Friday, October 5, 2007

Economist Al Parish, greedhead and scumbag

Al Parish, from the Charleston News and Courier

Al Parish is finally going to the pokey! Huzzahs and celebrations are in order!

If you aren't from these parts, sit down and listen to the story of our greedy economics professor, Al, as told by local journalists. First from Katy Stech of The Charleston News and Courier:
In 1986 [Al] Parish began offering his moneymaking services by launching Parish Economics LLC to oversee investment pools for individuals, corporations and pension and retirement plans.

Still, he kept a foot planted firmly in academia. In 1990 he became a professor at Charleston Southern University, a private college in North Charleston with about 3,000 students. Less than two years later the university honored him as an ''outstanding faculty member.''

As director of CSU's Center for Economic Forecasting, he developed a forecasting model that has been used by, among others, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber's Web site estimates that he lectures on economic and financial topics more than 200 times a year.

He currently sits on the chamber's board of directors, and on the board of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

Parish still teaches classes at CSU. This semester he is teaching two courses - ''Investments and Securities Analysis'' and ''Quantitative Methods.'' He has also written columns for The Post and Courier.

Parish, a Summerville resident, also taught Sunday school classes on financial planning at his church, according to his Web site.

Over the years, Parish acquired a taste for loud clothes, cartoon art and expensive pens.

He has said his pen collection is valued at $1.2 million and includes a Montblanc model that's studded with 1,400 white and blue diamonds.
Not your ordinary professor at a small southern college, you're thinking? You can say that again! Anderson Burns of Charleston's ABC-News affiliate, Channel 4, reported on the discrepancies that became apparent during a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation:
Parish claimed over $134 million dollars in his four managed accounts. First, he produced an Ameritrade account showing $15 million in stocks. Ameritrade officers produced the same account, showing just $4 thousand. Parish's account was for Parish Economics. Ameritrade showed the account was simply a personal husband and wife account, and that Parish's statements "appear to be made up by someone other than Ameritrade."

Second, Parish produced a Tradestation account, with no account number, showing $18 million in foreign bonds. Tradestation's version showed two accounts for Parish- one with $42 thousand, a second with $49,500. No bonds, of any kind, existed. Tradestation officials said Parish's versions were "not legitimate."

Third, Parish produced this Lind Waldock account statement, again with no account number, showing $52 million in futures commodities. Lind Waldock's version showed three accounts, with $7,000, $14,500 and nearly $112,000, respectively. They also said Parish's version was "not legitimate."

Finally, there's the matter of the $56 million worth of hard assets-art, watches, pens, etc. Sotheby's is expected to appraise what is in Parish's home on Monday. But even here, fraud appears present. A letter allegedly written by the chairman of a collectibles dealer out of Atlanta says "Dr. Al Parish has purchased approximately $16 million worth of Swiss watches, jewerly, and objects...." The secretary for the company said the company only sells about $6 million worth of items a year.
You'd think an economist could do better math than that!

The shit hit the fan in April of this year. Doncha love how Al conveniently develops amnesia!? Obviously, a big fan of the TV-Land network, or possibly old soaps:
A lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court accuses local economist and CSU Professor Al Parish of lying to hundreds of investors.

The suit, filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in Charleston, alleges that Parish provided fraudulent statements to some 300 investors, saying that their investments were growing and totaled more than $314 million. The SEC says, in fact, those accounts held less than $230,000 total.

The shake-up has investors scratching their heads, wondering where their money went. Motley Rice law firm, in Mt. Pleasant, had heard from 15 to 20 investors, as of Friday night, interested in filing suit against Parish. The multiple suits could end up in a class action suit. “How do you treat all of those people fairly if you don’t do it in some kind of united way?” says Joe Rice, attorney for Motley Rice, LLC. “I think a class action suit would be the appropriate way.”

Rice also says the investors aren’t only in Charleston. He says the fallout is affecting investors from all over the country.

"I think most people are completely lost, says David Dantzler, an attorney with Hays Consulting, the Atlanta-based firm appointed by the court to seize all Parish’s assets. “What happens in these cases, and we've done a lot of them, people are used to some level of income as a result of their investment, or some expectation that this investment was performing a certain way."

