Investigator nailedwall St. swindlers
Helped to convict Ivanboesky for insider trading
As an investigator for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Stanley Whitten hunted down Wall Street swindlers who were part of multi-million-dollar investment scams.
He was involved in the prosecution of Ivan Boesky, a notorious stock trader who made a fortune off insider trading in the 1980s, and spent years tracking Thomas Quinn, the ringleader of an international scheme who eluded authorities for decades with aliases and fake passports.
Mr. Whitten also aided Evel Knievel when the motorcycle-riding stuntman fell victim to fraud. As a to- ken of appreciation, Knievel painted a picture of ducks and gave it to Mr. Whitten, a former Northbrook and Highland Park resident.
“Stan is one of the best investment fraud investigators,” said Ed Kohler, who works for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “He understood the industry very thoroughly and was able to investigate just about any kind of allegation of securities fraud.”
Mr. Whitten died from complications related to blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease on Nov. 13 in Madison, Wis., where he had been living the past few years. He was 76.
Mr. Whitten began his career as an investigator in 1974 in Washington, D.C., and was transferred in 1978 to Chicago, where he remained until retiring in 1995.
A former stock broker, Mr. Whitten had a good nose for detecting market manipula- tion, according to Tim Warren, associate regional director of the SEC’S Chicago office.
Known as a dogged investigator, Mr. Whitten once delivered a subpoena at a hospital to a perpetrator who was on his way to the operat- ing table.
Dealing with “white-collar criminals” was sometimes dangerous. A witness of his was once shot and killed while standing next to him in an elevator, according to his daughter, Cosmas Skaife.
“It was a difficult job,” said his brother, Leslie H. Whitten. “He went after sleazy but intelligent criminals. Stan was real smart. He was able to nail them.”
In his free time, Mr. Whitten created crossword puzzles that were nationally syndicated and published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times and Washington Post.
“There were a lot of sides to Stan,” Kohler said. “He prided himself in being a cruciverbalist.”
Sometimes he would design crossword puzzle clues for certain people and surprise them when they saw the paper. An elderly wom- an once asked for an autographed crossword puzzle, so Mr. Whitten learned more about her life and created a puzzle just for her.
“It just made it so special,” said his daughter. “My dad had never met this person in his life, but he did this for her.”
In 1991, Mr. Whitten appeared on the television game show “Wheel of Fortune” and won three days in a row, earning $14,850 and a car. He ended up in a legal battle with the IRS after deducting on his tax return travel expenses and other items related to the trip, claiming they were “wagering losses.” Mr. Whitten eventually lost the case.
Mr. Whitten “liked to play lawyer” and had previously taken the bar exam in California just to see if he could pass, and he did. He hung the certificate in the employee restroom at work.
“He was always with a sense of humor and always joking around,” said his daughter.
A native of Washington, D.C., Mr. Whitten was born Feb. 2, 1935. He graduated from Cornell University in 1957 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
He served in the U.S. Navy for three years as the chief engineer aboard the USS Nicholas, stationed in Australia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
In 1963, Mr. Whitten married Rose Marie Mcnerney, a one-time teacher. Later in life the two loved to travel and spend time at their vacation home in Florida. She preceded him in death.
Mr. Whitten is survived by another brother, Harvey; two sons, Burt and Lewis; another daughter, Mary, and four grandchildren.
Services have been held.