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Retail Gangster-  The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie

Author Gary Weiss discusses his new book Retail Gangster: The insane, real-life story of CRAZY EDDIE.  

For years during the late 70s and early 80s, the airways of the northeast were replete with ads promoting Crazy Eddie’s electronics stores where “the prices are insane.”  The Crazy Eddie character, played in the ads by an actor named Jerry Caroll,  was so well known that surveys found Crazy Eddie had better name recognition than Mayor Ed Koch or then President Ronald Reagan.

The real Crazy Eddie Antar built an empire of some 32 electronics stores stretching from Philadelphia to New England.  And once the company went public in 1984, it was a Wall Street darling.  But not for long. 

By 1989, the Company had filed for Chapter 7 liquidation and all of the stores were closed.  Eddie Antar – the real one as opposed to the Jerry Caroll character- had emulated mobster Meyer Lansky by attempting to escape extradition from Israel.  But he would ultimately be tried and convicted of 17 counts of fraud and ordered to pay some $121 million in restitution. 

You see, Crazy Eddie’s financial empire had been built on a foundation of fraud.  The myriad ways in which Crazy Eddie cheated customers and governments alike is laid out in fascinating detail in Gary Weiss’s new book, “Retail Gangster-  The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie.”  We are insanely lucky to have Mr. Weiss with us this morning. 

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