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Brian Molony: Canadian Gambler & Embezzler

Brian Molony appeared to have a bright future ahead of him.

He was an unbelievably intelligent, charming, and a good-looking gentleman; but he also had a secret obsession; he was addicted to gambling and had a hard time staying away from the casinos.

This addiction would soon overtake his life and cause him to do things he would later come to regret.

“Molony wasn’t really interested in money and what it can buy. He was interested in accumulating infinite amounts of money, so that he could keep playing. That was his sustenance. The more money he made, the more he could lose,”

said Richard Kwietniowski, the Director of the sensational movie, Owning Mahowny, which was inspired from the life of Brian Molony.


A passion for gambling has been running through Brian’s veins since a very young age when his father used to take him to the racetrack and teach him secret gambling techniques and strategies. When it came to major sporting events at his school, Brian would act as a bookkeeper for his friends.

His father was a Doctor while his mother stayed at home to take care of their four children: Brian and his three siblings. After high school, Brian attended the University of Western Ontario where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism in hopes of becoming a financial writer.

Upon graduation, he applied at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and scored so high on their entrance exam that he was immediately put on the fast track to earning a managing position.

Brian had a serious girlfriend throughout college and was living with her in a small apartment near the High Park neighborhood while he was working there. By the time Brian turned twenty-six years of age, he was named assistant manager of his branch, which is an amazing accomplishment for someone so young.

With his promotion came the power to accept or deny loans the bank processed and access to almost all of the accounts the bank owned.

Brian was still only making about $35,000 a year at this point, so he turned to the casinos to make more money.

During his prime, he was betting up to $75,000 a hand and winning millions of dollars almost every weekend through playing anything from craps to poker. He even dabbled in sports betting, waging $500,000 on the winning team of the Superbowl, and successfully doubling his money overnight.

He spent his money almost as quickly as he had earned it, by taking expensive trips to Las Vegas in less than two years.

A Life of Gambling & Crime

It wasn’t long before his addiction started to affect his work and since the assistant manager position gave him special insight into the company’s weaknesses, Brian was easily able to embezzle millions of dollars from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce without them noticing.

One way he did this was through applying for loans under different aliases or skimming money from big clients. One account he skimmed money from was owned by Sherry Brydson, the founder of the Elmwood Women’s Club.

There were many other victims but most of them requested to remain unanimous.

Brian transferred all of the stolen funds to the California Clearing Corporation so that he could use those funds at casinos in Las Vegas unnoticed. Starting out, Brian had fully intended to pay the bank back all of the money he had stolen after he won his fortune.

However, his lucky streak ended quickly and it wasn’t uncommon to hear that he had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single night. Brian once bet $5,000 on 40 different college football games, only to lose each bet he placed for a total loss of $200,000.

Getting Caught & Convicted

It’s too bad he didn’t take that as a sign to stop gambling, as his worst streak of bad luck occurred just one month later in the spring of 1982 when he lost $1 million at a craps table in Caesar’s Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.

It was around this time that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce discovered what he had been doing and had him arrested.

Caesars was partially to blame for the embezzlement too, as they never cared to ask Brian for identification or verification of funds.

They also gave him a plethora of incentives to play at their casino including hotel rooms and free plane tickets.

The bank filed a lawsuit against Caesars, accusing them of allowing Brian to gamble at their facilities knowing that the money must have been stolen. Attorneys for the bank and the casino agreed to keep their settlement private, so the terms of the agreement have never been released.

All we know for sure is that the settlement order, signed by U.S. District Judge H. Mitchell Cohen, states that unless any new information emerges about the crimes, the bank no longer has the right to sue the casino.

The State Division of Gaming Enforcement forced Caesar’s Casino to close their doors on Saturday, November 30th, as punishment for their actions which cost them an estimated total of anywhere from $700,000 to $800,000.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission handed out over $36,000 worth of fines to several of Caesars’ employees who had worked with Brian consistently and were possibly insiders on the scandal. Brian willingly pled guilty to the embezzlement charges against him and was sentenced to six years in jail.

Picking up the Pieces

He was also forced to attend numerous gambling addiction counseling sessions to help him deal with his illness. He was released early after only two and a half years on account of good behavior.

Today, Brian works as a management consultant while also slowly paying back the funds he had stolen.

He speaks at seminars for people that struggle with compulsive gambling and uses his story to help people overcome their own personal issues.

Brian’s girlfriend was able to forgive him for his past mistakes and today they are happily married, have three beautiful children, and live in a modest home in Pickering, Ontario.

Inspiration for Literature

The book, Stung, by Gray Stephan Ross is based on the true story of Brian Molony and his addiction to gambling and it was officially published in 2002. Brian Molony worked alongside the author to ensure he was getting all the facts right. This book was inspiration for, Owning Mahowny, which was released the following year.

Amazon gave this book 4.4 out of 5 stars and one of the most interesting reviews I read said this about the novel,

“Even though I knew what happened in the end, I found this book fascinating and compelling. I chose it as a ’before bed’ book because I thought it would be easy to put down. It wasn’t, and I lost a night’s sleep, but gained a great read!”

Owning Mahowny

Philip Seymour Hoffman played the lead of the 2003 film by the name of Owning Mahowny. His character, “Dan Mahowny”, was created to represent Brian Molony in the film.

Philip took a limo to Brian’s suburban office and spent three hours with him before he agreed to take on the role. Neither Philip nor Brian ever commented on the exchange but you could tell that they both left the conversation feeling at piece about the movie.

Filming soon started taking place in various cities in the North from Niagara Falls to Toronto. Owning Mahowny only received 7.1 out of 10 stars from IMBd and a 79% from Rotten Tomatoes but Philip Seymour Hoffman was given several awards for his contribution to the film.

The director of this film, Richard Kwietniowski, was also excited to meet Molony in person and did say this about their encounter,

“I had a private meeting with him, just once, before we started shooting. I suppose that I wanted to get his blessing, and I did, but I also wanted to make sure that some of the details of the banking operation were accurate.”
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