GRANBURY (AP/Staff) – Flamboyant swindler Billie Sol Estes’ name may be synonymous with Texas-sized schemes, greed, and corruption. But friends and family focused on his loving and generous nature at a funeral Saturday, saying what a paradox he was throughout his life. About 300 people gathered for Estes’ funeral in Granbury, a town ravaged by a deadly tornado earlier this week. Estes, who was once tried in Tyler, died in his sleep Tuesday at the age of 88. He was Texas’ king of con men for nearly 50 years.
Estes was best known for the scandal during President John F. Kennedy’s administration involving phony financial statements and non-existent fertilizer tanks. Estes’ trial in Tyler began on October 30, 1962; he was convicted of fraud and sentenced to eight years in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction on June 7, 1965, because of pretrial publicity. He was convicted in 1965 of mail fraud and conspiracy and served six years in prison. He was convicted again in 1979 of pulling off another scheme and served four more years.