Authorities on Friday confirmed that Steven Hoffenberg, a mentor to convicted sex offender and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was found dead in a Connecticut apartment on Tuesday.
Hoffenberg, a wealthy financier who spent 18 years in prison for a Ponzi scheme, was found decomposing in a Derby, Connecticut, apartment on Tuesday. Police, who were performing a wellness check, said that Hoffenberg had likely been dead for at least a week before his body was found.
The body of the 77-year-old was identified by dental records and his cause of death is still under investigation. According to officials, early evidence does not indicate foul play. The wellness check was initiated by a private detective employed by a woman who said she had been sexually abused by Epstein and in regular communication with Hoffenberg, local police said.
Hoffenberg, who has been described as a mentor to Epstein, employed the now deceased billionaire in the 1980s when a Ponzi scheme involving Towers Financial Corporation began. Epstein was found dead in a New York City prison cell in 2019 in what was officially ruled a suicide.
Towers was a financial collection entity that purchased debt from places like hospitals and phone companies, according to The New York Times. During his time running the company, prosecutors claimed that the Towers company issued more than $460 million in fraudulent notes and bonds. The company was also artificially inflated to make it appear more robust.
Hoffenberg called Epstein, who he had employed for about six years with Towers, a “criminal mastermind” in 2019.
“I thought Jeffrey was the best hustler on two feet,” he told The Washington Post. “Talent, charisma, genius, criminal mastermind. We had a thing that could make a lot of money. We called it Ponzi.”
Epstein did not face any criminal charges related to the Towers scheme, despite Hoffenberg’s claims that he was to blame. In 2013, Hoffenberg was released from prison after 18 years behind bars.
Former acting Deputy U.S. Attorney General Gary Baise told the Associated Press that the financier “was a good man.”
“He was too smart for his own good,” said Baise, who was a friend of Hoffenberg. “He thought he could get away with his Ponzi scheme but he could not. He did not have self-control. He always thought he was smarter than the next guy and that was one of his problems.”
In the early 1990s, Hoffenberg also attempted to gain control of the New York Post and for a short time owned the paper in 1993 before his fraudulent financial activities caught up with him.