A Florida thief with a peculiar penchant for Rolex watches faces up to 25 years in prison.
Leonardo Perez has pleaded guilty to charges he stole eight gold Rolex Presidential edition watches, each worth $50,000, over four months in 2007. The crime spree began just after Perez finished a 17-year sentence for stealing Rolexes in South Florida.
The 36-year-old Miami native is so loyal he even has the Rolex logo tattooed on a forearm. Investigators say he’s been able to glimpse and follow drivers wearing the watch from the other side of the road.
Perez was supposed to be sentenced Thursday in Orange County, but the hearing was delayed.
He primarily found victims out shopping, followed them home and robbed them at gunpoint.
Of all the items set to go on the auction block this week at a midtown Manhattan hotel, there’s one that would take some mettle to wear in public: A satin New York Mets baseball jacket emblazoned with the name “Madoff.”
The jacket – valued at between $500 and $700 – is among hundreds of pieces of jewelry, clothing and other personal effects once owned by disgraced financier and vanquished Mets fan Bernard Madoff and his wife, Ruth.
Madoff, 71, was sentenced in June 2009 to 150 years in prison for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme that spanned decades. The property will be sold to raise money for his victims. Gaston and Sheehan Auctioneers Inc. held the auction Nov 10, 2009 at the New York Sheraton.
Though thousands of investors with Madoff’s once-respected advisory firm believed their securities accounts were worth tens of billions of dollars, he never made investments and instead siphoned new investors’ money to pay returns to existing ones – and to fuel a life of luxury.
Madoff’s punishment included a forfeiture order that stripped the Madoffs of nearly all their wealth. The order gave the U.S. Marshals Service authority to seize and sell his homes, boats, cars and other personal property.
The smaller-ticket collectables on the list of sale items include stationery with Bernard and Ruth’s names printed on it; flatware engraved with the initials “RMB”; and a wallet embossed with “BLM.” There’s art, golf clubs and fishing rods. Also a cache of designer purses – Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada – valued at hundreds of dollars a piece and antiques that range into the thousands.
It’s clear Madoff had a taste for wildly expensive wristwatches, especially Rolex. A half dozen Rolexes are available, including one listed as a “vintage Rolex O.P. ‘Monoblocco’ chronograph,” also known as – yes – a “Prisoner Watch.” Estimated value is $75,000 to $87,500.
The Mets jacket carries its own special meaning: Team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were among the victims of Madoff’s fraud. Earlier this year, his season tickets behind home plate at the new Citi Field were auctioned for $38,100 on eBay.
Heiniger, 58, who took over from his father in 1992, is to leave to “pursue personal projects,” the group said.
Rolex, founded in 1905 and famous for its expensive watches, gave no details about a replacement but said Heiniger would remain as an advisor to the group.
Swiss newspaper Egefi linked Heiniger’s departure to the Bernard Madoff scandal in the United States, but the report published Wednesday was denied by Rolex.
Egefi claimed Rolex might be a victim in the alleged 50-billion-dollar fraud by Madoff and this had shown Heiniger’s willingness to take high risks.
The group is privately owned by the Geneva-based foundation Hans Wilsdorf and declined to comment further.
The new Action Express Racing team showed up at Daytona International Speedway this week simply looking to take its new engine for a test run.
What a run it was.
Joao Barbosa powered the team to the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona title Sunday, finishing an improbable victory in the organization’s first appearance in the sports car endurance race.
“I think we would agree,” teammate Ryan Dalziel said, “we didn’t come into this thing thinking we had a realistic shot.”
Neither did anybody else.
The team avoided major mechanical problems and benefited from a late blunder by star-studded Chip Ganassi Racing to win by about 50 seconds. No one else was within four laps of the lead.
Ganassi’s Justin Wilson was leading before he made an ill-advised stop into the garage late, believing something was wrong with the No. 01 BMW Riley. The crew didn’t find anything, and the difference was too much for teammate Scott Pruett to make up in the final two hours.
“It all happened so quick,” Wilson said. “You don’t have time to think. You just have to react.”
The group that has dominated the race recently could only watch as it lost to a team with few sponsors that, weeks ago, didn’t exist.
“What can I say? I’m out of words,” Barbosa said. “The teammates, the crew, they did a great job. Action Express rocks and it’s going to keep going through the year.”
The group was formed in the offseason after Brumos Racing cut back to a one-car team. That prompted longtime Brumos affiliate Bob Johnson to assemble Action Express Racing, bringing some crew and drivers over.
