For years Cliff Popper, financial wheeler dealer, pleaded in his defense that he was being made a scapegoat for the nation’s sub-prime loan crisis by ambitious regulators who failed at their jobs to police the volatile industry.
The charismatic South Florida trader, who rode the crest of the housing boom by popularizing risky investments in mortgage pools, defended himself at his federal civil fraud trial in November in West Palm Beach.
But before the judge could give his decision, Popper killed himself this week, his body found on Tuesday in his oceanfront condo in Highland Beach.
The death of the flashy broker who symbolized the nation’s mortgage craze is the latest chapter in the government’s case against him and others accused of wiping out the finances of people in investments that defined the country’s economic crisis: speculative mortgage-backed securities.
Lawyers for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission argued Popper was the architect of a program that misled people into pouring their life savings in investments that collapsed with the home market. In all, 1,000 people lost more than $100 million.