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PALM BEACH POST-FAMOUS NOE BROTHERS

The Palm Beach Post
Thursday, February 28, 2002


2 ELDERLY CONS COULD PAY FOR OWN EXTRADITION
John Pacenti Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Former Fort Myers prosecutor Louis S. Laurent II talks with a sense of awe of the exploits of renowned con siblings Paul Randall Noe and Clif Goldstein of Boca Raton.

"There is no organization or groups in the world who are as brazen as they are - the amounts of money they got involved in," said St. Laurent, who prosecuted Noe in the 1970s.

Now in private practice in Coral Springs, St. Laurent was in the federal courtroom Wednesday to see the duo in custody.

Looking more like they belonged on a shuffleboard court than in the courtroom, the two septuagenarians agreed to be extradited to South Carolina to face charges they tried to bilk a golf course entrepreneur there.

The brothers - Goldstein is 71, Noe is 74 - were told by U.S. Magistrate Linnea Johnson if they wanted to get to South Carolina by next week, they could pay their own way as well as the expenses of federal marshals.

"We would like to get up there as soon as possible so we can confer with attorneys there," Noe told Johnson.

Both men were still in the Palm Beach County Jail Wednesday night.

Noe did all the talking during the hearing because Goldstein, who changed his surname after getting out of jail in 1991, recently had a stroke, St. Laurent said.

The brothers, acting on behalf of a firm called Great American Trust Corp., told South Carolina golf course entrepreneur Mike Holland that they could get him a $200 million loan he would never have to pay back, according to an FBI complaint.

All he had to do was put up $50,000 for lawyers' fees.

"They've only scratched the surface," the former prosecutor said of the case against the duo.

St. Laurent told the FBI that some of his clients had dealt with Great American.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says the brothers bilked 25 investors out of more than $1 million through their suburban Boca Raton companies.

The brothers were first convicted in 1965 in Texas in an elaborate fraud involving several banks that was chronicled in a 1973 book called The Fountain Pen Conspiracy, later renamed Super Swindlers.

In 1982, The Wall Street Journal rated Goldstein one of the era's top con men, and in 1988, Fortune named him one of the 25 most fascinating business people and "one of the most notorious white- collar criminals ever."

In 1986, Goldstein and his nephew were arrested at the Philadelphia airport for trying to use counterfeit securities to buy a failing New Jersey insurance company.

The firm collapsed a year later in one of the largest insurance failures in the state's history.

Attorney Kenneth Stein represented both brothers in court on Wednesday.

When asked whether his clients' criminal past would hurt their chances in this case, Stein said, "I would hope not."