The Grifter

Smooth-talking stockbroker Roger Turner came across as a good Christian man--one who made it his business to charm widows and retirees out of their life savings

He acts stung by claims that he somehow curried favor with widows--escorting Bennet to the symphony, sending long-stemmed roses to Palfi--in order to separate them from their money. "I love these people, and whatever their claims are, I'm adding insult to injury whenever I bring up the other side of the story. And I don't want to do that."

Yet he can't seem to help himself.
"One of my most favorite people is Bonnie Bennet," he continues. "She didn't want to know anything about what was being done. I don't care what it was. Her basic responses were 'I'm just trusting you to do the right thing.' And I erred in that."

Turner says that his acts of kindness are now returning to haunt him and that the truth has been "twisted."

Crandall suggests that Turner is delusional. "Lying comes very easy to him, and I'm not even sure he knows the difference between a lie and the truth," she says. It shows a "very depraved person who would behave the way he did when Tommy Smith was dying."

"That's another one that was an outright lie," says Turner, who claims he never stole money from Smith while the elderly man was on his deathbed. "Those transactions we happened to do were already pre-documented in a plan that we had laid out [years] earlier."

Turner claims that if only he would have had another 45 to 60 days, he could have come up with the money and made his clients rich--and they would be calling him a genius. Then he's quick to confess he violated their trust, maybe pushed the envelope and did some things he shouldn't have. "When you are on a limited budget and every dollar counts," he tries to explain, "you can't afford to give $50,000 to an attorney to draft up all the proper documents...

"My zeal for what I was trying to accomplish overran some more prudent things that I wish I would have done." He says that during the times when he was moving investments around and putting money directly into operations instead of seeking occasional legal counsel, he never believed he was committing fraud.

If Roger Turner did manage to siphon off his clients' money, hiding millions in some offshore accounts, fooling the federal government while he serves his 34 months and makes plans with his wife to live out his days on some Mediterranean island, then he just may be smarter than the rest of us--the master criminal Jeanne Crandall claims he is.

But if he actually believes that his problems were due simply to his being undercapitalized or not receiving high-priced legal advice, or that if he could only have bought more time, he would have been hailed as a hero and made fortunes for his investors--then this con man has--for all these years--also been conning himself.

Kay Vinson is a former investigative news producer with KDFW-Channel 4. She is presently a freelance writer based in Albuquerque.

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