Clive Palmer media adviser Andrew Crook charged over alleged kidnap of National Australia Bank executive


By the National Reporting Team’s Mark Solomons and Mark Willacy – exclusive

Fri 19 Dec 2014, 4:59pm

Clive Palmer‘s media adviser and confidant Andrew Crook has been granted bail after facing court charged over the alleged kidnapping of a National Australia Bank executive on an Indonesian island.

Crook was arrested this morning during police raids on properties in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

As part of the same operation, police from the state’s anti-bikie taskforce arrested Mick Featherstone, a Gold Coast private investigator and former senior detective at the centre of a year-long probe by Queensland‘s Crime and Corruption Commission into money laundering and police corruption.

Police also issued a warrant for the arrest of multi-millionaire property developer and former Sydney Swans , who lives in Bali.

Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au

Crook and Featherstone were held during morning raids at addresses in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm and Upper Coomera on the Gold Coast.

Crook was then taken to his Brisbane CBD office where police carried out further searches.

Officers also raided another Brisbane premises and seized documents.

On Friday afternoon Crook and Featherstone faced court charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, retaliation against a witness and attempted fraud against NAB.

Crook was bailed on conditions including that he surrender his passport and does not go within 100 metres of the NAB’s Southport branch.

The ABC understands Queensland Police will allege Crook and Mr Smith were involved in a January 2013 attempt to coerce a witness in a $70 million civil case involving Mr Smith to recant his evidence, using subterfuge and threats of violence.

Queensland Police say the charges stem from an elaborate scheme which police will allege was planned partly in Queensland. Section 12 of the Queensland Criminal Code allows for prosecutions for offences overseas where they would be considered crimes in Australia.

Police have been investigating claims Crook and Mr Smith lured the witness, an employee of the National Australia Bank, to Singapore and on to Batam Island in Indonesia using the pretence of a possible job offer from Clive Palmer.

It will be alleged that once on Batam Island, the witness was strip-searched, threatened and forced to make a statement recanting his evidence.

Clive Palmer calls raids a ‘black day for Australia’

Mr Palmer is not thought to have had any involvement in, or knowledge of the plot.

The federal MP arrived at Crook’s office during the raid and said he knew nothing of the allegations.

But he suggested the police actions could be politically motivated.

“I don’t know very much other than to say that Crook Media and Andrew Crook are responsible for all our media in Australia, was responsible for the Palmer United Party winning the last federal election,” he said.

“And of course, the LNP, the Liberal Government – Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott – don’t like the opposition we’ve been giving them in the Senate, they don’t like that sort of thing.

“I think this is a black day for Australia if any of this, which I don’t know anything about at the moment, has anything to do with political freedom in this country.

“I think it’s very important that there’s freedom of speech in Australia, that there’s diversity of opinion. I’m personally very concerned because Mr Crook is our media adviser and if they wanted to attack me or our party they can do that.”

Brisbane-based Crook has been Mr Palmer’s media adviser and spokesman since before the tycoon entered politics.

Since becoming a federal MP, Mr Palmer has retained the services of Crook and his PR firm, Crook Media, to handle his political media relations.

Clive Palmer chats with Andrew Crook Photo: Mr Crook has been Mr Palmer’s media adviser and spokesman since before the tycoon entered politics. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

Mr Smith made his fortune in the tourism industry after his AFL career.

Since 2009 he has been embroiled in legal action against the National Australia Bank, claiming the bank caused him to lose $70 million at the height of the global financial crisis.

He began building the biggest mansion on the Gold Coast, on Hedges Avenue at Mermaid Beach, but was later forced to sell it unfinished and at a loss.

Mr Smith then shifted his businesses to Bali, where he has developed luxury holiday accommodation. He also has interests in New Zealand and has re-invested in Gold Coast real estate in the past couple of years.

It is understood detectives from the Queensland police anti-bikie taskforce Maxima stumbled on evidence of the alleged January 2013 plot earlier this year while investigating Featherstone and his links to bikies, to former and serving police officers and his involvement with online betting syndicates on the Gold Coast.

The ABC revealed in September that Featherstone was the focus of a joint Maxima and Crime and Corruption Commission probe described as a “priority” investigation by CCC chairman Ken Levy.

