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|“||His family had lost under $1 million; I lost over $100 million. I told him to grow up.||„|
|~ Willard Tappen dismissing the suffering of one of his victims.|
Willard Tappen is the main antagonist of the Law & Order episode "Scoundrels". He is a corrupt former Savings & Loan mogul who defrauds his clients of millions, and who manipulates one of them into murdering a lawyer who is blackmailing him.
He was portrayed by the late Michael Zaslow.
In the 1980s, Tappen ran a Savings & Loan bank with multiple branches in poor and working class neighborhoods in New York City, and made millions conning people into buying junk bonds that eventually failed and bankrupted them. He ruined thousands of lives to finance his opulent, jetsetting lifestyle; at least five of his clients committed suicide, while he bought expensive houses and a private jet on which he partied with movie stars and prostitutes. Eventually, however, he got caught, and went to prison for fraud.
A few months after Tappen was released from prison, corrupt attorney Arthur Kopinsky found the secret account where Tappen had hidden $5 million before going to prison, and threatened to go the police unless Tappen paid him off. Meanwhile, John Curren, whom Kopinsky had scammed into paying him to "recover" money Tappen had stolen from Curren's mother, called Tappen at his halfway house, demanding the money back. Feigning remorse for what he had done, Tappen promised to pay Curren back if he killed Kopinsky. Curren goes through with it, shooting Kopinsky in the head.
While investigating Kopinsky's murder, NYPD detectives Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan question Tappen, who says that his "secret money" doesn't exist.
After Curren is arrested, Assistant District Attorneys Jack McCoy and Claire Kincaid discover that Tappen has laundered his secret money through a "business loan" to their chief witness, Alice Huntley, who is also his lover. They also discover that Curren had called Tappen the day of the murder. Tappen admits to telling Curren where to find Kopinsky, in return for their agreeing not to prosecute him for fraud.
They are convinced that Tappen is responsible for Curren killing Kopinsky, however, so they charge him with second-degree murder, arguing that he showed a depraved indifference to Kopinsky's life. During the trial, Tappen denies orchestrating the murder, and callously dismisses the suffering his scams caused his victims. In the end, however, the jury convicts him of second-degree murder, sending him to prison for the rest of his life.