Charles Kushner's father, Joseph, arrived in the U.S. in 1949 and started out as a construction worker before moving into real estate, gradually assembling a portfolio of 4,000 apartment units in New Jersey over the course of three decades. Joseph later bequeathed his real estate assets to his two sons, Charles and Murray, and the younger of the two, Charles, who had been working as a real estate and tax lawyer, stepped in as CEO in 1985. Charlie Kushner set out on an aggressive expansion plan, extending the firm's reach beyond its traditional New Jersey territory, acquiring high profile property in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and diversifying into new businesses, picking up stakes in insurance, banking and telecommunications companies. But his reputation as a savvy investor was soon eclipsed by his legal troubles, which split the family into two factions and landed Charles in jail.
Although he'd been one of Jersey's most powerful developers for years, Kushner only really became a household name in 2004 when twin scandals enveloped his career and left him disgraced and incarcerated. One of the state's most prominent political donors, Kushner had channeled millions to Democratic candidates since the '90s and was one of Jim McGreevey's primary backers when he launched a bid for governor. In 2004, it came to light that Kushner had skirted campaign finance laws, making political donations in the names of his real estate partners without their consent, a scheme that allowed him to direct millions to candidates like McGreevey, who received more than $1.5 million from the real estate developer between 1997 and 2001. The scandal got messier when it was revealed that Kushner's brother and sister, Murray and Esther had cooperated with the federal investigation into his campaign activities, and that Charles had retaliated for the perceived betrayal by hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law. Kushner pleaded guilty in federal court to 18 charges, including retaliating against a federal witness and violating campaign finance laws. He received a two year prison sentence as part of the plea (and paid a $508,900 fine), but only served a one-year sentence and went right back to the office, business as usual. [Image via Getty]