Backstreet Boys and *N sync founder Lou Pearlman dies in prison aged 62

Creator of boybands had been sentenced to 25 years after admitting $300m fraud through Ponzi scheme

Figures from the pop music world have paid tribute to Lou Pearlman, the founder of Backstreet Boys and *N Sync, who has died in prison aged 62.

Pearlman was serving a 25-year sentence for a $300m (£229m) fraud.

He created the Backstreet Boys in Florida in 1993, uniting five unknown singers – Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie D, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell –who went on the become the bestselling boyband in history with more than 130m records.

Pearlman replicated his success in 1995 with *N sync, the band that helped to propel Justin Timberlake to stardom.

Timberlake tweeted on Sunday:

I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.

— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 21, 2016

The *N Sync singer Lance Bass tweeted: “Word is that #LouPearlman has passed away. He might not have been a stand up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today without his influence. RIP Lou.” The US singer Aaron Carter also paid his respects on Twitter.

#LouPearlman my old manager died in prison... Rip Lou not the best business guy really at all but he did discover me karma is real

— KiD CaRTer (@aaroncarter) August 21, 2016

Ashley Parker Angel, a member of the boyband O-Town, which was formed from the first season of Pearlman’s MTV show Making the Band, posted a picture of Pearlman with the group.

Love him or hate him, Lou gave many of us our start. It's a shame he let greed get in his way. #RIP #LouPearlman

— Ashley Parker Angel (@ParkerAngel) August 21, 2016

It emerged in 2006 that Pearlman had run a $300m Ponzi scheme through his Trans Continental companies. The music mogul, nicknamed Big Poppa, fled to Indonesia but was arrested the following year.

In March 2008, at a court in Orlando, Florida, Pearlman admitted defrauding thousands of people and about 10 banks out of hundreds of millions of dollars over two decades.

Lou Pearlman with members of Nsync
Pearlman with *N sync members, including Justin Timberlake, at a pizza restaurant in New York in 1995. Photograph: Mark Weiss/Getty

“Yes, sir,” was Pearlman’s response, as the US district judge G Kendall Sharp ran through the admissions in a 47-page plea deal drawn up by prosecution and defence lawyers. That agreement prevented a lengthy trial.

Two months later, Sharp sentenced Pearlman to 25 years, forcing him to swap his 16,000 sq ft Florida mansion for an 8ft by 16ft cell.

Many of the victims of the scam were Pearlman’s relatives, friends and retired people in their 70s and 80s, Sharp said. The judge told Pearlman that he would reduce the sentence by one month for every $1m that the music mogul returned to those he stole from.

In a short courtroom statement, Pearlman said: “Over the past nine months since my arrest, I’ve come to realise the harm that’s been done. I’m truly sorry and I apologise for what’s happened.”


Chris Johnston and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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