Real Name: Edward Maurice Barbara
Aliases: Ed Barbara
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: 1988
Details: Edward Maurice Barbara was born in the 1930's, and obtained an Eighth grade education in Brooklyn. His father died when Barbara was young. Ed moved to California and started working as a television repairman. By age 26, he was a millionaire with his furniture stores located in San Francisco Bay Area known as Furniture USA.
In 1984, he started prospecting for gold; in 1986, he purchased a gold mine in New Mexico. He sold stocks to various individuals and businesses. Ed Barbara became an influential man in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He told investors that he would be able to find $93 million worth of gold from the dirt in the mine, using a special technique. He claimed he would share this wealth with investors in his holding company, Dynapac. One shareholder was prominent San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli. Belli signed a positive testimony that helped recruit even more investors.
Within months, Dynapac's value doubled, and then quadrupled. At one time, Barbara was worth over $136 million. During this time, one investor, Ruby Gullo, wanted to cash out some of her shares. However, he promised that he would return all of the money she invested if something went wrong. The Security Exchange Commission investigated the company. He invited financial analysts to New Mexico so that they could see the operation first-hand. He even showed them the creation of a pyramid of solid gold.
On March 24, 1985, the SEC allowed Dynapac back on the stock exchange. However, some were not convinced that his operations were legitimate. What was not known was that the pyramid shown to the analysts was actually 99% copper. During this time, an investigation began, head by the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources. They found irregularities in Barbara's mining; they suspected a scam was occurring.
In 1986, Barbara hired geologist David Fingado to confirm his extravagant production figures. David, however, could not find much, if any, gold at the site. He was certain that a scam was occurring. David quit and was thrown off the premises by Barbara. David was concerned about his safety and the safety of his family. However, the authorities did not take him seriously. David went to the national news to expose Barbara's scam. Barbara, however, claimed that he was lying.
Five days after the interview, and two days before the segment was to air, David Fingado died in a car accident. Although the circumstances of the crash were suspicious, his death was ruled accidental.
A few weeks after the interview, Barbara disappeared with his investors' money and started a furniture business in Canada. From there, Ed again allegedly took customer money and came back to the U.S. and was caught in Lebanon, Oregon, in 1987. From there, he was extradited back to New Mexico. In July 1988, he was convicted of fraud and racketeering. Because of his influence in New Mexico, the authorities let Barbara out on his own recognizance thus allowing him to go on the run again.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the December 13, 1989 episode.
Results: Solved. On April 20, 1990, Barbara's wife Candace Inmon voluntarily surrendered to authorities. During a court appearance, she produced medical documents which indicated that Ed Barbara had died of cancer in Tampa, Florida four months earlier. He apparently had been selling credit cards and living under the name "Norm Peterson". Authorities investigated her claim and found no evidence to indicate that he was still alive.
Inmon pleaded guilty to one felony count and was sentenced to 280 days in jail. She was forced to forfeit her $45,000 bond in order to pay a $5,000 fine.
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- Melvin Belli on Find a Grave