Frederick Celani, Who Made a Career as a Con Man, Dies at 75

Frederick Celani was more than a decade into a rollicking, relentless career as a con man when he bamboozled city officials and employees in Springfield, Ill., into believing that he would make the city the hub of an overnight package delivery service.

It was 1983. Unemployment was high in Springfield, which needed the economic boost that Mr. Celani was promising. In a whirlwind few months, he hired 100 workers, including pilots; leased cars; and rented office space and an airplane hangar.

On March 1, about 1,000 people gathered at the hangar to celebrate Kayport Package Express’s first day in business. Champagne was served. A high school band played.

But it was over in four days. All the employees were laid off.

And Mr. Celani skipped town for Los Angeles, according to an account in a three-part series about him in The Standard Journal-Register of Springfield, which began in 2007.

The Kayport scheme — which was part of a broader fraud that involved bilking hundreds of investors around the country out of nearly $4 million for phony tax shelters and company stock — led to indictments against Mr. Celani (pronounced CHE-lah-nee) and his partner, Aaron Binder, for racketeering, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud charges.

Mr. Celani defended himself at his trial, with assistance from a lawyer, Jon Noll.

“To him, the trial was a tremendous amount of fun,” Mr. Noll told The Journal-Register. “It was a new adventure for him.”

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