Medical examiners confirmed Friday that convicted Ponzi schemer and Jeffrey Epstein mentor Steven Hoffenberg was the person found dead in a Connecticut apartment earlier this week.
Hoffenberg, 77, is believed to have died at least seven days before his body was found Tuesday in Derby by police, who responded to a request to check on his welfare, authorities said. He had to be identified through dental records because of the decomposition of his body, police said.
His cause of death is pending toxicology test results. An autopsy showed no signs of trauma, and there were no indications of a struggle or forced entry at the apartment, officials saiid,
Epstein, the disgraced financier who killed himself in a New York jail in 2019 while awaiting trial on allegations he sexually abused dozens of girls, worked for Hoffenberg’s bill collection company, Towers Financial Corp., in the late 1980s, when prosecutors said the Ponzi scheme began.
Hoffenberg, who once tried buying the New York Post, ended up getting busted in one of the country’s largest frauds. He admitted he swindled thousands of investors out of $460 million and was sentenced in 1997 to 20 years in prison. He claimed Epstein was actually the architect of the scheme, but Epstein was never charged.
He was released from federal custody in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. It was not immediately clear how he ended up living in a small apartment in a multifamily home in Derby, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of Bridgeport.
Gary Baise, one of Hoffenberg’s friends and lawyers and a former acting deputy U.S. attorney general, said Hoffenberg and Epstein had a “special relationship” and Hoffenberg said Epstein was the smartest person he knew when it came to money.
Baise said Hoffenberg also was very intelligent, which may have contributed to his downfall.
“He was too smart for his own good,” Baise said in a phone interview Friday. “He thought he could get away with his Ponzi scheme but he could not. He did not have self-control. He always thought he was smarter than the next guy and that was one of his problems. ... But he was a good man.”