Concluding his first week of testimony at his fraud trial in federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, Barry Minkow described how, strapped for cash, he increasingly turned to individuals connected with organized crime for loans to keep his ZZZZ Best carpet cleaning company afloat.
Minkow, 22, said the late reputed mobster Jack Catain promised him $75,000 in a bail-out loan, then opened an office across from his in Reseda. Through Catain, Minkow said, he met Carmen Dinunzio of Boston and Robert (Bucky) Caravaggio of New Jersey, a reputed member of the Luchese Mafia family.
In May, 1985, Minkow said, he received $25,000 from Dinunzio “in a brown paper bag” and was warned that if he missed a payment, “he’d break my legs. (But) I didn’t care. I needed the money.”
At one point, Minkow appeared to choke up as he told the jury that another associate made him sign papers on a $50,000 loan, guaranteeing the man hefty profits even if Minkow died.
Several times, U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr. admonished Minkow’s attorney to stick to the government’s 57-count fraud indictment against Minkow “and not get tangled around on a lot of irrelevant information.” Minkow is scheduled to resume his testimony next Tuesday.