Los Angeles: Lou Pearlman, the producer responsible for boy bands Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, died in prison while serving his 25-year sentence for a USD 300 million Ponzi scheme. He was 62.
Pearlman is best known for his hand in creating some of the biggest bands of the ’90s, reported Variety.
In Florida in 1993, the producer brought together then-unknown singers AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Howie D and Brian Littrell to create the Backstreet Boys. The band would go on to sell more than 130 million records.
In 1995, Pearlman also created NSYNC. Along with making massive sales, NSYNC can also be credited with jumpstarting Justin Timberlake’s road to stardom.
Pearlman saw a fall from grace, however, in 2006, when it was revealed he was running a USD 300 million Ponzi scheme through his Trans Continental companies.
He admitted to defrauding thousands of people and about ten banks in a Orlando, Florida, court in 2008.
As Judge G. Kendall Sharp read through a 47-page plea deal, drawn up by prosecution and defense lawyers to avoid a lengthy trial, Pearlman agreed to the charges. He was sentenced to 25 years two months later.
Included in the victims of Pearlman’s scam were his friends, family and retirees, Sharp said, and he agreed to reduce Pearlman’s sentence by one month for every USD 1 million returned.
Many of those whose careers were influenced by Pearlman took to social media over the weekend to pay tribute to the late producer, despite his sentencing. Timberlake tweeted, “I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.”
NSYNC star Lance Bass meanwhile, posted, “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.”
Fellow NSYNC member Chris Kirkpatrick, Backstreet Boys’ member AJ McLean, Aaron Carter and former O-Town member Ashley Angel Parker also pay tribute to Lou on Twitter.
Kirkpatrick wrote, “Mixed emotions right now, but RIP Lou Pearlman.”
“Many emotions at the news of Lou’s passing. Without Lou I wouldn’t have met my four brothers or had the opportunity of a lifetime. RIP,” McLean said.
Ashley, meanwhile, posted a throwback photo of Lou and O-Town along with caption, “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.”