American Greed Episode 41: A Most Generous Criminal

Case File

A Most Generous Criminal

  • The Con
  • McLean is managing millions for his satisfied clients. He claims to invest their money in his own name and offers unsecured promissory notes with returns of 10 to 20 percent. It's a highly unorthodox arrangement. But, the investments are not only unusual — they are illegal.
  • Living The Dream
  • The once low-profile investor now shouts success. He owns million dollar homes and rides around town in his own chauffeured limousine. He's a philanthropist…donating millions to his favorite causes including the Country Music Hall of Fame. McLean's spending is out of control.
  • Tragic Tale
  • The limelight fades. Investors become suspicious of a scam. A bank calls in a loan. The U.S. Attorneys Office lays out its criminal case. For McLean and his victims, the worst is yet to come.

Web Extras

  • mcLeans_steinway_piano_450.jpg

    Robert McLean was a trusted financial advisor and a celebrated philanthropist, running a successful investment firm and donating millions to his favorite causes. But McLean had a dark, devastating secret.

  • This is a promissory note between Robert McLean and Ron Vannatta for 20% per annum interest on $1.35M. Mr. Vannatta’s address has been redacted as has his client account number and the fax number at the bottom of the document. (Source: Government exhibit)

  • This is the Interim Report of Trustee Prior to §341 Hearing for McLean’s involuntary bankruptcy suit filed in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. It details how Mr. McLean spent funds from January 2002 through July 2007. Some individuals’ names have been redacted as has the contact information for bankruptcy trustee Robert Waldschmidt. (Source: US Bankruptcy Court case document)