Real Life 'Wolf of Wall Street' Victim Pens Scathing Letter to Scorsese and DiCaprio
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Christina McDowell is a hell of a writer who has a hell of a story to tell. In a recent op-ed for the LAWeekly, McDowell tells about her very personal connection to the characters portrayed in "The Wolf of Wall Street," the just-released Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
You see, McDowell is the daughter of a man who went to jail on the testimony of the real-life wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, who agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for giving testimony against other crooked stock dealers. She begins her "open letter" like this:
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, dear Kings of Hollywood, but you have been conned.
And then goes on to explain her connection to the story:
Let me introduce myself. My name is Christina McDowell, formerly Christina Prousalis. I am the daughter of Tom Prousalis, a man the Washington Post described as "just some guy on trial for penny-stock fraud." (I had to change my name after my father stole my identity and then threatened to steal it again, but I'll get to that part later.) I was eighteen and a freshman in college when my father and his attorneys forced me to attend his trial at New York City's federal courthouse so that he "looked good" for the jury -- the consummate family man.
And you, Jordan Belfort, Wall Street's self-described Wolf: You remember my father, right? You were chosen to be the government's star witness in testifying against him. You had pleaded guilty to money laundering and securities fraud (it was the least you could do) and become a government witness in two dozen cases involving your former business associate, but my father's attorneys blocked your testimony because had you testified it would have revealed more than a half-dozen other corrupt stock offerings too. And, well, that would have been a disaster. It would have just been too many liars, and too many schemes for the jurors, attorneys or the judge to follow.
But the records shows you and my father were in cahoots together with MVSI Inc. of Vienna, e-Net Inc. of Germantown, Md., Octagon Corp. of Arlington, Va., and Czech Industries Inc. of Washington, D.C., and so on -- a list of seemingly innocuous, legitimate companies that stretches on. I'll spare you. Nobody cares. None of these companies actually existed, yet all of them were taken public by the one and only Wolf of Wall Street and his firm Stratton Oakmont Inc in order to defraud unwitting investors and enrich yourselves.
As an eighteen-year-old, I had no idea what was going on. But then again, did anyone? Certainly your investors didn't -- and they were left holding the bag when you cashed out your holdings and got rich off their money.
Clearly McDowell has much to work through in terms of her father's total betrayal of her and her family, but she also takes the filmmakers to task for making a movie that glorifies and glamorizes "the Wolf of Wall Street." Many many people were hurt by this glamorized characters, she points out. In fact, greedy actions like those portrayed in the film, and which take place in real life, leave widespread collateral damage and sometimes tank entire economies. She continues with her story:
So Marty and Leo, while you glide through press junkets and look forward to awards season, let me tell you the truth -- what happened to my mother, my two sisters, and me.
The day my father had to surrender to prison, I drove him. My mother had locked herself in the bathroom crying and throwing up, becoming nothing short of a more beautiful version of Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. Ironically enough, Marty, she looks like a cross between Sharon Stone and Michelle Pfeiffer. Totally your leading ingénue type. Anyhow, after my father successfully laundered money in my name, hiding what was left of our assets from the government in a Wells Fargo bank account, I arrived home to discover multiple phone calls from creditors and attorneys threatening to sue me. He'd left me in nearly $100,000 worth of debt. He left and never told me.