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Financier, Taxes Missing

$743,050 Owed by Big Operator Abroad

In county courthouses across the county, Federal tax liens are pending against thousands and thousands of individuals who, the government says, owe anywhere from $50,000 to millions of dollars in unpaid back taxes that the Internal Revenue Service has failed to collect. This is the story of one such person.

© 1974, The Philadelphia Inquirer

By the summer of 1970, the Internal Revenue Service was closing in on Thomas Antoine Shaheen Jr., the mastermind of a multi-million-dollar financial empire with holdings ranging from motion pictures to modeling schools.

IRS agents had issued summons to half a dozen banks in Chicago and Washington for a look at Shaheen's accounts in determining his assets.

Agents were probing the operations of his mini-conglomerate, Winthrop-Lawrence Corp. of Chevy Chase, Md., which Shaheen ran with partner, Lammot du Pont Copeland Jr. of the Delaware du Ponts.

And agents were trying to interview other associates in an effort to unravel the full story of Shaheen's complicated and far-flung financial dealings.

But by the time the IRS finally took steps to collect more than $700,000 in unpaid Federal income taxes that the agency eventually determined that he owed, Shaheen had liquidated his assets in this country and was living comfortably in London.

Shaheen had managed, remarkably, in the midst of a supposedly intense IRS investigation, to sell his plush $190,000 Chevy Chase house, ship his furniture and household goods by sea to England, mortgage two additional pieces of land for $80,000 and place his remaining assets in trust.

About the only things Shaheen left behind were IRS assessments totaling $743,050 in unpaid personal and corporate income taxes, including penalties.

Authorities have no idea how much money Shaheen took out of the country, but a Federal judge in Chicago said the 42-year-old money broker had a reported $7 million account in a Swiss bank.

Whatever the amount, Shaheen's comfortable life since fleeing the country has included an extended stay at a $1,200 a week suite at Rome's Ambassador Hotel on the famed Via Veneto.

The Ambassador was typical of a lifestyle he had been cultivating for years. Whenever possible, the aggressive, persuasive Shaheen, who regularly worked 18-hour days, according to a former associate, went first class.

He sent his children to expensive boarding schools in England, France and Switzerland. He gave a white-tie dinner for 70 guests at the posh Georgetown Club in Washington the night of his step-daughter's engagement.

He hired the law firms of F. Lee Bailey and former IRS Commissioner Mortimer M. Caplin when he needed legal help. He drove expensive cars and lived in exclusive residential neighborhoods.

He enjoyed socializing with the rich, the powerful and the glamorous. He liked the company of entertainers and millionaires, and his quick mind, self-taught in the arts of high finance, rarely failed to impress those he met.

The son of Syrian immigrants, Shaheen was born in Teaneck, N.J. He grew up in Compton, Calif., a modest suburb of Los Angeles where the family moved in the 1930s.

Into Real Estate

He entered his father's real estate business in the 1950s, but was soon moving into more extensive financial transactions involving land development and other investments.

Shaheen married Hiloah Robinson, also of Compton, in 1951. The couple was divorced in 1956 and she was awarded custody of their two sons.

Shaheen then married a woman nine years his senior, who was active in the real estate business and had two children of her own. Thomas and Evelyn Shaheen then had a daughter of their own in 1958.

By then, Shaheen, who was not yet 30 years old, was rapidly leaving his modest past behind.

He was an officer or director of no less than four California corporations involved in financial consulting, real estate development or other ventures.

They included Atlantic Industries, Inc., the Cambridge Fund of California, Blake Investment Co., and Pioneer-World Corp., all operating out of Long Beach.

Also in 1958, the Shaheens moved into a more exclusive neighborhood, purchasing a home on a secluded private drive in Long Beach with a market value of today of about $200,000, according to Los Angeles County assessment records.

Under Attack

It was not long, however, before Shaheen saw his hastily-built financial world under attack. Creditors were filing lawsuits on defaulted loans, others were poised to foreclose on property and Shaheen's operations seemed increasingly overextended.

One of the lawsuits filed against him during that period was by the San Fernando Valley Bank in April 1963, charging that Shaheen fraudulently conveyed four parcels of land to a company, one of whose officers was his brother-in-law, to avoid seizure by his creditors.

The bank loaned Shaheen $100,000 in April 1962, repayable at 6-1/2 percent annual interest three months later. When Shaheen failed to make any payments, the bank sued and obtained a judgment of $100,000 plus interest and costs.

