HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut authorities were working Thursday to confirm Steven Hoffenberg, convicted Ponzi schemer and mentor to Jeffrey Epstein, was the person found dead in an apartment earlier this week.
Derby Police Lt. Justin Stanko said evidence at the scene – including a car, mobile phone and medical records – all pointed to the person being Hoffenberg. But the body could not be immediately identified due to an advanced stage of decomposition, and authorities were awaiting confirmation of dental records, he said.
Stanko said it appears the person has been dead for at least seven days. An initial autopsy was inconclusive, but determined there were no signs of trauma. The cause of death was pending toxicology test results.
“There’s nothing that shows it’s not him,” Stanko told The Associated Press.
A private investigator for a woman who identified herself as a victim of Epstein’s sexual assault called police and requested a social check at the multi-family home on Tuesday, saying the woman had not heard from Hoffenberg for five days and was unusual, police said.
Officers drove to the house and were able to see the body by looking through a first-story window, Stanko said. Derby is approximately 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of Bridgeport.
It was not immediately clear when the check of dental records would be completed.
Hoffenberg, 77, who once tried to buy the New York Post, was sentenced in 1997 to 20 years in prison for one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in the country. He admitted to defrauding thousands of investors out of $460 million. He was released from federal custody in 2013, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Hoffenberg, however, later claimed Epstein was the “architect” of the scam, in a 2019 interview with The Washington Post. At the time of the scheme, Epstein worked for Hoffenberg’s bill collection company, Towers Financial Corp. Epstein, however, was never charged with fraud.
Epstein death by suicide in a New York federal prison in 2019 awaiting trial on allegations that he sexually abused dozens of girls.
Hoffenberg briefly took over the New York Post in 1993 while offering to own it. The Post reported that Hoffenberg funded the paper for three months and saved it from bankruptcy. His efforts to buy the paper were thwarted by allegations of civil fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission which led to criminal charges in the Ponzi scheme.
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