In a parallel, four-month investigation, the ABC uncovered evidence Featherstone had for almost 10 years been involved in setting up and operating online betting syndicates alleged to have defrauded thousands of people across Australia of millions of dollars.

Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading (QOFT) this week renewed Featherstone’s private investigator’s licence, which had expired in October. It also renewed the licence held by his PI firm, Phoenix Global.

The office of Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, which oversees the QOFT, told the ABC it had conducted the required criminal history checks and could find no reason to deny Featherstone or his firm a licence.

Rhodes superannuation administrator charged over missing $3.9m super money – 8yr transfer trail linked to gambling habit


More to come on this greedy bastard after next court hearing

Steve Stickney

Charges relate to money being transferred from members’ accounts.

Charges relate to money being transferred from members’ accounts.

A 52-year-old Rhodes superannuation administrator was charged today with fraud offences relating to the disappearance of $3.9 million.

Late this afternoon Fraud and Cybercrime Squad detectives arrested and charged the man, alleging the senior administrator at a business providing services to a superannuation company altered documents and transferred money from members’ accounts.

They also alleged the money was then withdrawn over a period of eight years, with the funds used for gambling.

Detectives arrested the man at his workplace and took him to Burwood Police Station where he was charged with 16 counts of obtain money by deception and three counts of fraud.

He was granted conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on Thursday January 8, 2015. Are we ever going to see him again seeing he stole so much money?

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/

Single mum on benefits accused of conning lovelorn men in their 60s and 70s out of $2m


A romance scam is a confidence trick involving feigned romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims’ money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.

Her name is kept from us, but she is a disgrace, robbing lonely old men out of all their money, mind you she is on the pension collecting over $1500 a fortnight already. Three thousand dollars a month, but she wanted more for herself, over 2 million dollars she extracted from these old blokes with all sorts of bullshit lies. A real pro, 5 bank accounts, money laundering, online ads, newspapers, the sexy photos…Greedy disgusting person

Don’t think for a minute she was doing this for her kids. No the money spent on outrageously expensive hand bags, sports cars and plastic surgery and the like. Not things useful to her four children aged 2 to 16

Single mum on benefits accused of conning lovelorn men in their 60s and 70s out of $2m

The suspect is led away by police / Picture: Matt Jewell

The suspect, a mother of four, is led away by police in Miller in Sydney’s west.

  • Mother of four, 39, was arrested yesterday in Miller
  • Received $1500 a fortnight through social security
  • Conned money from three men without meeting them
  • Had a sexual relationship with another
  • Two victims were in their 60s, two in their 70s

A SINGLE mother on benefits prowled lonely hearts messages online and in ­newspapers to “romance scam” more than $2 million from lovelorn men.

The 39-year-old woman was arrested yesterday at her Miller home in Sydney’s West and is understood to be the first person in Australia to be charged with the crime more commonly associated with Nigerian fraudsters.

The woman allegedly scammed four men using a variety of convincing stories.

The woman allegedly scammed four men using a variety of convincing stories.

The mother of four children, aged two to 16, received $1500 a fortnight in social ­security benefits. But she ­allegedly spent the proceeds from her romance fraud on sports cars, exotic holidays, Louis Vuitton handbags and plastic surgery.

She also allegedly bought a house in Miller, tore it down and built a new one.

Three of the men handed over money to the woman without even meeting her while one, an interstate ­businessman, had a sexual ­relationship with her at a north shore apartment that he owned.

The profile photo the woman used online to lure men / Picture: Supplied

The profile photo the woman used online to lure men

“This woman was very good at convincing men that she was in love with them and that they were in a relationship,’’ said Detective Superintendent ­Arthur Katsogiannis, the head of the NSW Fraud and ­Cybercrime Squad.

Police will allege the woman had five bank ­accounts and spun a number of sob stories to the victims, which all ended in her needing them to put money in her bank accounts.

“She would tell the men that a relative in Egypt had died and she needed money to get the funds released from the state or her child needed an operation in Melbourne,’’ Detective Katsogiannis said.

“We will allege she used a number of these stories to play on the men’s good nature and emotions.’’

