‘NSYNC’ Creator Lou Pearlman Dies in Prison

Lou Pearlman, an American record producer and fraudster has died at 62 in prison. The Federal Bureau of Prisons said that 62-year-old Pearlman died on Friday, without stipulating a cause of death.

Pearlman started in the aviation industry but shifted focus in the early 90s to music. As NPR’s Rebecca Hersher told, “Pearlman created the Backstreet Boys in 1993, after funding a talent search for young musicians in the Orlando area. The quintet went on to become the best-selling boy band ever.”

Lou Pearlman was the manager of successful 1990s boy bands such as Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. In 2006, he was accused of running one of the largest and longest-running Ponzi schemes in history, leaving more than $300 million in debts.

In February 2007, Florida regulators announced that Pearlman’s Trans Continental Savings Program was indeed a massive fraud and the state took possession of the company. Most of the at least $95 million which was collected from investors was gone. Orange County Circuit Judge Renee Roche ordered Pearlman and two of his associates, Robert Fischetti and Michael Crudelle, to bring back to the United States “any assets taken abroad which were derived from illegal transactions.”

Following a flight from officials, Pearlman was arrested in Indonesia on June 14, 2007 after being spotted by a German tourist couple. Specifically, Pearlman was charged with three counts of bank fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Five days before his sentencing, Pearlman requested a telephone and an Internet connection two days a week to continue to promote bands. U. S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp rejected the request. On May 21, 2008, Sharp sentenced Pearlman to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and making false statements during a bankruptcy proceeding. Pearlman could reduce his prison time by one month for every million dollars he helped a bankruptcy trustee recover. He also ordered individual investors to be paid before institutions in distributing any eventual assets.

In 2008, Pearlman began his prison sentence with a projected release date of March 24, 2029. He suffered a stroke in 2010 while incarcerated. Pearlman’s health continued to deteriorate and he died while still in custody at the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, on August 19, 2016.

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