Jeffrey Epstein’s mentor and Ponzi schemer Steven Hoffenberg was found dead in his Connecticut apartment

HARTFORD, Conn. — Medical examiners confirmed Friday that convicted Ponzi schemer and mentor to Jeffrey Epstein Steven Hoffenberg was the person found dead in a Connecticut apartment earlier this week.

Hoffenberg, 77, is believed to have died at least seven days before his body was found in Derby on Tuesday by police, who responded to a request to verify his well-being, authorities said. He had to be identified through dental records due to his decomposing body, police said.

His cause of death is pending toxicology test results. An autopsy showed no signs of trauma and there were no indications of a struggle or forced entry into the apartment, officials said.

Image: Steven Hoffenberg
Steven Hoffenberg in Shelton, Connecticut on August 1, 1993.Melissa Bunni Elian/The Washington Post via Getty Images File

Epstein, the disgraced financier who committed suicide in a New York prison in 2019 pending trial on allegations that he sexually abused dozens of girlsworked for Hoffenberg’s bill collection company, Towers Financial Corp., in the late 1980s when prosecutors said the Ponzi scheme began.

Hoffenberg, who once tried to buy the New York Post, ended up getting caught up in one of the biggest frauds in the country. He admitted defrauding thousands of investors out of $460 million and was sentenced in 1997 to 20 years in prison. He claimed that Epstein was in fact the architect of the project, but Epstein was never charged.

He was released from federal custody in 2013, according to the US Bureau of Prisons. It was not immediately clear how he ended up living in a small apartment in a multi-family house in Derby, about 12 miles northeast of Bridgeport.

Gary Baise, one of Hoffenberg’s friends and attorneys and a former acting assistant US attorney general, said Hoffenberg and Epstein had a “special relationship” and Hoffenberg said Epstein was the smartest person he knew. he knows about money.

Baise said Hoffenberg was also very smart, which may have contributed to his downfall.

“He was too smart for his own good,” Baise said in a phone interview Friday. “He thought he could get away with his Ponzi scheme, but he couldn’t. He had no self-control. He always thought he was smarter than others and that was one of his problems…. But he was a good man.

Baise, who said he had not had contact with Hoffenberg in several months, said he was not surprised by his death as Hoffenberg did not appear to be taking good care of him.

Derby Police were asked on Tuesday to carry out a wellness check on Hoffenberg by a private detective for a woman who identified herself as close to Hoffenberg and a victim of Epstein’s sexual abuse, the police lieutenant said by Derby Justin Stanko. The investigator said the woman had not heard from Hoffenberg in five days, which was unusual, Stanko said.

Hoffenberg briefly took over the New York Post in 1993 while bidding to own it. The Post reported that Hoffenberg funded the paper for three months and saved it from bankruptcy. His efforts to buy the paper were thwarted by allegations of civil fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission which led to criminal charges in the Ponzi scheme.

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