Police seize cars from the woman’s Western Sydney home as she is led away by police / Pic

Police seize cars from the woman’s Western Sydney home as she is led away by police

Police will also claim she laundered the money by buying expensive cars and then selling them at a loss.

One victim was allegedly duped of $1.9 million and the other three gave over $190,000, $58,000 and $12,000. Two of the men were aged in their 60s and another two were in their 70s. Police believe the woman could have many more victims.

“This sort of scam is often operated from overseas and we believe this is the first time anyone has been charged with doing it in Australia,” Detective Katsogiannis said.

“The men who have come forward are to be commended. It takes a lot of courage to report something potentially very embarrassing.’’

Police froze more than a $1 million in cash and assets and yesterday seized cars from the woman’s home.

The woman targeted older men who placed ads on singles message boards Lavalife and Meeting Point.

“We live in a world where love has grown cold, loneliness is increasing,” Detective Katsogiannis said.

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Michael Williamson jailed for at least five years over HSU fraud


Another greedy union official bites the dust, jailed for 5 years, that’s good, but not enough when one considers what he got up to. Filling his own and his families pockets with as much money as they could grab from the low paid workers this bastard was supposed to represent. Paying family owned companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for non existent or grossly over charging for work in the union.

I posted about his antics here several years ago along with Craig Thompson and the high living they felt was a free for all “Entitlement”

I will piece together my other posts and add them here shortly. Tip of the iceburg people…

Michael Williamson jailed for at least five years over HSU fraud

Updated 5 minutes ago

Former Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson has been sentenced to up to seven-and-a-half years in jail for fraud.

The New South Wales District Court was packed as sentencing Judge David Frearson described Williamson as “brazen and arrogant”.

The judge said Williamson was in a position of power when he defrauded the union of nearly $1 million.

The 60-year-old will be eligible for parole after serving five years in prison.

Williamson had been facing a possible 20 years in jail after pleading guilty to four charges including fraud and recruiting others to hinder a police investigation.

Prosecutors say Williamson, who was already on a salary of about $500,000, was motivated by greed.

The court has been told the former Australian Labor Party president submitted false invoices to the union from a company in his wife’s name.

Williamson’s lawyers say he has apologised and taken full responsibility for his actions, noting he has also suffered depression since his behaviour was exposed.

More to come.

Michael Williamson apologises for fraud as Health Services Union claims back funds

Updated Wed 16 Oct 2013

Disgraced former ALP president Michael Williamson has apologised to members of the Health Services Union (HSU) for his large-scale fraud, as the organisation moves to recoup millions of dollars.

Williamson appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court yesterday and admitted funnelling almost $1 million of union funds into companies he had an interest in as well as recruiting union members to help cover his tracks.

Williamson admitted claiming $340,000 for a business called Canme Services – which was registered in his wife Julieanne’s name – although no services were ever provided.

He also admitted to defrauding the union out of $600,000 through a consulting company called Access Focus.

The HSU says it has now finalised its civil claim against Williamson in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

He has been ordered to pay the union $5 million for breaches of his duty, overpayments of remuneration and negligence.

But it is unclear how much of the money will be recovered because Williamson has declared himself bankrupt.

Branch secretary Gerard Hayes says the union will still be able to claw back significant funds.

“We are able to withhold $1.1 million out of his superannuation and we are withholding $600,000 of unpaid entitlements,” he said.

“And very importantly as well a public apology will be issued to our members.”

Members of the HSU include some of the lowest-paid health workers such as cleaners and support staff.

In his letter of apology released by the union, Williamson urges members not to quit saying he accepts responsibility for what he did:

“I wish to place on record my sincere apology to all of you.

“You placed your trust in me when I was the general secretary and I abused that trust.

“I apologise unreservedly to all of you for my actions, which were not in keeping with the position I formerly held.

“I have agreed to assist the union in recovery actions against others, and will honour that agreement.

“The court will determine the penalty I am to receive, but it won’t remove the fact I have to live with this matter until the day I die.”

The HSU says the settlement was reached with the help of independent mediator, the former federal attorney-general Robert McClelland.