Not only were creditors knocking on Shaheen's door in the early 1960s, but so was the IRS for the first time.

The IRS assessed the Shaheens for $28,850 in additional income taxes for 1961. A Federal tax lien was filed Oct. 7, 1963.

In the next two years, the IRS filed liens on several Shaheen-related enterprises totaling at least $86,000 for failure to pay corporate income taxes or to remit his employes withholding and Social Security payments.

By the time Shaheen filed for bankruptcy in 1966, he said the IRS was trying to collect $227,737 in income taxes from him for 1960 and 1961 alone.

Settles With IRS

He filed a petition in United States Tax Court contesting the IRS assessment. The IRS and Shaheen later agreed to settle for $52,000. Whether Shaheen ever paid those taxes, the IRS will not disclose.

Creditors foreclosed on his Long Beach home in 1964. He was evicted in January 1966. Within months, he moved to Chicago.

The Shaheens rented a $715 a month apartment on Chicago's near North Side in April 1966. Six months later, on Oct. 25, 1966, the couple filed a bankruptcy petition listing assets of $769 and liabilities of $5.3 million.

As a note on Shaheen's financial condition during the period he was in bankruptcy court, it is worth pointing out that the IRS later assessed him for $202,937 in additional income taxes due for 1966 and 1967.

Shaheen listed his taxable income for 1966 as only $640. That was the same year the Shaheen family lived in a $715 a month apartment.

As a further note on their financial condition at this time, Mrs. Shaheen bought $37, 746 in furniture and household goods in 1967 alone, according to papers filed in court by her own accountant.

While still in bankruptcy proceedings in Chicago, the Shaheens bought a house and two adjoining lots for $200,000 on Sept. 11, 1967 in Chevy Chase, Md., the most exclusive section of the nation's richest county.

Back in Chicago, the day after they bought the house, Shaheen's creditors met for the last time to evaluate the estate. As a result, the bankruptcy trustee filed a report two weeks later setting the net worth of Shaheen's assets at $5,379.

A New Career

Even before he was discharged from bankruptcy, however, money-broker Shaheen was already at work laying the groundwork for a new career in high finance in the nation's capital.

Shaheen met Lammot du Pont Copeland Jr. in the summer of 1967 when Copeland was having financial difficulty with a group of West Coast newspapers he owned.

Shaheen arranged a loan for the papers and then went on to help arrange financing for other troubled California investments of the young financier.

It was also in this period, according to Copeland, that Shaheen introduced him to Richard Horton, an ex-convict on parole, who once served time for his part in a 1960s bank scandal that sent a Brighton, Colo. Bank into insolvency. Copeland later hired Horton to help run the newspapers.

Shaheen and Copeland soon became partners, using a company called Winthrop-Lawrence Corp. as their vehicle.

As a kind of investment counselor specializing in high interest loans to troubled companies, Winthrop-Lawrence was quickly into dozen of projects, charging some ailing companies hefty fees, gaining control of others.

There was a modeling school in Atlanta, a technical school in Pascagoula, Miss., a trading stamp company in Tulsa, Okla., a trucking firm in Long Beach, Calif., a golf course in Galveston, Tex., and a toy manufacturer in New York.

Booming Business

There was also the contract, negotiated by Shaheen, to distribute five European-made motion pictures in the United States, some starring such well-known actors as Burl Ives and Jack Palance.

Operating out of a new office building in Chevy Chase, Winthrop-Lawrence became a magnet for financially-troubled businesses all over the country.

Aggressive, brash and with a flair for spending money, Winthrop-Lawrence seemed like a company on the way up. To dozens of banks it sought to arrange loans with over the next three years, any doubt about the firms legitimacy or stability was usually easily dispelled by a liberal sprinkling of the du Pont name.

If that wasn't enough, Winthrop-Lawrence never hesitated to display the impressive financial statement of Lammot Copeland Jr. showing the young financier, who was then supposedly striking out on his own, to be worth millions.

In the beginning, Lammot Copeland Jr. and Shaheen were equal partners. Shaheen's 50 percent interest was held by a company called Columbia Financial Corp. Evelyn Shaheen owned 85 percent of Columbia's stock.

Copeland personally took part in many transactions, but Shaheen actually ran Winthrop-Lawrence on a day-to-day basis from its Maryland offices. Copeland generally conducted business from his office in the Du Pont building in Wilmington, Del.

Barber's Fund

It was Shaheen who talked to dozens of small town banks around the nation lining up loans for Winthrop-Lawrence customers, guaranteeing that either Winthrop-Lawrence, or young Copeland, or both would pay the notes if their customers defaulted.

Shaheen also managed to channel capital into Winthrop-Lawrence in the late 1960s in the form of loans from the Journeyman Barbers, Hairdressers, Cosmetologists and Proprietors' International Union of America Pension Fund.

Shaheen had become an adviser to the fund when he lived in Chicago during his bankruptcy proceedings. After Winthrop-Lawrence got under way, Shaheen recommended that the Barbers fund loan money to Winthrop-Lawrence clients or to the corporation itself.

One such transaction involved a golf course and housing development near Fresno, Calif.

Shaheen arranged a $1.1 million loan to a developer of a 1,500-acre country club, for which Shaheen received a $97,951 fee. Additional fees to Winthrop-Lawrence and other Shaheen associates totaled $106,000.

Later, when the developer needed still more money, Winthrop-Lawrence loaned him $500,000 after Shaheen obtained a loan to Winthrop-Lawrence from the Barber's fund in that amount.

Missing Books

There were other loans and other consultant fees. By the summer of 1970, the Barber's pension fund was in financial trouble, with $3.5 million in Shaheen-recommended loans delinquent.

It was from the same Chevy Chase office building where Winthrop-Lawrence maintained offices, that Shaheen also operated Columbia Financial Corp.

Creditors of Winthrop-Lawrence and Lammot du Pont Copeland Jr. are still trying to determine the relationship between Columbia and Winthrop, a process complicated because most of Winthrop-Lawrence's books and records for its last year of operation were missing.

But Shaheen ran both companies, as former associate Max Block Jr., a New York lawyer, explained in one proceeding:

"Since Tom Shaheen was running Columbia and running Winthrop-Lawrence, wherever Tom Shaheen's brain was, that is where Winthrop-Lawrence and Columbia was."

One of the Columbia transactions involved an agreement Shaheen made with singer Vic Damone in 1969 that was supposed to bring Damone financial security. Instead, Damone wound up in bankruptcy.

Even though Damone earned from $300,000 to $400,000 a year by his own estimate, he was under pressure from the IRS in 1969 for payment of back taxes.

The IRS filed a lien of $21,246 against Damone's Beverly Hills house for additional 1965 taxes. Damone was able to raise $2,000, temporarily stopping the IRS from seizing the house. But revenue agents were pressuring him for the rest.

While Damone was performing in Los Angeles in March 1969, he said an acquaintance, Rudy Durand, whom Damone described as "one of those characters you meet in show business," introduced him to Shaheen.

Damone said Durand described Shaheen as "a financial genius" in charge of the affairs of Lammot du Pont Copeland Jr.

Damone said he and Shaheen talked over his financial problems that night and Shaheen agreed to help. Shaheen said he would put assets into a small Damone company called Vidam Corp.

Damone, in subsequent legal papers, said Shaheen told him Vidam would be built into a successful movie and record-producing company that eventually would sell stock publicly and bring Damone "financial security for the rest of his life."

Shortly afterward, Shaheen gave Damone a check for $19,000 covering his back taxes. Not long after that, Damone and his business manager flew to Washington to meet further with Shaheen. Damone later recalled the meeting:

"We had to wait an awful long time because he seemed to be very busy and very important, and I was quite impressed.

Puzzling Deal

"And then when we finally did see him, we discussed – he discussed his plan. He wanted to develop the Vidam Corp. that I told him about, and he wanted to make it a tremendous company, and he had plans."

Damone said Durand told him on April 4, 1969, that Shaheen had arranged for a $250,000 loan for Vidam from a Denver bank, and that Damone would have to go to Denver as a company officer and sign the necessary papers.

Damone, who said he left "everything in the hands of Mr. Shaheen," agreed and was joined by a group of Shaheen associates, including Shaheen's brother and brother-in-law, in executing the Vidam loan.

Damone said he signed all papers handed to him at the North Denver Bank that day. One check for $91,000, Damone said he thought was earmarked to pay his 1968 income taxes. But Damone was the first to admit he did not understand the transaction that took place:

"There were discussing things that really didn't include me in the conversation. I just sat there. They carried on, and I didn't really listen. I didn't really understand what they were talking about."

Then in August – four months later – Vidam's accountant told Damone Vidam was in trouble. Damone and his lawyer began to look into the company's affairs.

They learned that Damone's 1968 taxes had not been paid; that the money supposedly set aside to pay them had instead been deposited in the account of Shaheen's Columbia Financial.

Even worse, Damone learned for the first time, according to his own testimony, that Vidam – not Shaheen or his Columbia Financials – was the only signer to the Denver loan and that he – Damone – had personally guaranteed it.

An accountant who testified at Damone's bankruptcy proceeding said Damone personally received only about $7,500 of the $250,000 Denver loan.

The remaining $242,500, the accountant said, was paid either to Columbia Financial or disbursed directly by Vidam, then under Shaheen's control.

Damone filed for bankruptcy on July 12, 1971, listing debts of $784,137 and assets of $35,371. One of the debts was the loan from the North Denver Bank.

The singer was also under renewed pressure from the IRS for payment of back taxes. Revenue against had seized his 20-foot power boat, which he valued at $7,000, and his safe deposit box at a Beverly Hills bank which contained three rubber bands.

If Damone thought he had been duped, so did the Denver bank. In papers filed with the Damone bankruptcy, the bank accused Vidam of having submitted a false statement of assets to obtain the loan.

The statement said Vidam had a 5 percent interest in a European version of the movie "Uncle Tom's Cabin."  The statement estimated that the movie would have gross receipts of $10 million over the next three years.

Film Was a Dud

But "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which critics panned for its awkwardly dubbed Southern accents and other failings, turned out to be a box-office dud.

Rather than grossing $10 million, the movie grossed only $975,579 by November 1971.

By late 1969, cracks were appearing throughout the Copeland-Shaheen empire.

The California newspapers continued to run in the red. Dean Van Lines a California moving and truck company, went into bankruptcy. God Coast Institutes, the technical school in Pascagoula, had trouble meeting its payroll. Winthrop-Lawrence was short on capital.

But late in the year, Shaheen found out that he had far more serious problem developing than simply trying to maintain Winthrop-Lawrence's cash flow.

He learned, apparently in December – a full nine months before he liquidated assets and fled to Europe – that the Federal Government was investigating his financial activities for possible criminal violations.

In December 1969, a Federal grand jury in Chicago began investigating loans that Shaheen had recommended for the Barber's Pension Fund.

About the same time (the IRS will not say when) agents began investigating Shaheen's tax liability for previous years. Shaheen had listed his taxable income for 1968 – a year he administered two multi-million-dollar investment companies – as only $6,424.

Hire Law Firm

In January 1970, Shaheen hired the prestigious Washington law firm of Caplin and Drysdale, headed by former IRS commissioner Mortimer M. Caplin to represent him on tax matters.

Shaheen began to radically change his mode of operations.

Rather than running Winthrop-Lawrence's operations from Chevy Chase, Shaheen was more often in Europe. He testified later that he was lining up financing for Winthrop-Lawrence ventures.

On Feb. 1, 1970, the Shaheens signed an agreement with a real estate agent to sell their Chevy Chase house. He later said he knew the tax investigation was under way when the house was placed on the market.

Shaheen said the house was advertised for sale in Washington newspapers, with no effort made to hide that fact. But no immediate buyer was found.

On March 31, 1970, Ralph A. Muoio, a partner in the Caplin and Drysdale law firm, wrote a special agent of the IRS demanding that the IRS notify Shaheen in advance of any summons it might issue as part of the Shaheen investigation.

On April 28, he received a reply denying the request from Irving Machiz, the IRS district director in Baltimore, who wrote:

"It is our position that there is no legal provision, including administrative procedures, which requires that such notice be given by the service."

By July, revenue agents had issued summonses to banks in Washington and Chicago to examine records of Shaheen's accounts. Shaheen filed lawsuits to stay the summonses.

On July 24, the Shaheens signed an agreement with another real estate agent to sell their house. This time a buyer was found and settlement was held Aug. 3.

The sale price was $190,000. Of that Shaheen later said he received $100,000 clear, which he transferred to a Luxembourg bank. On Aug. 28th, he mortgaged two adjoining lots for $80,000.

Muoio, the tax attorney, filed a lawsuit on Shaheen's behalf on Aug. 21 in United States District Court in

Washington seeking a court order to force IRS to notify Shaheen of all summonses it might issue in connection with the agency's investigation.

At the same time Shaheen was filing lawsuits against the IRS, he was preparing to leave the country.

The house was already sold and the furniture packed. In late August, it was shipped by sea to England under the name of Joseph Rizkallah in case of the Lebanese embassy in London.

Shaheen later identified Rizkallah as his cousin, and explained that he shipped the furniture to the embassy because he thought it might get better care from movers than if it were simply shipped in the name of a private citizen.

Fly to London

The Shaheens temporarily moved into a $60-a-day suite in the luxurious Watergate Hotel in Washington – site of the now famous break-in – and ran up a $600 bill before leaving the hotel without paying.

On Sept. 4, 1970, Shaheen, his wife, and their married daughter, Donna Brokaw, flew to London from Boston to join John Barry Brokaw, who had flown to England about a week earlier.

Brokaw, a graduate of Georgetown Preparatory School near Washington, Amherst College and Catholic University Law School in Washington and a former officer of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, had been active with Shaheen in Winthrop-Lawrence.

The same day the Shaheens flew to Europe, his tax attorney in Washington got a call from a worried Department of Justice attorney, James Jeffries, who said the department feared Shaheen was fleeing the country to escape paying his taxes.

Muoio, the attorney, later testified that he then discussed the matter with Shaheen by telephone.

"He (Shaheen) said that he would prefer if they did not issue a jeopardy assessment against him and that if I thought it was necessary for him to come back to the meeting that we had scheduled for Sept. 8, that he would," Muoio said. "I told him not to come back for the Sept. 8 meeting and I went to the meeting in the district director's office myself."

Allays Fears

On Sept. 8, Muoio met with the IRS officials and Justice Department lawyers in Baltimore and tried to assure them that Shaheen was not fleeing the country.

"I asked them what we could do to allay their fears that Mr. Shaheen was not fleeing the country," Muoio testified.

"He told me he was going over there for business reasons, that he intended to come back, and I sure didn't want to see them come out with a jeopardy assessment."

Indeed, Shaheen did not want the IRS to issue a jeopardy assessment. Such a move immediately entitles the IRS to seize all of a taxpayer's assets – stocks, bonds, bank accounts, real and personal property.

At Muoio's urging, the IRS postponed issuing a jeopardy assessment against Shaheen on Sept. 8 for at least three days to give Shaheen time to post a $100,000 bond.

On Sept. 11, when Muoio reported that Shaheen would be able to post only an $80,000 bond, the IRS declined the offer and decided to issue a jeopardy assessment.

Finally, the IRS issued the jeopardy assessment the following Monday – Sept. 14 – in the amount of $151,031 for unpaid income taxes from 1966 through 1968.

The IRS later increased the assessment for those years by $301,430 for Shaheen's personal income taxes. Additional levies against Columbia Financial for $290,585 brought Shaheen's grand total of unpaid personal and corporate income taxes to $743,050, which it remains today.

Action Too Late

The IRS had acted too late on Sept. 14.

For that very same day, Shaheen placed his assets, which he said could amount to as much as $1 million, in trust with attorney F. Lee Bailey. The Boston trial lawyer had been representing Shaheen in connection with the Barbers' Pension Fund investigation.

Shaheen later testified he placed his assets in trust to pay Bailey's attorney's fees and any tax claimed that it might later be determined he owed the United States. Bailey's fees were to be paid first, he said.

The IRS refuses to discuss individual taxpayers, so only the agency knows why there was such an extended delay in filing a jeopardy assessment in Shaheen's case.

When questioned in general about the use of the jeopardy assessment, John F. Hanlon, assistant IRS commissioner for compliance, told Inquirer reporters that "a jeopardy assessment is made when we feel the revenue is in jeopardy.

"Say we make an investigation and we find a deficiency and we get word the taxpayer is liquidating his bank accounts and converting to cash. When this happens, we move in fast to preserve our assets."

In Shaheen's case, of course, the IRS did not move in fast at all. Rather, the evidence suggests the agency moved in the same casual way that it often does when dealing with upper income and corporate taxpayers.

Accused of Fraud

And as a result, Shaheen was able to shift all of his assets beyond the reach of the IRS agents.

The IRS did try to seize Shaheen's belongings when they arrived in England, but English courts ordered them released on the grounds that English law did not permit England to enforce the revenue laws of another country.

