The Great Facebook Caper

Stratos_ThumbThe pitch seemed irresistible: Here was a chance to connect with a money man for billionaire Carlos Slim. But the supposed financial whiz, who called himself Ken Dennis, wasn’t who he said he was, authorities now claim. In truth, he’s Troy Stratos, and he’s now standing trial in a bizarre fraud case that provides a glimpse into how money and influence flow through Silicon Valley.

Nigel Jaquiss, Oregon’s One-Man Fourth Estate

The reJaquisssignation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber on Friday is another pelt on the wall for Nigel Jaquiss, a Goldman Sachs oil trader turned muck-raking journalist. Jaquiss, 52, works at Willamette Week, the free alternative weekly in Portland where he reported on allegations of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s influence peddling. From that modest perch, Jaquiss also won a Pulitzer Prize, in 2005, for exposing long-hidden sexual assault by former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, the godfather of Oregon politics.

Trading Facebook, from Jail

FB_ThumbTroy Stratos, a failed music producer and screenwriter, wasn’t going to let confinement in a California jail stop him from getting in on the Facebook Inc. craze. While awaiting trial on charges that he stole at least $7 million from the ex-wife of actor Eddie Murphy, Stratos tried to broker a private sale of 40 million shares in the social-networking company before it went public.

From Skiing to Terror Software

Edra_ThumbEdra Blixseth has come a long way since she and her husband, Tim, declared bankruptcy in rain-soaked Roseburg, Oregon, in 1986. He traded timberland. She had owned a chain of four restaurants called Choo-Choo Willy’s. Today, Edra lives in a 30,000-square-foot (2,800-square- meter) mansion on an estate near Palm Springs, California, called Porcupine Creek. The house, complete with servants, is surrounded by a private golf course.

“The Nuke” Goes Down

Kinnucan_ThumbFor 11 years, John Kinnucan was a stock analyst, digging information out of low-level contacts in the computer industry and selling it to clients. Then in October two FBI agents dropped by his three-story house and home office in Portland, Oregon, threatened to arrest him for “engaging in improper research” and asked him to secretly tape a conversation with a fund manager they were targeting. Kinnucan refused.

The Man With the Heated Dog House

Matthew Hutcheson, who advises companies on their retirement plans, told Congress that managers of the $3.2 trillion in U.S. 401(k) plans should adhere to “the highest ideals of society.” He didn’t follow his own advice.

Troy Stratos Lives Large

Stratos_ThumbTroy David Stratos, self-described movie producer and music impresario, was peeved. The limousine that had come to pick him up from his hotel in Switzerland was white, not black. Rather than sort it out himself, he called his assistant back in Vancouver, Canada, where his company, Next Level Media, was based and where, at the time, it was 3 a.m. “White limousines are for drug dealers and weddings,” Stratos told her. Get me a black one.

Maid-Turned-Realtor Rocks Vegas

Mazzarella_THumbEve Mazzarella was a Las Vegas success story. The high-school dropout and former maid moved to the Nevada city in 2000 from Seattle, got a certificate from the ABC Real Estate School and started selling houses in what would become the hottest market in the country. Then the law caught up with her.

Dani Chiesi Trades from the Inside

Chiesi_ThumbDanielle Chiesi spent a lot of time in hotel ballrooms and bars during the past decade. As an analyst at New Castle Funds in New York, she was a regular at conferences on technology stocks, where she could get face time with executives and press them on how many microprocessors and how much software they were shipping. U.S. authorities say she crossed the line in her quest for trading profits.