Just Sweats Gang Cheat Sheet

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
Role: Conspirator
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
Role: Conspirator
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
Role: Victim
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.

7 thoughts on “Just Sweats Gang Cheat Sheet”

  1. Hello RR: I recall this interesting episode. It shows that Boggs made some silly errors for a clever man which raised police suspicion and without which the perpetrators may have got away with it. Time and again viz insurance fraud — a common theme on FF — it’s largely foolish errors that trip up — though I’m not suggesting that such fraud wouldn’t be difficult otherwise.

    If I recall, Boggs’ errors were such like calling police to his surgery in the early hours of the morning — why was he seeing a patient at that time? And demonstrably having left the corpse there for hours before doing so, as well as trying the same method of overpowering the victim with a taser on a previous intended victim — who reported it to the police — shortly before. Did he not think that person might have reported him?

    As you say, a smorgasbord of outrageous behaviour, foolishness, excess, drugs, men (not women this time — Boggs was gay), and greed.

    One of the more engrossing episodes!

    1. So true — boggs really didn’t think it through. Maybe he figured he had such a pristine reputation that no one would question anything he said or did. Or maybe desperation and greed deducted a few points from the good doctor’s IQ.

  2. No matter how bright anyone is, it’s impossible to think of everything. An episode from the long-ago sitcom “Car 54, Where Are You?” comes to mind. A gang pulls off what seems to be the perfect crime, disguised as police and seemingly no detail overlooked. The thing that they never could have thought of: They committed the caper on the day when police switched from winter to summer uniforms. Fiction, of course, but instructive nonetheless.

  3. I didn’t see this episode of FF, but was living in Columbus, Ohio, when the case broke. Not sure if this was on the show, but in the news at the time, Hawkins had pulled an insurance scam by renting expensive furniture, insuring it (slack insurance company?), returning the furniture, reporting it stolen, and collecting the money. He got away with that one, and I’m guessing that was revealed by an associate of the gang post-Ellis-Greene-Xing. Hawkins was bisexual, and would rope victims of both gender into his scams. Boggs may have used a stun gun or taser, but the newspaper story claimed he had rigged an electrocardiogram gizmo to shock the victim to death. Hanson and Hawkins were well liked in the community. I wondered for years what became of Hawkins, will have to see the episode for particulars on when and how he got caught. Very pleased to find this story here and on FF. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the 411 on this! Interesting to hear that Hanson and Hawkins were well-liked, considering what they went on to do. Maybe the furniture rental scam was a gateway crime. Yikes and then Boggs’ killer electrocardiogram — talk about bad hombres.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *