Smart Pants, Foolish Men
(“Mistaken for Dead,” Forensic Files)
The tale of how two sweatpants entrepreneurs and a friend used insurance fraud to bail themselves out of a financial hole was a five-star smorgasbord for any Forensic Files watcher.
The cast includes a brilliant doctor turned wicked, a two-timing male model, and a third accomplice who faked his own death and then (wait for it) got plastic surgery and hair transplants to change his identity.
“Mistaken for Dead,” the Forensic Files episode about the case, weaves a Hollywood-worthy tangled web, to be sure.
The story plays out as something of a glam precursor to the Molly and Clay Daniels debacle, except with better dental work.
Unfortunately, the sweatpants gang actually killed someone (Molly and Clay only robbed a grave).
A number of readers who commented on the “Mistaken for Dead” episode on YouTube mentioned having trouble keeping the plot and the characters straight.
So this week’s post will be a cheat sheet for the 1988 crime’s four principals:
Dr. Richard Boggs, age 55
Role: Killer and conspirator
Who: Respected neurologist with a Harvard degree, a Tudor-style mansion in Glenwood, California, and an ex-wife and kids.
Why: Boggs was secretly living in a financial house of cards. He needed money.
Participation in crime: Lured Ellis Greene to his office, then murdered him as part of an insurance fraud plan hatched with Gene Hanson and John Hawkins.
Gene Hanson, age 46
Who: Entrepreneur who co-owned a chain of 22 Just Sweats stores in Kentucky and Ohio with his lover and business partner John Hawkins.
Why: Just Sweats expanded too fast and was a financial disaster. Hanson wanted to disappear to escape responsibility for the business. He needed money.
Participation in crime: Faked his own death so his cohorts could collect $1.5 million in insurance payouts to be divided among him, Boggs, Hawkins.
John Hawkins, age 25
Who: Young David Hasselhoff lookalike who co-owned Just Sweats chain. Hawkins appeared in commercials for Just Sweats before the bottom dropped out of the business. He ultimately became the object of a three-year manhunt.
Why: Like Hanson, Hawkins wanted to escape the financial disaster engulfing the retail clothing chain. He needed money.
Participation in crime: Served as the bagman. He was the beneficiary of Hanson’s $1.5 million in life insurance policies. After Hanson faked his own death, Hawkins flew from Ohio to California, collected $1 million from one of the policies, and vamoosed.
Ellis Greene, 32
Who: Friendly accountant who lived in North Hollywood, California.
Why: One or two of the conspirators probably spotted Greene at a bar and realized he looked something like Hanson. Then, Dr. Boggs invited Greene to his medical office, assaulted him with a stun gun, and suffocated him. Dr. Boggs called 911 and said Greene’s dead body belonged to Hanson. That way, the three conspirators could get their hands on Hanson’s life insurance money.
Participation in crime: None. He was murdered by someone he thought was a new friend.
That’s all for this week. The next post will provide a timeline of the crime. Until then, cheers. — RR
Update: See the Just Sweats crime timeline.