Palm Beach Story Selected for Best American Crime Reporting
The story begins, as they say, with the end. And in this end, 44-year-old hedge-fund manager Seth Tobias was floating dead in the pool behind his Jupiter mansion. His wife, Phyllis, a thrice-divorced party girl with an affinity for the finer (by "finer," of course, I mean "insanely expensive") things in life, was accused of murdering Seth by her gay psychic adviser -- who, it turns out, had been blackmailing Seth.
Sensational? Yes, in all the right ways. "Dead Man's Float," written by Stephen Rodrick, was published in February 2008 in New York Magazine. And this week, it appears in the annual anthology The Best American Crime Reporting 2009. The series is edited by Otto Penzler, and this year's guest editor (who traditionally selects the final pieces for the book and writes an introduction) was Jeffrey Toobin, an author, staff writer at the New Yorker, and senior legal analyst for CNN.
Rodrick's story is an exhaustive investigation into a case that captured local headlines for weeks. And during his reporting, Rodrick came face-to-face (several times, it turns out) with psychic adviser/scamster Billy Ash, who has an extensive criminal history in South Florida. Rodrick even references a 2001 New Times story by Wyatt Olson chronicling Ash's long, sordid history in which Ash (whom Rodrick proves is a big, fat liar) calls himself "Mister Madam."
Rodrick told me he is battling a deadline but would share his thoughts on the honor tomorrow.