Meanwhile, Al Parish checked into a hospital last week, reportedly with a case of amnesia. MUSC cannot confirm or deny that he is there.

His home is being guarded throughout the weekend, until special moving plans can be made to transport his millions of dollars worth of assets to a storage facility.

"We're taking control of assets, furnishings in their home,” says Dantzler. “Jewelry, china, everything really, and they are cooperating with us."

Some of those assets include antiques and valuable artwork including original Norman Rockwell paintings and Disney cells. A source says the house also holds a custom-made Mercedes worth $475,000 and a chess set with a receipt for $3.2 million.

No criminal charges have been filed, meaning that if Parish is found guilty in the civil lawsuits, he would have to pay the money, but would not do any time. However, criminal charges have not been ruled out, but they would have to be brought on by state or federal authorities.
A hotline was set up for those who invested with Parish and needed more information. I am unsure if the phone number is still active, but if you are personally concerned about your own investments or someone you know, call (404) 926-0059 or visit to find out more.

And don't forget the fundie connection! This being South Carolina, you knew there had to be one! Will Moredock, of Charleston City Paper, writes:
As a Baptist college, CSU is very interested in preserving its image. For that reason, it requires its faculty and staff to sign a code of personal conduct, according to The Post and Courier. I readily admit that I have not seen a copy of said code (though I would love to), but that will not stop me from speculating freely about its contents. With that said, I would bet my shoes that the code has strict proscriptions on sexual activity and substances that may be ingested for recreational and entertainment purposes. And I would bet my socks that it said nothing about one's economic behavior — whether one was running a giant scam to defraud his friends and colleagues out of their savings, or investing in child-slave factories in Southern Asia.

The fact is, Parish's investors didn't know what their guru was doing with their money. Parish was notoriously secretive about the workings of his investment schemes and how he was able to promise returns of 30 percent and more. And the investors were happy not to know — as long as the money was rolling in.

One of those investors was CSU, which had $10.6 million — or a third of its endowment — invested with Parish. Who was responsible for doing the due diligence on Parish and his investments? Why didn't they know that he was not licensed with the Securities Exchange Commission to trade in securities for other people? Reading the accounts in the P&C, it was fun to watch the CSU president and the chairman of the board toss that hot potato back and forth.

The real victims of this tragedy at CSU are the students, more than 600 of whom may have lost their scholarship money in this debacle. Let us hope that this blue-collar university is chastened and not crippled by this disaster.

Two other smug institutions which have egg on their faces in the wake of the Al Parish imbroglio are the Post and Courier and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Parish frequently addressed gatherings of the Chamber with his economic forecasts and musings. Starting in January, he had graced the Business section of the P&C each week with the same.
And finally, today... good riddance!

S.C. Economist Pleads Guilty
Published: 10/5/07, 10:25 AM EDT
By BRUCE SMITH, Associated Press
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A former economist pleaded guilty Friday for his role in swindling investors out of an estimated $90 million, which authorities said he used to purchase diamond-encrusted pens, swanky cars and garish clothing.

Al Parish, 50, admitted to two counts of fraud and lying to investigators. He faces up to 45 years in prison.

Prosecutors claimed that Parish, known for his flashy sports coats and penchant for collecting paintings by comedian Red Skelton, defrauded about 500 people through his investment company.

Much of the $90 million taken was spent on Parish's lavish lifestyle, which included a half-dozen homes, customized cars, garish clothing, fine art and diamond-encrusted pens, authorities said.

Parish, a former economics professor at Charleston Southern University, claimed he had amnesia when authorities announced their investigation in April.

Authorities said he was not registered with the state or with the Securities and Exchange Commission to deal in securities, and that he promised investors returns well beyond Wall Street's wildest ambitions. He was fired from the university after the scandal broke.
Red Skelton?

Hope he rots in there.


antiprincess said...

he oughta be thrown in jail for that awful jacket, if nothing else.

glad he's getting what's coming to him.