WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB)– Jim Burton said his early involvement in crime led to an unbelievable lifestyle.
Most people only dream of living in mansions and driving expensive cars. For Jim Burton, it was a reality. But all of that ill-gotten wealth came with a price.
“They were investigating me,” said Burton. ”I had a big home and a bunch of horses and I had 27 Corvettes, a couple of Ferraris, and Jaguars.”
Burton was a med student, art gallery owner, estate manager, limo driver, and a member of the mob. Jim Burton was also in the mafia.
“I used to break legs for them,” said Burton. “I really got involved in karate in the ’70s and trained really hard for years. And I trained for the 1980 Olympics.”
But President Jimmy Carter decided he would boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. So Burton decided to offer his talents to the Gambino crime family as an enforcer for their loansharking operations. He said he made $3,000 for each person that did not pay up.
“I tried talking them out of it many times, but I was making so much money I would just go up to an individual, slam a sidekick into their knee caps,” said Burton. “It only takes seven lbs of pressure to break your knee cap.”
The mafia was also Burton’s introduction to the world of drug dealing.
“And I learned I can make a lot of money on this,” he said. “Scarface had nothing over on me. We used to roll a lot of money. I would roll into the city with a new corvette, fill it up with cocaine and drive it onto the island.”
Burton also claims he helped the family launder the drug money in Las Vegas.
“I would fly in my boss’s private jet and pick up the money, He said. The scam involved using foreign currency to gamble.
“At the end of the night, they would give us American Currency so that is how we washed it,” he said.
Their scheme ended once foreign countries started changing their currency policies.
“The money was almost worthless, so I guess that is where the illegal part comes in, but the fact of the matter is, I was able to sign up a lot of money and doing these deals with the boss, and I had saved, I didn’t like the banks,” said Burton. “My bedroom was full of foreign currencies, I had over 12 million dollars of foreign currencies.”
Burton also invested in penny stocks in the 80s, doing pretty well for himself. But he spent his cash almost as quickly as he made it.
“I had $3.7 million in my portfolio, so stupid me went out and decided to get married.”
For the wedding, Burton rented a castle out, a wedding dress from Italy, and Rolls-Royce for the return home from the fairytale wedding.
“There was a newspaper on the chair, and it said the stock market crash, Black Tuesday,” said Burton. “So I found out that I had $17 left, I lost everything I had in the stock market that day.”
Around this time, a stockbroker friend asked Burton to complete a foreign currency deal in Columbia.
“So I went down there, I was in touch with a federal reserve,” he said. “I wasn’t touching the money, I had it wired. I asked him if I could get in trouble for this, and he said no, there is no way you can get in trouble.”
Burton was not looking for trouble but trouble found him anyway. That trouble came in the form of prison.
Thursday night, you will hear how Jim Burton how he wound up behind bars, and what his life is like now.