The big bad wolf is back.
Jordan Belfort is being accused of withholding money he owes in restitution for a fund set-up to compensate the victims he defrauded out of over $200 million during his time at Stratton Oakmont.
Lawyers for the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York said in court on Wednesday that Belfort, who became a household name when he was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film adaptation of his memoir The Wolf of Wall Street, had pocketed $9 million he made doing speaking engagements between 2013 and 2015.
That money would go a long way towards paying back the $97.5 million he still owes to the victims’ fund, having paid off less than $13 million in the decade since his release from prison.
Belfort was taken in by the FBI in 1999 and later entered a guilty plea on charges of fraud and other related crimes involving stock-market manipulation after a years-long investigation into his business practices.
Laissez-faire: A federal court hearing on Wednesday addressed the payments being made by Jordan Belfort (above in March of last year) to the fund set up to compensate his victims
Swing it round like a helicopter: Belfort became a household name when he was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film adaptation of his memoir The Wolf of Wall Street (above)
Judge Ann Donnelly sided with the US Attorney’s office and informed Belfort’s lawyer that a payment schedule needed to be set up to account for the ‘spare change’ the deadbeat stockbroker had forgotten to turn over.
Belfort was not present at the hearing as he was delivering a paid speech in Lithuania according to his website.
He did post to Twitter a few hours after the hearing, writing: ‘Always keep in mind when pushing boundaries to control your downside risk so you’ll always have enough in reserve to produce your own million dollar product.’
That was likely not the message the judge in the case was looking to see from the defendant.
‘Sorry to interrupt his busy schedule He’s going to have to come here so we can get a grip on what’s going on,’ Judge Donnelly toldBelfort’s lawyer, Sharon Cohern Levin.
Fortune was the first to report on the hearing.
There has been much huffing and puffing on both sides ever since Belfort was released as to how much of his earnings should be subject to garnishment for ther fund.
The US Attorney’s office stepped up their pursuit of Belfort’s earnings last year by issuing a Writ of Continuing garnishment last year to try and seize some of his disposable earnings.]
Belfort paid approximately $700,000 in the three years following his release and then made no payments in 2010,
In total he has paid back $12,824,372.34 over the past decade, and still owes $97,538,621.53 to the fund, which only represents half of the money he swindled from his clients.
A good deal of that money comes from the $11 million that was seized by US Marshalls at the time of Belfort’s arrest.
Belfort has tried to have the venue for his ongoing hearings changed to the Central District of California, where he now lives.
He has also disputed claims about his inability to pay back money he owes victim, and at one point had his partner Anne Koppe submit a letter to the court extolling his commitment to righting his wrongs.
Then, in 2014, he pleaded his case on Facebook, writing: ‘For the record, I am not turning over 50 percent of the profits of the books and the movie, which was what the government had wanted me to do. Instead, I insisted on turning over 100 percent of the profits.’
That garnered a very quick response from a spokesperson for then-US Attorney Loretta Lynch.
‘Belfort’s Facebook comments are substantially inaccurate,’ said the press rep for the Eatern District of New York.
‘The government has seen nothing to suggest that even 100 percent of Belfort’s profits from his book and the movie Wolf of Wall Street would yield, in his words, ‘countless millions,’ much less the approximately $100 million that is still owed to the victims.’
Blase blast: Belfort was not at the hearing but did post to Twitter, writing: ‘Always keep in mind when pushing boundaries to control your downside risk so you’ll always have enough in reserve to produce your own million dollar product’
It was also revealed at that time in court papers that the government was forced to very aggressively pursue the publisher of Belfort’s book and studio behind the film to get a portion of the money being paid out to the crook.
Belfort has claimed many times, including during a famously contentious interview on Piers Morgan Live, that he has never profited from the book or the movie, and that he has paid much more towards the restitution than was required.
‘I am not making any royalties off the film or the books, and I am totally content with that. My income comes from new life, which is far better than my old one,’ Belfort wrote on his Facebook page on December 29.
‘For the record, I am not turning over 50% of the profits of the books and the movie, which was what the government had wanted me to do. Instead, I insisted on turning over 100% of the profits of both books and the movie, which is to say, I am not making a single dime on any of this. This should amount to countless millions of dollars and hopefully be more than enough to pay back anyone who is still out there.’
Stratton Oakmont made a fortune by using deceptive, high-pressure tactics to peddle penny stocks at inflated prices to first-time buyers.
After artificially pumping the value up, Belfort and others would dump their own shares before prices crashed.
As a result, Belfort and his posse made a tidy fortune in no time, and drew intense scrutiny form government watchdogs
Belfort was eventually arrested and in 1999 entered a guilty plea on charges of fraud and other related crimes involving stock-market manipulation.
As part of his plea deal, he agreed to become a government witness in a case against an accountant and other stock fraud defendants accused of cooking the firm’s books and funneling money into a bogus holding company and overseas bank accounts.
In 2003, after a broken marriage and battling a drug addiction, Belfort was sentenced to three and a half years behind bars and ordered to chip away at the $110 million restitution by giving 50 percent of his future earnings to the government.