Mr Hayes says it is a line in the sand for the beleaguered union.

“This puts the last couple of years of turmoil to bed and it gets the union focused on what the union should be focused on,” he said.

Sentencing for Williamson begins in two weeks.

Former HSU boss Michael Williamson admits fraud offences

Updated Tue 15 Oct 2013

Former Australian Labor Party president Michael Williamson has pleaded guilty to funnelling almost $1 million from the Health Services Union (HSU) to businesses he had an interest in.

Williamson, who was arrested when detectives raided his Maroubra home in Sydney’s east last year, now faces jail for the offences.

The police investigation probed allegations of corruption during his time at the HSU aired by the union’s national secretary, Kathy Jackson.

He was accused of dozens of offences, including money laundering, dealing with the proceeds of crime and dishonestly dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds.

Williamson appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court this morning with his solicitor Vivian Evans.

The prosecutor told Chief Magistrate Graham Henson that several offences had been folded into four formal charges that Williamson would plead guilty to.

Williamson admitted funnelling nearly $340,000 into a business called Canme Services, which was registered in his wife Julieanne’s name.

Dozens of cheques were made out to Canme for services that were never provided to the union.

He also admitted to defrauding the union out of $600,000 through a consulting company called Access Focus.

It is believed Williamson received a massive windfall from the company due to inflated fees billed to the HSU.

The former unionist also pleaded guilty to fabricating invoices to cover his tracks in returns to the union in February last year.

Caught shredding evidence

The final guilty plea came in relation to recruiting of other union members to help destroy evidence and hinder a police investigation.

Last year, Williamson was caught trying to shred documents when he was confronted by the NSW Fraud Squad at the union offices in Sydney’s CBD.

He has pleaded guilty to recruiting Carron Gilleland to help him destroy evidence in the case.

‘Absolutely outrageous nepotism’

SMH investigative reporter Kate McClymont broke the story that led to the charges. She has told the ABC it is a case of “absolutely outrageous nepotism”.

“Especially when you think that the members of the HSU are hospital cleaners, orderlies, among the lowest paid unionists in the country,” she said.

McClymont is not surprised Williamson pleaded guilty, saying there were “certain pressures put on him” to do so.

“For instance, his son Christopher was one of those that was possibly facing criminal charges. So I think that there has been some argy bargy going on over the last couple of months that has led to his guilty plea today,” she said.

Listen to McClymont’s interview with the ABC.

Williamson stayed quiet through the proceedings today, with the prosecutor informing the court of the amended charge sheet.

He emerged from court speaking on a mobile phone and ignored the hive of media that had assembled.

Williamson resigned from the HSU late last year, less than two weeks after a leaked report into the union’s internal workings alleged he engaged in nepotism by funnelling union funds to himself and his family.

The report, by Ian Temby QC and Dennis Robertson, detailed allegations of multi-million-dollar instances of nepotism, maladministration and cronyism.

It said Williamson had a salary of almost $400,000 and alleged five members of his family were among the union’s best paid employees.

The magistrate committed Williamson to sentencing on October 28 in the District Court.

Police have previously said they expect to make more arrests in the case.

Closure for union members

The Australian Council of Trades Union (ACTU) says it hopes Williamson faces the full force of the law.

ACTU president Ged Kearney says he deserves whatever punishment he receives.

“Defrauding union members of their money is something that the union movement cannot abide and will not stand for,” she said.

“These offences are very serious and we’re very pleased that they will be dealt with properly by the criminal law.”

The New South Wales secretary of the HSU, Gerard Hayes, says today’s guilty pleas by Williamson will help bring closure for the union’s members.

“There are 30,000 victims in this matter,” he said.

“They needed closure and this certainly brings closure for them.”

Queen of Con, Jody Harris


Australia’s Queen of Con, Jody Harris

Paul Anderson

IF CONWOMAN Jody Harris had used her extraordinary nous and talent for good instead of criminal gain she could have been anything.

Dubbed Australia’s greatest con-woman by police for good reason, Harris committed an amazing con-job spree along the eastern seaboard; fleecing women’s bank accounts and stealing policemen’s hearts.

