CNBC News Releases

The Next Episode of CNBC's "American Greed" Airs Wednesday, March 12th at 9P & 12A ET

Jennifer Dauble
American Greed: Scams, Scoundrels & Scandals

The next episode of CNBC's unprecedented series "American Greed," which focuses on how greed change's people's lives, airs Wednesday, March 12th at 9PM & 12AM ET.

In this one-hour special episode, CNBC tells the story of Barry Watson, a high school valedictorian and University of Michigan student, who moves to Washington D.C. where he lands a job as a junior account executive with the prestigious stock brokerage firm E.F. Hutton. Despite Watson's bogus resume, he becomes relatively successful at the firm, but as Watson's portfolio grows, so does his greed. Watson begins breaking the rules, stealing from his clients, selling fraudulent stock and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of his largest clients, the Gottleib family, discovers the fraud and presses charges. Watson skips town and flees to San Francisco, where he was apprehended one year later. Watson pleads guilty to mail fraud and is sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay $230,000 in restitution.

Once out of lock up, Watson moves to Grand Rapids, Michigan where he establishes a computer networking business called WS Services with partner, John Straayer. But his relationship with Straayer begins to fall apart after he meets his wife-to-be, Krista Kolarz. Watson changes the company name to CyberNet Engineering and puts all records of ownership in Krista's name. Straayer soon discovers Watson has been cooking the books, taking hundreds of thousands for himself--Straayer severs ties with the Watsons. CyberNet begins boasting multi-million dollar earnings and quickly becomes a world-wide leader in value-added resellers--but the company also holds a world of lies and deception.

A veil of secrecy falls over all things financial and Watson and his executive team use intimidation as an effective tool in silencing employees who start asking questions. What Watson's band of bullies has set in motion is a massive, $120 million fraud, where earnings are hyper-inflated by falsified financial statements and a slew of shell companies and millions are spent on Watson's first-class lifestyle. Watson's scheme came crashing down in 2004 and disgruntled employees can't wait to see their leader have his day in court. But their expectations were soon squashed when Watson determines his own fate and pulls the trigger on his 20-gauge shotgun. He leaves his wife and the other CyberNet executives to face the music.

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