Within two months after Shaheen fled to Europe, Lammot du Pont Copeland Jr. and Winthrop-Lawrence filed for bankruptcy. Copeland listed debts of $62 million and assets of $25 million. Winthrop-Lawrence listed debts of $30 million and assets of $23 million.

Copeland charged Shaheen with "fraud and diversion of assets" in the Winthrop-Lawrence case.

An examination by bankruptcy officials of the corporations' books showed that $860,623 in checks for no specified purposes were written to Shaheen's Columbia Financial Corp. from December 1969 until he left the country nine months later.

Later, Shaheen admitted under oath he had accounts in Swiss and Luxembourg banks before he left the United States. But on the advice of F. Lee Bailey Shaheen refused to answer any more questions about those accounts or his other affairs on the grounds "it may tend to incriminate me."

But the Thomas Shaheen story and the futile efforts of the Internal Revenue Service to collect his taxes is not quite over.

After moving to Europe, Shaheen voluntarily returned to Chicago in April 1971 to face arraignment on charges growing out of the Barber's Union Pension Fund scandal.

Shaheen, Columbia Financial, Max Block Jr., a New York attorney associated with Shaheen in Winthrop-Lawrence and Columbia Financial, and Joseph De Paola, the Barbers Union president, were named in a 36-count indictment by a Federal grand jury in February 1971.

Shaheen was charged with conspiracy and soliciting and receiving kickbacks in connection with loans made by the pension fund.

Shaheen was arraigned the morning of April 2 in the courtroom of Judge Richard B. Austin in Chicago's Federal Building. The judge set the trial date for Oct. 4, and bond at $50,000, which Shaheen posted.

When Shaheen left the courtroom, he was confronted with the IRS's last effort to get his taxes.

The agency filed a civil lawsuit the day before in Chicago seeking a judgment of $452,534 in unpaid Federal income taxes.

Claiming that Shaheen would likely flee the country to avoid payment of his taxes, the IRS was able to obtain a temporary court order requiring Shaheen to post a $450,000 cash bond and to remain in the United States.

Sent to Jail

The papers were served, and a surprised Shaheen found himself on the way to the courtroom of Judge Julius Hoffman, of Chicago Seven notoriety, for a hearing.

Shaheen's attorneys argued against the order requiring him to post the huge bond and remain in the country, but Judge Hoffman was not persuaded and ordered Shaheen imprisoned in Cook County Jail because he could not post bond.

Six days later, after what Shaheen later called a "terrifying" experience, his lawyers succeeded in getting him released pending an appeal of the IRS court action.

On June 12, while Shaheen was still in the country, the Court of Appeals in Chicago refused to grant the IRS a permanent order requiring Shaheen to remain in the United States.

The court said the only justification for issuing the order requested by the IRS is that "the taxpayer's departure will frustrate the collection" of the taxes.

Stays a Fugitive

Shaheen, of course, had already liquidated assets in the United States. "The transfers identified in the record took place prior to the jeopardy assessment," the court ruled.

Thus, Shaheen returned to Europe.

During the spring and early summer of 1971, when Shaheen was in the country, he consistently maintained he planned to return to Chicago from Europe in the fall of that year to face charges in the Barber's Pension Fund case. "For my family," he said, "I intend to defend this."

But when fall arrived, Shaheen didn't. On Oct. 4, instead of appearing for trial in Chicago as scheduled, Shaheen sent a telegram to Judge Austin from Beirut, Lebanon, requesting a continuance.

Shaheen said he needed time to raise money for his defense and lashed out at the government's efforts to collect his taxes, referring to the "malicious and intimidating methods" of government agents.

Judge Austin immediately ordered Shaheen's $50,000 bond forfeited, and he was indicted for failing to appear in court.

A month later, at a related hearing, Judge Austin pictured Shaheen as a man thumbing his nose at the United States, living off a reported $7 million Swiss bank account, and as the major culprit in putting the pension fund of 50,000 barbers on the skids.

"The major con man, Mr. Shaheen, may, if he chooses, never leave Lebanon, never be brought back here for anybody to testify against," Judge Austin noted.

The judge was right.

Shaheen has not returned to the United States. His $743,050 tax bill remains outstanding. He is a fugitive from justice. And, the United States, with no diplomatic relations with Lebanon, has no way to reach him.