The 5 Worst Disasters in Benefit Concert History
Look, with the possible exception of Sean Hannity up there, and nothing has been proven in a court of law or anything; everyone running these concerts was just trying to help. They may have been boosting their own egos, riding the promotion train into further stardom, but in the end they wanted to do something nice. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but that's only because the devil drives the paver. Don't blame the material.
Aaron Tonken, though? There's a wholly different sort of a son of a bitch.
At 35 years old, Tonken had become one of the greatest fund-raisers around. He hobnobbed with the Clintons, Diana Ross, Arnold Schwarzenegger, everyone. He was a smooth customer who helped organize every kind of benefit that you could possibly want.
His crowning glory was 2001's A Family Celebration. He packed two presidents and the best of Hollywood into the Regent Beverly Wilshire's ballroom. Bill Clinton joined B.B. King onstage for a blues set, and N*Sync finished off the event with a concert. All in all, Tonken was supposed to distribute the $1.5 million collected to various charities.
In reality, most of the money that Tonken, a schlubby sycophant desperate for the limelight, collected went to paying off increasing debts he had incurred, as well as his passion for $3,000 escorts. The man who had hoodwinked the brightest stars in the world began to unravel in 2002, and he pleaded guilty to fraud a year later. He was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution, in addition to a $500,000 fine.
Despite still owing the people he duped millions and publishing a tell-all book on the way to prison that embarrassed many of those same people even further, Tonken tried for redemption upon getting out of prison, with folks like Wayne Newton expressing their wish to help him turn his life back around. Of course, since he's bitching because a life insurance policy naming him beneficiary paid off some of his creditors instead of giving Tonken the money, it's probably a work in progress.