Texas businessman and con man Billy Sol Estes dies at 88

May 15, 2013 at 1:47 AM
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DECORDOVA, Texas, May 15 (UPI) -- Billie Sol Estes, a flamboyant Texas millionaire businessman who wound up in prison multiple times for fraud, has died, his daughter said. He was 88.

Pamela Padget said her father was found dead Tuesday morning at his home in DeCordova, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Estes spent a total of 11 years in prison after being convicted three times, including once for his scheme to parlay non-existent anhydrous ammonia fertilizer tanks into collateral for millions of dollars in loans, the newspaper said.

Through the years, Estes mixed with the politically powerful, including President Lyndon Johnson, the Star-Telegram said.

Estes co-authored a book in 2003 that was published only in France titled "JFK, le demier temoin" ("The Last Man Standing"), in which he implicated Johnson in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Estes grew up on the family farm near Clyde and claimed to have become a millionaire by the time he was 21 by selling surplus military barracks and surplus wheat.

Mike Cochran, a longtime news reporter who became a friend, said Estes was "very much a scoundrel."

"He told me more than once, 'You can shear a sheep every year, but you can't skin him but once,'" Cochran said. "And, of course, the idea was, he'd keep scamming and scamming people, but he didn't want to do the grand deal that would end his scheme with them."

Estes and his first wife, Patsy, who died in 2000, had five children. He married his second wife, Dorris, in 2003.

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