Not Josh Gould, but this is what he does these days.
These days, Joshua David Gould
of University City dances in a Statue of Liberty costume to lure customers toward an income tax preparer. But the 31-year-old Orthodox Jew knows how to sing, too. To the feds, that is.
Gould, a former securities broker for Woodbury Financial Services
, recently came clean to authorities and admitted to stealing millions of dollars from dozens of his coreligionist clients over the past two years. (The total may be around $4 million, according to several sources.)
Gould is also the son-in-law of Jonathan Spetner
, the well-respected third-generation operator of Spetner Associates
, a local insurer).
No federal charges have been filed yet against Gould, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith
isn't talking. But records show the Missouri Commissioner of Securities
is looking into him.
And now the young man's attorney, Al Watkins
, acknowledges that in the late fall of 2010, Gould "self-reported his crimes" to investigators and is "fully cooperating."
But why did he do it? The answer, Watkins says, involves enough intrigue for a 90-minute movie.
Albert S. Watkins, attorney representing Joshua Gould
Gould grew up in Milwaukee and arrived in St. Louis in 2002. Within a
couple years, he was working for Jon Spetner, whose daughter, Temima, he
Gould badly wanted to impress his father-in-law
and provide his new wife with the standard of living she'd grown up
with, as Watkins tells it. So when a pair of businessmen offered the
young man a large chunk of change to invest in mid-to-late 2007, Gould
jumped on it.
However, that money -- which eventually added up to
$1 million -- had come from a third party, who was promised a high rate
of return. Gould invested, but didn't make enough to fulfill that expectation.
So first, he raided his family trust, of which he was a
trustee. Then he started skimming off the accounts of the clients he'd
picked up as a broker for Woodbury Financial, for whom he'd begun
working in October 2008 (this was separate and distinct from his
employment at Spetner, records show).
"He was robbing Moishe to pay Saul," says Watkins.
Watkins acknowledges that Gould did much more than that: He enriched
himself too, using the stolen money, for example, to remodel his kitchen
and pay the mortgage on his Amherst Avenue home, which sits in the
Orthodox neighborhood of west University City.
dropped "tens of thousands" in east-side strip clubs, Watkins confirms,
but hastens to clarify: Gould was majority owner of at least one online
sports ticket broker called The Sports Nook
Says the attorney:
was entertaining people that were going to help him in the Sports Nook
and also potential clients for his financial clients. Let's not pretend
that my guy was wearing a nun's habit while this was going on, but at
the same time, do not assume the tens of thousands were spent for his
own gratification. This was atypical behavior of a desperate man."
was desperate for money from The Sports Nook, Watkins explains, because
his work at Woodbury wasn't meeting the demands of the middle men who'd
provided him that load of investment capital back in 2007.
When Gould suggested they all
admit to the man who'd originally put up the money that Gould couldn't
meet his end of the bargain, the middle men made "an
explicit threat against his life and safety," Watkins insists.
Watkins declines to
identify these middle men. But he does say they were "perpetrating a
much bigger fraud" in "an unrelated segment of the financial industry,"
and his client, Gould, helped the government's investigation into that.
Jonathan Spetner, father-in-law of Joshua Gould
, the lawyer who represents Gould's father-in-law, Jonathan Spetner, tells Daily RFT
that his client feels "terrible" about what's happened. Spetner knows
many of the victims, and is trying to help them recoup their losses by
appealing to Woodbury Financial, which is a subsidiary of The Hartford Financial Services Group
has responsibility for what their representative does," Klein says.
"They're a fine company. We hope that they will make these people whole.
The hope is that it won't require litigation."
Woodbury Financial has not responded to several requests for comment.
of the individual victims have filed a civil suit against Gould.
However, one of them did submit a written complaint to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
, alleging that the broker stole almost $700,000 from that victim's account alone.
says of Gould: "This is a young man who for the first time in over two
years is able to wake up without living beneath the shroud of one lie
upon another. He has deep personal remorse and a religiously-based
commitment to doing right for those people from who he has stolen."