Police who investigated Harris – and those who slept with her – have grudgingly admitted she is the best female confidence swindler this country has ever seen.

Her methods were so impressive, and her vixen-like persona so elusive, that one senior Victorian police officer likened her to the famed US conman Frank Abagnale – the man who inspired the hit film Catch Me If You Can.

As a young man, Abagnale cashed millions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent cheques while posing as a pilot, doctor, lawyer and professor.

A major thorn in the side of the FBI, he seduced a handful of women before he was finally arrested.

During her run, Harris (now known by the surname Harding) posed as an air hostess, doctor, psychiatrist, policewoman and even the niece of slain Melbourne underworld figure Mario Condello as she befriended women and gleaned documents and information necessary to impersonate them and plunder their banks accounts.

Born in Queensland, Harris was the daughter of a violent father and now well-known human rights activist turned lawyer Debbie Kilroy (nee Harding).

Harris had an abused and disrupted childhood.

 

Conwoman Jody Harris bled victims’ bank accounts dry in three states.

Judge Felicity Hampel would confirm in Melbourne’s County Court: “You were denied in your childhood the safety and stability which family life should provide children.”

Debbie was only 17 when she gave birth to Jody.

After she and her daughter were assaulted, Debbie left her violent husband.

“(Jody’s) father had always inflicted violence on me and I stayed in that, but the day that he hit her with a broom handle in the chest because she was crying, I actually left the relationship,” Debbie explained in the County Court.

Barrister Julie Sutherland told the same court that, after being abused by an uncle, Harris started committing crime at the age of 14.

She was even able to change all my personal details on the cards to hers to the point where, when I tried to change them back to mine, I could hardly prove who I was any more

“Even at 14 she’s making out she’s a policewoman and committing frauds, and so it goes on – year after sorry year,” Ms Sutherland said.

Years on, and using clever cover stories – while sometimes disguised in wigs and sunglasses – Harris got chummy with chosen victims and stole their identities before making a mockery of bank security by withdrawing thousands.

 

Jody Harris used all her charms to rack up debts under other peoples’ names.

She lived it up, sating her taste for luxury goods buying jewellery, designer clothes and accessories (her favourite brand was Louis Vuitton).

She stayed in five-star hotels where, on occasion, she stole personal documents from staff and guests at the gym facilities.

On one occasion on the streets of Melbourne, she pretended to be a detective and pulled over a 21-year-old woman named Alysha Searle.

Flashing a badge, she tricked Ms Searle into handing over her licence.

“She was very convincing,” Ms Searle would later say in court.

Using the licence, Harris withdrew $3000 from Ms Searle’s bank account and changed the password.

That was not the first time Harris had successfully posed as a copper.

According to court testimony from Victoria Police internal affairs investigator Det-Sgt Frank Torcasio, there was an allegation that Harris impersonated a policewoman and gained access to the Roma Street police complex in Brisbane in 1998.

Det-Sgt Torcasio also confirmed an allegation that Harris had lived with a Sydney detective for about six months.

 

Jody Harris is arrested in Sydney in 2006.

He also told the County Court that Harris had socialised with Victorian policemen in 2001 while pretending to be a visiting detective from New South Wales.

The Victorian cops had not doubted her story.

“They took it on face value on the flashing of a badge,” Det-Sgt Torcasio told the court.

About 12 years before she hooked up with Acting-Sgt Andrew Twining, Harris had met another Victorian policeman who worked at the Russell Street police station.

Harris told that officer that she was the daughter of an advertising executive and had attended a prestigious Brisbane girls’ school.

A relationship blossomed between the two; a relationship that ended that policeman’s career.

“I think she just had a fixation with me because I was a copper,” that former officer told the Sunday Herald Sun.

Harris became the focus of Victorian detectives in early 2006.

On May 19 that year, detective Paul Bertoncello spoke to this author and provided full details of Harris’s crime wave for a front-page story.

 

Jody Harris looked much more innocent in her pictures, even when she was snapped at Brisbane’s Correctional Centre in 2000.

“It’s like chasing a phantom,” Sen-Det Bertoncello said.

“She’s using different names and has proved very hard to track down.”

Victims included women such as Anita Mulligan, who fell and hit her head in the Melbourne CBD one night.

