10 Greediest People in America
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Jeff Wasserman
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Butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. You won’t find any of them in this latest annual list of America’s most avaricious. You will find wheelers and dealers and even a candy store heiress.
The headlines haven’t been particularly kind to America’s most relentlessly greedy over the past year. In just the last month alone, the world’s two most visible religious leaders — Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama — have once again dramatically denounced our global concentration of income and wealth. And the world’s most powerful political leader, Barack Obama, has chimed in, too.
The impact on America’s super rich — and super-rich wannabees? Not much. They haven’t even deigned to slow their grabbing.
At Too Much, the Institute for Policy Studies weekly on excess and inequality, we’ve been taking names. Lots of them. The greediest of them all? We think we can make a good case for the ten below. We hope you’ll find some useful insights from our choices — and maybe even some fresh new incentive to help make our world a more equal place.
10. Angela Spaccia: Pint-Sized Pilfering
We start this year’s top ten with garden-variety greed, the sort that inevitably grows in the shadows of escalating grand fortunes. In that shade, people in positions of modest power and authority regularly — and clumsily — try to emulate the avaricious high and mighty they see all around them.
In Bell, a small Los Angeles County working class community, that modest power and authority once belonged to Angela Spaccia. As Bell’s assistant city manager for a seven-year span that ended in 2010, Spaccia helped stuff hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of the city’s top officials, including herself. Spaccia in one year alone took in $564,000.
Prosecutors eventually caught up with Spaccia and her pals. Her boss, the Bell city manager, cut a plea deal in October to 69 corruption charges. He pulled in $1.18 million in his most lucrative year. Spaccia chose to go to trial instead, claiming she did nothing illegal.
“Everyone’s greedy,” her defense attorney argued in November. “There’s no crime in taking too much money.”
Jurors disagreed. Last week, they found Spaccia guilty on multiple counts of criminal behavior, including one misappropriation of public funds designed to pump $15.5 million in pension checks to Spaccia and her boss.
9. Dylan Lauren: Sweet Squeezer
They don’t come more suave and sophisticated than Dylan Lauren, the only child of billionaire designer Ralph Lauren. Or more ambitious either.
Not for Dylan the empty heiress life. Over a decade ago, she opened up her own business, a luxury candy emporium on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where moldings atop display cabinets mimic dripping chocolate and a cocktail bar offers Gummy Bear martinis.
“Dylan’s Candy Bar” would go on to become wildly successful, expanding into Miami Beach, Los Angeles, and the Hamptons, all the prime watering holes for America’s super rich.
Things today could hardly be peachier for the young Lauren. She has by her side a totally smitten hedge fund manager husband. Maybe even better, the 39-year-old has realized the life’s dream she’s had ever since she first saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the ripe old age of six.
“I just wanted,” as Dylan gushed recently, “to live in a world full of candy.”
Dylan’s employees, meanwhile, would be satisfied with a world where they could just make ends meet. Workers at her Manhattan flagship store have been protesting their meager $8.50 hourly compensation and management policies that make sure employees never work enough hours to qualify for overtime pay.