Eddie Antar, the founder of the electronics chain Crazy Eddie, which collapsed amid accusations of accounting fraud, has died at the age of 68.
Antar founded the stores in 1969 in Brooklyn, according to The New York Times, and built it into a chain of 43 stores across the Northeast. The chain’s TV and radio commercials were legendary, with pitchman Jerry Carroll typically ending them with the declaration, “Crazy Eddie, his prices are insane!”
The company went public in 1984, but after a group of dissident stockholders took control of the company in 1987, they learned that $45 million of merchandise was missing. Antar and his relatives had been faking inventory at the company, sometimes by stacking empty boxes in the warehouse to fool the auditors, while stashing millions of dollars in their homes and offshore in Israel and Switzerland.
After discovering the scheme, federal prosecutors accused him and two of his brothers of stealing from the company, and Antar fled to Israel in 1990. He was arrested in 1992 and pled guilty to one count of racketeering, ultimately spending almost seven years in jail. The company’s CFO, Antar’s cousin Sam, pled guilty to fraud and testified in court about the scheme. Sam Antar later became a popular speaker at conferences about accounting fraud (see Crazy Eddie’s Cousin Sam Sees Greater Potential for Fraud).
After his release from prison, Eddie Antar tried to relaunch Crazy Eddie as an Internet retailer in 2001, but the company proved unsuccessful.
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