Weirder than fiction
Leslie Tyler Fink's socialite connection in oil kickback scam is headed forreality TV
Is it good news or bad news for self-proclaimed socialite Leslie Tyler Fink?
Jonathan Barnes, her personal Daddy Warbucks and the financial clout behind the RSVPSocial party website, where she initially gained notoriety, has been indicted on fraud charges in an oil-trading kickback scheme. The gifts that Barnes bestowed on LTF and her family are detailed in court records.
The posh Galleria-area townhouse where episodes of her yet-to-be-aired reality TV series were filmed, her swell Bentley and sparkly jewels that light up her cocktail wardrobe were listed in the indictment.
And that's just part of a juicy cache of riches obtained by the accused and detailed in the indictment. Also included are a stable of Mercedeses, various properties, a Cadillac once owned by Frank Sinatra and jewels from DeBeers, Zadok and Valobra. Say goodbye to those goodies.These are, according to the indictment, subject to forfeiture on conviction.
Barnes, Clyde Meltzer and Bernard Langley were charged on 12 counts of mail and wire fraud in a scheme to defraud millions of dollars from LyondellBassell by overcharging for shipping fees for Venezuelan oil.
Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. In response to our query, the ever-creative LTF wrote in an email, "Drama right?! The reality show is still a go. This is going to be one of the episodes for the show."
Fink's attorney Dan Cogdell told the Houston Chronicle that his client has cooperated with investigators and has returned any property that was requested. “Leslie never suspected that Mr. Barnes was engaged in any criminal wrong doing, nor did she have reason to,” Cogdell said.
In some ways, the scandal could only enhance LTF's profile on the fringes of the reality TV world. Notoriety is notoriety.
She had toyed with the idea of a Real Housewives of Houston role. But that series seems to have died on the vine and LTF is off and running on her own. A segment of Jerseylicious was filmed in her home (the one that is not subject to forfeiture according to LTF). She's partied with Snooki and the Kardashians and was invited to the Golden Globes.
"So many opportunities have been coming since appearing on Jerseylicious," she e-mailed. "I was asked to do Texas' first reality show on glamour and myself and have since started filming for it three weeks ago."
"The housewives would have been all negative drama and this new project concentrates on me and the glamour and beauty of Texas, inside the galas, glamorous parties plus much more."
Add one real drama episode to the package — the entanglement with an accused white collar criminal.
Fink is also working on a fitness video that reveals her secrets and techniques for dropping 25 pounds of baby weight in just six weeks. She had her third child in November and is proud to point out that she is already back in her size 2 party frocks.