With his X-shaped trading desk at Drexel Burnham Lambert and his legendary deal-making, Michael Milken was at the epicenter of the 1980s junk bond market. He was also at the center of that era's biggest scandals.
In 1989, Milken was charged with 98 counts of racketeering, securities fraud, and other crimes—at the time the largest criminal case in Wall Street history. He ultimately agreed to plead guilty to six criminal charges and pay $600 million in fines. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison (later reduced to two.)
Milken was released from prison after 22 months and shortly afterward was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although he has been banned for life from the securities business, he is a philanthropist and sponsors the closely watched Milken Global Institute Conference.