Trevor Cook, 37, pleaded guilty on April 13, 2010 to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, followed by up to three years of supervised release.
Trevor Cook attended high school at the Minnehaha Academy, a private Christian school. As a teenager, he worked as a caddy at the prestigious Minikahda Club, where he met wealthy members who presumably influenced his career. Reminiscent of Caddyshack, Cook won an Evans Scholarship, awarded to caddies at private golf courses, and in 1990 enrolled at the University of Minnesota.
He was known for being a party animal and spent huge sums on booze, luxuries and strippers, and for a short time employed a former exotic dancer as his assistant.
"He just was an absolute partyer," former University of Minnesota roommate, Jason Sullivan recalled. "There was one occasion where he actually woke up at night and urinated all over six pairs of my shoes." [Star Tribune]
Cook graduated from the U of M in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in applied economics and jumped headlong into the rarified world of investment banking. By 2007, he was running his own money management firm and wooing new clients by inviting them to investment seminars at his new office, the 117-year-old Van Dusen mansion. He paid $2.6 million in cash for the historic home.
According to federal regulators, Cook spent lavishly on:
- exotic cars
- a $9,000 exercise machine
- elegant watches
- jeweled eggs made by the House of Fabergé during the late 1800s and early 1900s
Cook regularly patronized strip clubs, often times dropping more than $10,000 in a single night. He hired former stripper Itona Onoue as his administrative and sexual assistant. She eventually left saying,
"Because I know what's going on at the castle," Onoue said, "like his hard-core parties, like his drinking, to like the dancers and then the prostitutes and stuff like that. And I didn't want to be involved in that." [Star Tribune]
A stripper didn't want to be around this guy.
In June of 2009, Cook's luck finally ran out. The SEC and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission filed parallel lawsuits in late November accusing him of running a Ponzi scheme, which led a federal judge to order the seizure of Cook's assets -- including the land in Panama. Regulators say at least $130 million in investor funds was lost, and they want Cook to say what happened to more than $35 million that seems to have vanished. [Star Tribune]
Despite the charges, Cook still believes that he represented his clients well.