Most Avaricious Person, Place, or Thing: An allegedly greedy white-collar criminal
who got away with it
The best white-collar criminals know when it's time to cut bait and run like hell. That's exactly what John Banker, the 84-year-old Walnut Creek man accused of multiple counts of grand theft, appears to have done. In January 2005, Contra Costa County prosecutors filed charges against Banker, alleging that he concocted an elaborate real-estate fraud scheme that involved buying land and leasing it to PepsiCo, which at the time owned Taco Bell and other fast-food franchises. More than one hundred people fell for the alleged scam, handing over roughly $9 million in investment capital; one victim was so confident of the projected windfalls that he pledged $112 million in charitable donations to Saint Mary's College. According to prosecutors, it was all a lie, and Banker walked off with God knows how much cash. When the scam broke, he did the one thing most alleged criminals never do: He got the hell out of town, and neither he nor the money have been seen in more than a year. Authorities think he might be in Cancun. Perhaps he's hanging out with Oakland Riders fugitive Frank Vasquez.