“Mel Weinberg used me as a practice ground for all his other scams”

The EXCLUSIVE EARLY 1982 INTERVIEW WITH THE REALMARIE WEINBERG (ROSALYN, played by Jennifer Lawrence in the film), based on taped conversations, was published shortly before her death and was published in investigative journalist Jack Anderson’s column

“It is not revenge why I’m telling you this,” Marie Weinberg told my associate
Indy (Inderjit Badhwar). “It’s conscience. I’m not a woman scorned but a woman scammed.” “Mel Weinberg,” (Irv Rosenfeld in the film), she added, “used me as a practice ground for all his other scams.”

CHEATED IN LIFE, AND DEATH  (L-R) Marie Weinberg; Jennifer Lawrence, playing Rosalyn (real-life Marie)

Marie’s story is truly a pitiful one. Abandoned at birth, her childhood was spent in one foster home after another. She married Weinberg just as he was embarking on his life of crime. She kept house for him, polished his shoes, manicured his nails and looked after their adopted son, JR, now 16. She learned to suffer in silence and to keep her mouth shut.

When Weinberg was nailed for fraud in 1977 and faced three years in jail, Marie handed over her diamond engagement ring and the deed to the house to raise the $10,000 bail. He repaid her slavish devotion by setting up housekeeping with another woman.

Inspired by the old Alec Guinness movie, The Captain’s Paradise, Weinberg created duplicate households a few miles apart, with Marie’s unknowing help.

The other woman was Evelyn Dawn Knight (the Sydney Prosser character played by Amy Adams). She was arrested with Weinberg in 1977; in a self-serving book, The Sting Man, Weinberg claims that it was to save Evelyn’s hide that he agreed to co-operate with the FBI.

Marie read the book and asked her husband about “Lady Diane,” as Weinberg and co-author Bob Greene referred to Evelyn. “Mel told me that Bob had made it up just to add sex to the book so it would sell,” Marie said.

But Evelyn was real. She even changed her name to Evelyn Dawn Weinberg in June 1981.

When Mel wanted to buy Evelyn a new Cadillac, he brought her old car to Marie, saying it belonged to a “Sir Gordon” (a fictitious name he pulled out of the hat) and needed sprucing up. Mel paid Marie $50 to clean and paint the car. He then sold it and bought the Caddie.

When the Weinbergs moved to Jupiter, Florida, in July 1979, he set Evelyn up in a condo just like theirs, 16 miles away in Stewart. He told Marie he had bought the second condo for investment and was renting it to a “stupid” union official and his “dumb” wife, who knew nothing about decorating the apartment.

On this pretext, Weinberg got Marie to give him samples of her wallpaper and floor coverings, and had her measure the wall unit in the Jupiter condo. He spent a lot of time in Stewart, supposedly helping the union official and his wife furnish their rental unit.

Another ruse he used to dupe Marie was to announce that he was taking their son to Jacksonville overnight. Instead, he would stay with Evelyn. He explained Evelyn to JR as an FBI agent with whom he was working on an undercover assignment, and told the boy to keep mum about it lest he upset his mother.

But Marie was getting suspicious. She had seen a piece of paper lying around with Evelyn’s name on it. Weinberg reassured her, saying “There is no
Evelyn… I love you and only you.”

When Weinberg said he was taking JR to Jacksonville last Halloween night, Marie resolved to follow her suspicions. The next day, she found the other condo. Mel’s car and Evelyn’s Cadillac were parked outside.

Marie knocked. Evelyn opened the door.”Evelyn?” said Marie. “I’m Mel’s wife, Marie.””Call me Eve,” said the other woman coolly. “How long has this been going on?” Marie asked.”Fourteen years,” said Evelyn.

Weinberg was upstairs and refused to come down. JR had gone out.

When Mel finally came home, he shrugged off Marie’s demand for an explanation. “So I got caught,” he said. “I always told you I’m the world’s
biggest liar.”

Then he nestled into his favourite armchair, ordered some Chinese food and asked Marie to give him a manicure.

— Inderjit Badhwar

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