Irwin Harry ‘Sonny’ Bloch
Former board member, Humane Society of the United States; investment author and radio show host; indicted for securities fraud, convicted of tax evasion; deceasedIrwin Harry “Sonny Bloch” was elected to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) board of directors in 1993 after eight years of involvement with HSUS and the Michigan Humane Society. Reportedly, 1.5 million listeners in 200 cities listened to his New York-based radio program “The Sonny Bloch Show” for investment advice from the author of Cover Your Assets and other books about how to get rich and die rich.
Some of his advice appears to have been a sham. In March 1995, Bloch was indicted in U.S. federal court for securities fraud. He fled to the Dominican Republic, where he continued to host radio show for several months. He also hosted the HSUS “Living With Animals” television show from 1991 through the spring of 1995.
Bloch was accused of taking payments for touting worthless securities, defrauding thousands of investors, mostly retirees, out of over $20 million. He was eventually convicted of evading taxes on $700,000 received between 1991 and 1993. He died of lung cancer in March 1998 while serving a 21-month prison term.
In 1996, at least 10 other telemarketers, including one of Bloch’s sons, were convicted along with Bloch of federal fraud charges in Newark, New Jersey, in connection with the fraudulent investments in wireless cable and radio ventures. Sentencing against these others continued as recently as 2001. All were hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties, ordered to repay tens of millions in illicit profits, and meted out time in the federal prison system.
Today, there is no reference to Sonny Bloch in HSUS’s historical materials or on the group’s website.