 2 years later, she married Bobby Joe Morris, and by 1978, Morris would also die from Buenoano’s arsenic injections. In 1979, her son Michael grew fatally ill and paraplegic. Strangely, arsenic was found in his system. In 1983, Judy Buenoano took Michael on a canoe trip that would prove to be the 19-year old boy’s last. After the canoe rolled over, he would be pulled down into the water by his arm and leg braces, then drowned. A year later, she would be engaged to John Gentry; he was hospitalized following a car explosion. During the investigation, police would discover that Judy had been telling her friends that her fiance was terminally ill. Further investigation would notify police that John’s “vitamins” had been laced with arsenic. Buenoano was then arrested on multiple charges of insurance fraud, arson, and murder. She was given the death penalty in 1998.
2. Phil Spector – Killed Actress
Throughout his career, Phil Spector was world-renowned for being many things: musician, businessman, record producer, etc, but never in a million years could anyone have pegged him for a murderer — that is, until February 3rd, 2003 when actress Lana Clarkson was found dead in Phil Spector’s mansion. Earlier that morning, she had met with Spector at the House of Blues before leaving with him in his limo. The driver waited in his limo while Spector entered his mansion alone with Clarkson, and an hour later, the driver heard a gunshot coming from inside the mansion. Clarkson was later found sitting slumped over in a chair with a gunshot wound in her mouth. Despite telling his driver, “I think I shot her” and exiting his mansion through the back door with the gun, Spector went on to attest that he had not killed Ms. Clarkson. According to Spector, Ms. Clarkson merely “kissed the gun.” A prosecution would later come to the conclusion that Spector had shot Clarkson out of an untimely rage as Spector had a documented history of pulling guns on 4 previous women. Spector is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence without eligibility for parole until the age 88.
1. Robert Durst – Killed Wife And Neighbour
When people hear the idiom referring to a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the first person who might come to their mind may be Robert Durst. Durst, a wealthy real estate heir, has been a long-time suspect in the murders/disappearances of Kathleen McCormack Durst (his first wife), Morris Black (his neighbor), and Susan Berman (a longtime friend). All evidence pointed to Durst, but nothing was ever solid enough to get him jail time despite the fact he was the most likely culprit. And he would’ve gotten away with it, too, if not for those meddling kids and their stupid dog. Oh, and if he hadn’t admitted his crimes on national television for his HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. In that show, he confessed that he had “killed them all, of course.” Durst was incoherently rambling a confession to himself because, apparently, he forgot he would be 10-inches away from a camera at all times for the sake of his doc. For his blunder, Durst was arrested on account of first-degree murder on March 14, 2015, a day before his mini-series wrapped up. The trials are ongoing, but if convicted of his crimes, Durst could face the death penalty.