“This is amazing,” Johnson said minutes before the finish. “I can’t even begin to describe it.”
The move paid off quicker than anyone expected.
Barbosa, Dalziel, Terry Borcheller and Mike Rockenfeller deftly guided the No. 9 Porsche Riley through a rain-soaked start Saturday that caused cautions and spin outs for much of the field. They avoided accidents and poor pit stops that pushed so many others behind, and they didn’t succumb to the pressure in the final hours.
“I think as a new team to come here, I think it’s a huge accomplishment to our crew,” Dalziel said. “A lot of these guys only came together at the start of January.”
Ganassi had three straight wins in the prestigious endurance race until finishing second the last two years. The biggest blow it took in this one was self-inflicted.
Wilson pulled the car into the garage with about three hours remaining after he said he heard a popping noise. Crew members scurried to find a problem, losing the lead and falling behind by a lap.
“I heard a loud clank and the car kind of whacked,” Wilson said. “I thought I’d blown a front tire or something like that, and being so close to the garage, I figured I’d pull it in.”
That was the second disappointment of the race for the favored Ganassi team.
Ganassi’s No. 02 car retired in the early morning hours because of engine failure. Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Jamie McMurray had led a combined 139 of the opening 247 laps.
Then suddenly, stunningly, they were out.
“I did well at times and I struggled at times,” said McMurray, who lost some ground before Montoya took the wheel back and the engine failed. “I didn’t want to be the guy who runs the car off and messes it up for everybody else.”
Holding off Ganassi made the victory even sweeter for Action Express Racing.
To beat the best so fast in a race that’s so long, there was no room for mistakes. From weaving through the 3.56-mile road course that encompasses about three-fourths of the NASCAR track, to fast pit stops and accelerating on the straightaways, Action Express did it better for longer than anybody.
Playing spoilers was fun, too.
As Dalziel deadpanned moments after passing off the driver’s seat for the final time, “Nobody wants to see Ganassi win again. Somebody different needs to win.”
It was “one race, one chance” today at US SAILING’s 2010 Rolex Miami OCR, the second of seven stops of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2009-2010. After gold, silver and bronze medalists were determined yesterday in three Paralympic classes, it was now the turn for sailors in ten Olympic classes to claim podium positions, but the plot came with a twist. Just as will happen at the Olympics in 2012, only the top-ten finishers–determined after five days of fleet racing–earned the right to sail in today’s single medal race for each class, except for in Women’s Match Racing. In that event, which makes its Olympic debut in 2012, sailors competed in finals and petit-finals to determine medalists.
About US SAILING’s Rolex Miami OCR:
Established in 1990 by US SAILING, the Rolex Miami OCR annually draws elite sailors, including Olympic and Paralympic medalists and hopefuls from around the world. In non-Olympic/Paralympic years, the regatta is especially important as a ranking regatta for sailors hoping to qualify for the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, which annually distinguishes the top sailors in each Olympic and Paralympic class.
For fleet racing in the Olympic classes, the 2010 event will consist of a five-day opening series and a double-point medal race. The top ten finishers in the opening series of each event will advance to the medal race. Competitors in the Paralympic classes will have five days of fleet racing and no medal race. For match racing, which makes its debut in the 2012 Olympic Games, the regatta will consist of an opening series, a knockout series, and a sail-off for boats not advancing to the knockout series. Medals will be awarded to the top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic event on Saturday, January 30.
Regatta Headquarters will be located at the US Sailing Center Miami, an official Olympic training center, in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Fla. Event organizers have partnered with the city of Miami to provide world-class venues for competition. Additional hosts for the event include Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Miami Rowing Club and Shake-a-Leg Miami. These sailing organizations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club also hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
About Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc.
Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America’s Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including supporting the US Sailing Team, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, and offshore, one-design and women’s events. In 2010, Rolex will sponsor over 20 prestigious yachting events globally, including the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex Capri Sailing Week, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race and the New York Yacht Club Race Week presented by Rolex.
Sources: Sailing.teamusa.org and rmocr.ussailing.org
For much of the Rolex Series Grand Prix of Miami’s first 2 ½ hours, Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 01 car was a quarter-lap faster than the field.
In the race’s final 13 minutes, it only needed to be a quarter-second quicker.
But it took some nimble — and partially blind — driving by Scott Pruett to survive a late caution and capture the Daytona Prototype crown at Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 11-turn, 2.3-mile road track.
