Arkansas Business' 25 Outlaws, Scoundrels & Posers (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Kane even sued his lawyers in 1993, claiming he was promised 10 percent of the $2.3 million settlement with Worthen. One of his lawyers, Ted Skokos, described the unsuccessful suit as a shakedown, noting that it was filed six years after the settlement.

But our favorite is the 1985 U.S. Tax Court ruling that disallowed $29 million in tax breaks in western Arkansas coal mining ventures organized by Kane. The IRS said the operation, set up in 1976, was designed solely to generate paper losses for investors in the 50 percent federal income tax bracket.

4 .Doug Brown
It was the nearest thing to a snake oil pitch we'd ever seen when Doug Brown and his Superior Marketing Research Corp. medicine show rolled into North Little Rock's Riverfront Hilton on Feb. 5, 1986.

Brown was hawking a self-cooling beverage can, a gas-filled apparatus that instantly chills a drink by releasing carbon dioxide when the top is popped. Shares in the penny-stock venture soared from $2.75 to more than $7 in the days following his dog and pony show.

Problem was the cool-can wasn't the next sliced bread, and Brown's claims that firms like U.S. Steel, Alcoa and Pepsico loved the innovative product were so much fizz.

Oh, the cool can worked. But the prototypes cost $100 to produce by hand and $20 to refill. Corporate America had rejected the concept as impractical as early as 1946, but Brown conveniently left that history out of his presentation.

5. Ray McClain
We're not sure what it is about Arkansas, and the Ozarks in particular, that has given rise to dreams of Disneyesque theme parks. Ray McClain was one of the first dreamers.

McClain was attempting to raise $35 million for the purported launch of his 650-acre White Winds project near Gateway (Benton County). One of its five themed areas was the Wizard of Oz.

"White Winds will be a brand new world ... a pristine, magical city 'way up high,' beyond all space and time ... It is not without significance that L. Frank Baum's Oz is also the first two letters of Ozark, an enchanted area rich in folktales, magic, and witches."

It also is not without significance that Baum advised us to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain and watch out for winged monkeys. Arkansas Business busted out McClain on his unrealistic financial statements and false claims of support from legitimate consultants and more in our Aug. 4, 1986, issue that pondered: "$400-million theme park for Ozarks? Not likely."

6. Collins Locke & Lasater
The Little Rock investment firm of Collins Locke & Lasater (aka Cocaine Ludes & Ladies) was a poster child for the go-go '80s in Arkansas.

The firm was blown apart during a four-year cocaine investigation that produced jail sentences for its namesake partners: David Collins, 24 months; George "Butch" Locke, 15 months; and Dan Lasater, 30 months.



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