#2. Respected Professor Steals Israel's Secrets (and Their Women)
In the 1950s, Dr. Israel Beer was considered one of the foremost experts on military history in Israel, besides being a trusted adviser of the country's prime minister. His resume was impressive: Before immigrating to Palestine in the late '30s, Beer had graduated from the Austrian military and fought in the Spanish Civil War, where he was known by the alias "Colonel Jose Gregorio" -- a name somehow even cooler than "Dr. Beer." He was also a successful ladies' man, even at his advanced age.
OK, we take it back -- "Dr. Beer" is the greatest name ever.
In Israel, Beer served as a colonel in the War for Independence in 1948, and afterward was given access to the military's secret archives to write a history of the conflict. In the meantime, the middle-aged professor was boning his way through the Tel Aviv nightlife ... and like so many great men before him, his penis would be his undoing. It turns out that this hero of the Jewish people wasn't even circumcised.
If only one of the women Beer slept with had mentioned that small fact to someone, the Israeli government could have avoided a huge headache, because Beer's crime was greater than letting the Lil Warrior keep his armor -- he was spying for the communists.
Turns out "being a big ol' lying liar" wasn't a crime. With justice, you take what you can get.
You see how this could be a problem: Not only did Beer have access to Israel's military secrets, but he was so trusted in the government that he managed to tear pages straight from the prime minister's diaries and give them to the commies -- (yes, even the one with the secret poem he wrote to Debby!). After he was discovered handing over a briefcase full of sensitive information to the KGB in 1961, the authorities realized that Beer's entire biography had been faked. He was not a decorated Austrian officer and he had never fought in Spain -- "Colonel Jose Gregorio," the name too smooth to be true, was in fact not. Heartbreaking, we know.
Incidentally, the only part that turned out to be real was his success with women. Several entries in Beer's diary were marked with multiple "X"s, which Israeli intelligence initially believed represented contacts with his Soviet handler. However, when he was pressed on the subject by his interrogators, it turned out that they just indicated the number of women he had banged that month.
#1. Shameless FBI Agent Profits from World Wars, Widow Murders and Baby Kidnappings
The 1920s were a time of gangsters, bootleggers and women voters, but not everyone was a flagrant ne'er-do-well: You also had the brave men of the (Federal) Bureau of Investigation, who helped keep the country safe from such atrocities. One of those men was Gaston Means, private detective extraordinaire.
It's like Alfred Hitchcock ate Andy Richter.
Means earned his position in the bureau by having served as a secret agent for three years in World War I while working for a detective agency. When his boss, William J. Burns, was named head of the FBI in 1921, he brought Means along with him to keep fighting the good fight. And what could go wrong? Surely there's no impending betrayal of some kind here ...
Notice that we didn't mention which side of the war Means helped on. That's because he and his boss played both the Germans and the Allies for suckers. In 1914, Burns was approached by the British to investigate German activities in New York. When the Germans approached him for the opposite task, Burns let his pal Means take the job and the two began feeding each other information to keep their respective employers coughing up money. Means alone milked $100,000 a year out of the Germans until the U.S. entered the war in 1917, then he switched sides and started helping the British, too.
"Their entire war effort hinges on me not owning a yacht. But I know how you can thwart them!"
The future FBI chief was so fond of Means that he even helped keep him out of jail when he was accused of murdering the rich widow he'd been using as a personal piggy bank. Seems as though one day, while out rabbit hunting (does that ever end well?) alone with Means, the poor woman accidentally shot herself ... in the back of the head. And despite his clear resemblance to Elmer Fudd, there was no wisecracking rabbit present to thwart his plans. With Burns' help, Means was acquitted for the horrible crime he'd obviously committed.
Once he became a federal agent, Means began shaking down bootleggers for money. His luck seemed to run out when he was accused of corruption and arrested ... but even with a murder trial and a prison sentence on his record, Gaston was still able to pull a few good cons. First he co-wrote a best-selling book in which he claimed that his personal pal President Warren G. Harding (whom he had never met) had been poisoned by his wife. Then he scammed his co-writer out of the profits ...
Now, that is how you do a book cover!
... and finally, he figured out how to profit from the Lindbergh baby kidnapping when he convinced a wealthy friend of the family that he had been in touch with the kidnappers and would be able to get the baby back, for a modest fee. A few weeks and more than $100,000 in ransom money later, they finally figured out that Means was full of shit, and he was sent to prison again. They never found the money.
See, that's how you do federal corruption. None of this "petty embezzling" or "selling state secrets" crap -- if you're gonna be a bad guy, you might as well go whole hog and skip right to the "Dead Babies, Exploiting" section of your Evil Handbook.
For more people whose balls outgrew their pants, check out The 6 Most Badass Airline Pilots to Ever Stare Down Death and The 5 Most Epic One-Man Rampages in the History of War.