Originally published 05/17/2013
Amy Reading is the author of “The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge and a Small History of the Big Con,” recently published in paperback by Vintage.Billie Sol Estes, the Texan con man whose exploits rattled the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, died in his sleep May 14. From a penniless background, Estes built up a $40 million West Texas empire of cotton, grain, real estate and fertilizers, and then lost it all when a series of newspaper articles in 1962 revealed that many of his dealings were fraudulent.
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