Guilt Told in Case Linked to ZZZZ Best

From United Press International

A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty Wednesday to laundering more than $300,000 that ZZZZ Best owner Barry Minkow is accused of stealing from his carpet-cleaning company in a massive fraud scheme.

Minkow, 21, and 10 associates were indicted in January on racketeering, money laundering, and fraud charges in an alleged scheme to inflate the worth of ZZZZ Best, which Minkow founded in his parents' garage and turned into a $200-million company.

Eugene Lasko, 56, of Los Angeles was charged separately in a related conspiracy to launder through Las Vegas casinos money Minkow allegedly stole from ZZZZ Best coffers.

Pleading guilty Wednesday, he admitted that he conspired to launder money, aid in the interstate transport of stolen funds, evade bank currency transaction reporting requirements and impede the Internal Revenue Service.

Faces 5 Years in Prison

At his March 28 sentencing before U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian, Lasko will face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Two men indicted with Minkow, Brian Morze and Thomas Padgett, were expected to plead guilty Thursday. Trial for the others is set for March 8.

Minkow and the other defendants allegedly created a massive, fictitious insurance restoration business to inflate the worth of ZZZZ Best to investors and banks. As a result, he obtained millions from loans and a public stock offering before going bankrupt last July.

Lasko admitted obtaining $320,000 in cashier's checks from Great Western Savings & Loan in Woodland Hills on June 30, 1987, after depositing a $240,000 ZZZZ Best check given to him by another defendant, Minkow's neighbor, Jack Polevoi, into an account held by Lasko's firm, Cal West Services.

At Polevoi's direction, Lasko said, he withdrew the $240,000 in cashier's checks along with another $80,000 from ZZZZ Best, which Polevoi said had been deposited earlier.

In a statement to the judge, Lasko depicted Polevoi as the power behind the laundering scheme, but admitted he knew the funds were from ZZZZ Best. Lasko said he, Polevoi and Polevoi's brother, Jerry, both indicted with Minkow, tried to cash the cashier's checks at Las Vegas casinos July 1 and 2, but tellers refused, saying they could be cashed only for gambling markers.

The men cashed the checks for the markers, but played only a small portion, cashing the rest of the chips back in for currency, Lasko said.

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