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Wall Street Banker Pretends to Give to Charity

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In spite of the recession, 2011 was actually a pretty good year for charitable giving. A number of non-profits, including St. Jude and Save the Children, had a strong end to year, and some even broke holiday records.

The bump came for a number of reasons, including a mild winter. However, corporate campaigns, run by the likes of Domino's Pizza (DPZ) and Bank of America (BAC), seem to have had a major impact.

Whatever goodwill Americans were feeling this holiday most likely didn’t extend to Wall Street. Even if it did, the actions of a self-proclaimed financier (and convicted felon) should go a long way towards keeping the anti-Wall Street status quo.

According to the New York Times, after the brutal killing of Deloris Gillespie, Wall Street banker Darren Weingrow stepped in and offered her family $10,000 for funeral expenses. The trouble: It’s been six weeks and the money hasn’t come.

When asked, Weingrow has insisted, quite angrily, that he’s the victim of a number of reasonable mix-ups.

The problems began as soon as relatives arrived in New York. Gillespie’s daughter found herself at La Guardia, waiting for a car service Weingrow had promised would take her to her hotel. There was no hotel, or car service, but Weingrow did the right thing and invited the baffled woman to stay with him. She said no.

Things continued pretty much in this vein, with Weingrow insisting that he sent the money and the Gillespie family somehow never receiving it. Eventually, a few good Samaritans covered the majority of the costs.

Weingrow cuts something of a mysterious figure. He claims to work for a firm called BullBear Capital but no one there could be reached. He has also claimed to run a pretty much non-functional website called Basically the only concrete fact available about Mr. Weingrow -- other than that he has given no one $10,000 -- is that he was arrested in 2009 as part of a drug distribution ring.

The Gillespies believe that Weingrow’s offer was part of a publicity stunt but it is unclear what, exactly, he was trying to publicize. Maybe he thought he had the money, maybe he’s just crazy.

This not the best time for “bankers” and “financiers” to go looking for new ways to pull the rug out from under normal, hardworking people. Then again, maybe that was Weingrow’s point: to make Wall Street look a little more evil.

Meanwhile, Americans looking to give to charity -- and lower their taxes -- would probably be better off following Mitt Romney’s lead.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.