No matter what you drive, you’re going to draw attention if you do so recklessly.
In April, state troopers pulled over Scott Thenen on the turnpike after he didn’t make way for an emergency vehicle with its lights flashing, according to police records. Cops smelled what they thought was weed in his car, and they say they were right. He had a joint hidden in a compartment, and a total of 10 grams of marijuana stored in his trunk.
What the troopers didn’t know at the time: They were about to arrest one of the area’s pioneer Ponzi schemers.
Thenen and his father Kenneth had their bulk-grocery trading company shut down in 1993 after investigators discovered they were running a $300 million fraud.
The Thenens guaranteed investors in the company, Premium Sales, a return of up to 40 percent, telling them that they bought groceries at the lowest wholesale prices they could find, then resold them in areas of the country where prices ran higher.
When the business began going south, the Thenens used proceeds from new investors to pay off old ones. Among their roughly 1,800 backers: Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio.
Both father and son pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering. A judge handed Scott Thenen an eight-year prison sentence (he got out in 2005), and recommended the younger Thenen participate in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.
While cops were questioning him after his April arrest, Scott Thenen admitted he used to be prescribed Xanax and that he smokes “weed” as a way of self-medication.
Thenen, 54, was charged with marijuana possession; he ultimately pleaded no contest. Thenen went free on $100 bond — paid by his dad, now 75 and living out his days in Boca Raton.
“I think, on a level they do know a Ponzi scheme is unsustainable,” Levi said. “And on another level they convince themselves that they can figure out a way to keep that going. It becomes human nature.
“People are always going to be vulnerable to these kinds of schemes.”