In the late 1980s, a man named Arthur Abba Goldberg was busy making a unique name for himself on Wall Street. The man some saw as an “investment guru” was known as “Abba Dabba Do” and “Abba Cadabra” in honor of his investing skills. Turns out those skills were not so much mad, as they were fraudulent.
In 1989, Goldberg pled guilty in federal court in California and Illinois to three counts of wire and mail fraud, and conspiracy to defraud the United States. The accusations he admitted to include his participation as the engineer of a phony bond and investment scheme, which netted his Wall Street investment firm nearly $11 million in illegal fees.
The U.S. Attorney who handled the case at the time, K. William O’Connor, told the court at his sentencing that Goldberg’s crime was “a fraud of spectacular scope.”
Seems Goldberg, and his investment firm Matthews & Wright, sold some “$2 billion in fraudulent municipal bonds for communities ranging from the impoverished city of East St. Louis to Chester, Pennsylvania, to the West Pacific U.S. territory of Guam.”
Goldberg was sentenced to 18 months in prison, five year’s probation and fined $100,000. U.S. Attorney O’Connor, who prosecuted Goldberg, spoke harshly of his crimes:
K. William O’Connor described Goldberg as having engineered “a conspiratorial fraud of spectacular scope,” which purposefully duped “unsophisticated Pacific Islanders.” One witness against Goldberg said he treated the citizens of Guam as if “they were cannibals.”
O’Connor said that Goldberg’s deceitfulness crippled Guam’s economy, crushed investors, undermined public confidence in the bond industry, and cost the U.S. Treasury millions in lost taxes.
An investigative report by South Florida Gay News and Wayne Besen’s group Truth Wins Out have brought Goldberg’s past into the limelight because Goldberg has come back into the spotlight – this time as the leader of a Jewish ex-gay group known as JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality).
“His diabolical past mirrors his dishonest present-day work with the ex-gay industry. Whether it was shady deals on Wall Street or shading the truth on gay issues, Goldberg is someone who lacks credibility and can’t be trusted,” Besen said in a press release.
It’s more bad news for the “ex-gay” industry that has, for years, sought to make money, and headlines, selling a “cure” for homosexuality. Denounced by the American Psychological Association, the movement relies on questionable research by discredited professionals like Paul Cameron who was expelled from the APA in 1983. The “ex-gay” track record of “curing” gays and lesbians is so dismal that most of the organizations like Love in Action no longer promise heterosexuality to those “struggling” with homosexuality but instead promises help to “deal with temptations successfully when they arise.”
But, perhaps the “ex-gay” movement is the perfect home for someone like Goldberg – who was revered on Wall Street as the “Abba Cadabra” magician who could muster wealth out of thin air. For too many gay and lesbian people desperate to believe the lies of the “ex-gay” industry, Goldberg’s magic may again be no more than fraudulent “hocus pocus” that will rob them of them not just of their financial wealth, but their spiritual wealth as well.