|William Magear Tweed (April 3, 1823 – April 12, 1878) became the most notorious player in New York’s history of public corruption. Tweed was convicted for stealing an amount estimated by a committee in 1877 at between $25 million and $45 million ($ 550m to $ 1.1b in 2017 dollars) from New York City taxpayers through corruption, although later estimates ranged as high as $200 million. |
Unable to make bail, he escaped from jail once, but was caught. He died in the Ludlow Street Jail.
|Although he wasn't a lawyer, Tweed's friend, Judge George G. Barnard, certified him as an attorney, and Tweed opened a law office. He used his law firm to extort money, which was then disguised as legal services. He had himself appointed deputy street commissioner – a position with access to city contractors and funding.|
Tweed's goup garnered huge profits from the development of the Upper East Side.
|They would buy up undeveloped property, then use city resources to improve the area, after which they sold and took their profits. Tweed's downfall came after the city's records were closely examined, and it was discovered money went directly from city contractors into Tweed's pocket. The following day, Tweed was arrested. He was released on $1 million bail while his friends were fleeing, many going overseas. Tweed tried to flee as well but was recognized from his many cartoons.|
|Tweed was re-arrested and forced to resign his city positions. Once again, he was released on bail—$8 million this time. He was found guilty on 204 of 220 counts, fined $12,750 ($290,000 today) and given a prison sentence of 12 years. New York State filed a civil suit against Tweed, attempting to recover $6 million in embezzled funds. He died in jail on April 12, 1878, from severe pneumonia.|