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HBO's new docu-series "McMillion$" dives deep into the McDonalds Monopoly scam and explores the various people the mastermind of the scheme implicated in his actions, including members of his own family.
One of these people was Marvin Braun whose step-brother was Jerome “Uncle Jerry” Jacobson — the man behind the Monopoly game scheme that bilked McDonald’s out of tens of millions of dollars in the 1990s.
In fact, Braun was the first of several friends and relatives of Jacobson to receive an illicit winning ticket. Before the fraud began in earnest, Jacobson slipped him a $25,000 winner at a family gathering in 1989.
“He knew I could keep my mouth shut,” Braun says in the docu-series about the wild true story of the fraud and unbelievable cast of characters it ensnared.
Over the years, Braun would get more winning tickets from his brother, including one for $1 million, according to a Daily Beast article on the scheme. However, Braun was already living comfortably, and told the docu-series’ producers that he got a bad feeling about his brother’s scheme. Braun claims to have only ever cashed in the one $25,000 winner.
In fact, he recalled a day in 1991, when his brother handed him the $1 million ticket in a restaurant men’s room. Braun didn’t want it.
“I said, ‘I don’t wanna be involved anymore. I don’t know what you did, but I’m out of it,’” Braun said, adding that he “took it and flushed it down the toilet.”
Jacobson "didn't tell me how he did it," he said.
And it was likely Braun’s refusal to go any farther with the scheme — as well as his honesty when law enforcement came down on his step-brother — that saved him from jail time, he said. He was the first person involved in the fraud to turn themselves in.
“I was scared as sh*t,” Braun said, recalling Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark B. Devereaux warning him not to ever lie to him.
“I never believed in lying anyhow, and I wasn’t gonna start then,” he said.
In the documentary, Braun said that he was well aware that he had risked losing the chance of seeing his grandchildren by doing what he did.
And so, he pleaded guilty in October 2001 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, according to court documents. Prosecutors noted before sentencing that Braun also provided "substantial assistance" in their case against Jacobson, and he was given three years probation. He also had to pay $625,000 in restitution to McDonald's, split with Jacobson and two other defendants.
Braun added hasn’t spoken with his step-brother since his 2001 arrest.
He did, however, strike up a friendship with the very district attorney who once scared him so much — Devereaux. When Braun invited his friend to his 60th birthday party and introduced him as "the guy that prosecuted me," guests were stunned, the two recall on "McMillion$."
"I could have got a real d**k as a prosecutor, but I ended up making a personal friend," Braun says on the documentary. "So, there's always a benefit in life.
Oxygen.com was unable to reach Braun by phone.
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