Apr 132011
Authors: Christopher Boan

At the age of 18, Frank Abagnale Jr. was the number one fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, after he forged millions of dollars worth of checks and illegally tagged along on countless commercial airline flights.

His escapades as a teenager have spawned numerous bestsellers, TV show plotlines and even a full-length movie, “Catch Me if You Can.” More than 40 years later, Abagnale is still regarded as an international man of mystery and has even been employed by the very people who once sought to capture him.

On Wednesday, Abagnale, in front of a capacity crowd of 650 spectators in the LSC Theatre, revealed the relative ease with which he conducted his fly-by-wire lifestyle (no pun intended), while also delving into the inner conflict that he waged when he committed his schemes.

“I’ve always looked upon what I did as something illegal, unethical and a burden on my life that I will always regret,” Abagnale said.

He ultimately had to spend six years in jail in the south of France for check fraud, summing up the cell as a “six-by-eight foot hellhole with no indoor plumbing or lighting.”

Abagnale went on to spend two more years in Malmo, Sweden, for similar crimes, before getting extradited to America. He then went on to serve four years out of the 12 he was
sentenced in Petersburg, Virginia due to good behavior.

For the past 36 years the FBI has employed Abagnale as an expert on fraud. He still works for the Bureau, despite the fact that his mandatory sentence ended over two decades ago.

“Though my actual dedicated sentence ended over 26 ago, I still actively enjoy working for the FBI,” Abagnale said. “I’ve been able to actively assist in preventing future deeds, similar to mine, which still gives me the greatest sense of fulfillment.”

It was from this point on that Abagnale focused on the importance that he placed on being a good father for his three sons, now ages 27, 29 and 32. Abagnale discussed how his parents’ divorce, and the separation that he encountered as a result, shaped the misconduct that chronicled his teenage years and how vital it was for him to be there for his children.

“A real man loves his children and his wife more than anything else in the world,” Abagnale said. “Nothing in my life has brought me more joy than being a good father to my children, and husband to my wife.”

Business Day also hosted two-time BCS National Championship winning coach Urban Meyer and former CSU football coach Sonny Lubick, who discussed the importance of smart business management, both in coaching and in corporate America, conveying that there are no “perfect solutions” in either field.

“There are no perfect management practices,” Meyer said. “It’s about how one adjusts to adversity and competition that truly marks their success, whether it be in coaching or in the corporate world.”

Meyer finished off his lecture by discussing the importance of keeping the right frame of mind at work and to make sure that you can stay motivated at all times. The former coach even detailed how his inability to focus on coaching and his personal life led to his early retirement at the age of 46, after spending over 20 years as a coach for CSU, the University of Notre Dame, Bowling Green State University, University of Utah, and the University of Florida.

“You must have the right frame-of-mind if you want to be able to properly respond to adversity,” Meyer said. “If you don’t, then you’ll end up struggling to find success and to an extent, inner-appeasement.”

Staff Writer Christopher Boan can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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