Pruett, driving the anchor stint for Ganassi teammate Memo Rojas, dominated most of the Grand-Am Rolex Series stop’s second half.
But a nine-minute caution to remove debris erased the BMW’s sizable lead, forcing Pruett to hold off a pesky challenge by David Donohue and the No. 59 car. After the restart, Donohue stuck like adhesive to Pruett’s backside.
Ultimately, Donohue was never able to pass. The Pruett-Rojas team took the checkered flag by .255 seconds over Donohue and Darren Law; reigning DP season champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney were third.
“David kept me so honest, it wasn’t even funny,” Pruett said. “I was happy for the fans [when the yellow came out]. I knew it was going to be good.”
Added Donohue: “I tried and tried and tried, and nothing worked. I could just never get close enough.”
The yellow flag was far more costly for the leaders in the Grand Touring classification. The No. 70 team of Sylvain Tremblay (Coral Springs) and Jonathan Bomarito lost the lead for good when Miami’s Jeff Segal blew by on the third turn of the restart.
Segal and SpeedSource co-driver Emil Assentato captured the GT title, beating out second-place finishers Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis.
“I think our car was a little bit stronger,” Segal said. “We were able to hang onto the tires better than the 70.”
Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey and teammate Joe Foster never really found traction and finished seventh in GT, 21st overall.
For Pruett, it was the 23rd Daytona Prototype victory of his sterling Grand-Am career, and DP title No. 10 for Rojas, who was fortunate merely to make it through the first lap without penalty.
Rojas spun out Brian Frisselle, who started the event third, in the second turn. The move sent Frisselle and Michael Valiante’s No. 6 car to the back. They ultimately finished 10th.
“I’m inside of Rojas and he turns me,” Frisselle said. “We had a car to win today. I’m really disappointed in the officials for not penalizing him. If that’s not a penalty, I guess I can do that to him in the next race.”
Responded Rojas, hours later: “Without seeing the replay, I wouldn’t want to comment. I didn’t feel like I took him out. I knew he was mad at me.”
That wasn’t the evening’s lone controversy.
With the late-afternoon starting time, the race stretched into the night for the first time in its 11-year history at Homestead. As the sun dipped completely beyond the horizon, the cars’ headlights came on.
And when dirt kicked up all around the track, visibility was spotty, to say the least, in certain areas. Afterward, drivers lamented the lack of lighting — and that they didn’t have the chance to run on the course after dark earlier in the week.
“There were a few apexes we couldn’t get right,” Pruett said. “It was really dangerous. We really need to fit in some sort of night practice.”
Despite the poor conditions, the race’s only caution didn’t come until the 113th lap due to debris in turns four and eight. It couldn’t have come at a better time for Donohue, who was able to make up a 12-second deficit without even trying.
The top five cars were on the lead lap when the caution was called, setting up the frantic finale.
Lindsey Vonn, one of the US Winter Olympic Team darlings, won her first medals ever at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Vonn won her Women’s Downhill race and collected gold, but only managed bronze in her Super G race. In her Super G race, Vonn faulted herself for making the mistake of easing up on the bottom half of the course and giving away the gold. Vonn also failed to finish 3 of her 5 races, but is still thrilled to have earned her two medals. ”Five gold medals was never my goal. Of course, I wanted to try. And looking back, four medals were very realistic,” Vonn said. “But nothing goes the way you want it to. Nothing’s ever perfect.”
However, Vonn has a very bright future ahead of her. Her tenacity and skill are why she generated so much hype before the 2010 Winter Games. She won the past two World Cup overall titles and is on pace for a third. NBC focused so much of its Olympics promotions on Vonn, and Sports Illustrated put her on the cover of its Vancouver preview issue.
And, Vonn has also scored in the way of endorsements. Rolex has recently named Vonn as one of it’s newest spokespersons and along with Hermann Maier, two of the most popular skiers in the world are now representing Rolex watches.
Interesting note: Vonn is pictured on Rolex.com wearing a 34mm Midsize Special Edition Datejust watch with Pearlmaster bracelet in white gold with diamonds (Ref: Rolex 81339). However, in photos of her in Vancouver, she is shown wearing a 36mm Rolex Datejust with diamond dial and diamond bezel (Ref: Rolex 116244). Below, Hermann Maier is shown wearing the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss with black dial (Ref: Rolex 116400) .