Harris swooped and drove Ms Mulligan to hospital, where she stole her licence and credit card before ringing her father to glean personal information.

“She told my dad she was a nurse and that her de facto was a police officer,” Ms Mulligan later told the Herald Sun.

“She conned my father and got whatever information she needed out of him.”

Harris changed Ms Mulligan’s bank account password and stole $10,500 from her account.

Posing as the daughter of a wealthy businessman, the “Queen of Con” tricked boutique clothing store owner Nova Gordon.

Using Ms Gordon’s stolen licence, Harris stole $37,870 from the bank – despite Ms Gordon freezing her account.

 

Police seized a huge array of photos of fake licences, credit cards and other IDs in the possession of Jody Harris, aka Jody Pearson-Harding and Jody Kilroy.

“She had all the trappings and pulled up outside my shop in a new four-wheel drive Lexus, dripping in jewellery,” Gordon would later say.

“I found out that Jody had been in the branch and convinced them she was me, and had the block removed. Her systems were better than ours.”

Another of Harris’ victims told police: “She was even able to change all my personal details on the cards to hers to the point where, when I tried to change them back to mine, I could hardly prove who I was any more.”

Another victim, Amanda Urquhart, stated: “You can remove yourself from it if people are using your ID, but if they start pretending to be you – that’s when it starts getting creepy.”

Less than a week after the first Herald Sun story appeared in May 2006, Harris rang Sen-Det Bertoncello’s office to bait her hunters.

She told investigators that she had been living in South Yarra.

It was a taunt: catch me if you can.

Detectives raided the vacated unit and found a Queensland police badge, a Victoria Police shirt and a Virgin Blue hostess outfit along with name tag, pin and crew bag tags.

Andrew Twining was on a cruise-ship holiday when a mate of his informed him about the true identity of his girlfriend.

 

Frank Abagnale (Leonardo Dicaprio) surrounds himself with stewardesses, who have no trouble believing he is an airline pilot in the film Catch Me If You Can.

Upon his return to Melbourne, Mr Twining helped a joint interstate police operation arrest Harris.

On July 6, 2006 he drove to Sydney to trip the trap.

Police swooped and netted the conwoman.

In Harris’s possession they found wigs, police property and more than 100 items of identification including a false Australian passport, driver’s licences, bank and credit cards, birth certificates, Medicare cards and even two Californian driver’s licences.

In the custody of NSW detectives, a drab and defeated-looking Harris spoke her mind to her captors, saying she must have been in “f—ing Hicksville full of f—ing two-headed c—s.”

“No offence,” she added facetiously.

In September 2006 at the age of 28, Harris pleaded guilty to 43 charges in NSW where she had bought more than $175,000 worth of goods and services using credit and bank cards stolen from 33 victims.

Items included a $3950 TAG Heuer diamond watch, a $1600 designer “bichoodle” poodle pup, bags, expensive clothes and shoes, hair extensions and a pearl necklace.

In sentencing her to four years’ jail with a minimum of 3 1/2, Magistrate Allan Moore said: “There is little doubt you are a person of intellect; a person of skill. One would have to suggest strongly that this was a matter of greed.”

In the Melbourne County Court, Harris pleaded guilty to a 36-count presentment relating to 15 victims.

Between January and May 2006, she stole a total $120,180 cash from various Victorian banks.

She used that money, in part, to purchase plane tickets, fancy dinners, hotel rooms, Louis Vuitton gear, clothing and lingerie.

Judge Hampel was told that Harris wanted to change her ways and replicate the shining example of her mother – a prisoner support advocate and solicitor with an Order of Australia honour to her name.

Harris also provided police with a video interview revealing her methods of operation for fraud investigators to study.

Just like Frank Abagnale, she had shared her criminal expertise with law enforcement agencies.

In sentencing Harris on December 19, 2008, Judge Hampel told her: “Your (record of) interview makes it clear that you took pride in the audacity of your activity, that you revelled in the publicity and that you used the money and credit to provide yourself with an ostentatiously luxurious lifestyle.”

It was a lifestyle that cost Jody Harris much more than she gained during her reign as the queen of con.