American Greed

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Sidney Poitier, Norman Lear and Henry Mancini

Sedgwick and Bacon weren't the first or the most famous celebrities to ever be duped financially. In the early 1980s, two Wall Street brokerages allegedly pulled off a huge tax-shelter fraud, taking more than $600,000 apiece from 88 investors, including (left to right) actor Sidney Poitier, television producer Norman Lear and composer Henry Mancini.

In late 1983, Sentinel Government Securities and Sentinel Financial Instruments were charged with the largest criminal tax fraud at that time in US history, allegedly supplying their investors with more than $130 million in income tax write-offs without actually buying or selling any government securities.

Though unaware they were claiming questionable deductions, the Sentinel customers benefited significantly from their "investments." Lear deducted $1.8 million on his 1980 federal return, and Poitier wrote off $657,184 that same year.

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