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Editor’s Note: We’ll be out for the holiday and won’t be posting regularly until Sunday evening. But we’ll have a special month-in-review local news roundup this weekend, along with photos of Sunday’s Chargers game. And now to the news.

Oprah came calling. The city of Los Angeles named a day after him. And just about everyone thought he was a financial mastermind, a kid barely in his 20s who made a bundle for himself and promised the world to investors.

But media darling Barry Minkow harbored a secret in his 1980s heyday: he was a fraud.

He spent seven years in prison and emerged to create a new life. One of the most famous swindlers in recent American history is now a minister at a San Diego evangelical church and a fraud detective. He’ll soon have something else to add to his resume: He’s starring as himself in an autobiographical movie featuring stars like James Caan, Talia Shire and Ving Rhames.

In this week’s Q&A, Minkow talks about his criminal past, the surprising way he makes money from crooks, and the time he out-scammed an alleged scam artist.

In other news:

  • It may be red, but it’s still a lemon.

    A 22-month-old fire engine, worth $820,000, has spent 10 months in the shop. The fire engine’s manufacturer is paying for the repairs, but the San Diego Fire Department is clearly less than thrilled.

    Extended warranties are supposed to be terrible deals, but here’s hoping the fire department bought one for this clunker.

  • We’ve got a roundup of leftover details about San Diego city budget discussions this week, including a look at how much it costs to keep police dogs and police horses in kibbles and bits. Twelve canines and the entire equestrian police unit are on the chopping block.
  • “Pick me! Pick me!” Or maybe we all need to go to the bathroom? Good guesses, but no, that’s not what’s going on in our Photo of the Day. We’re actually reenacting a New York Times photo to tease departing reporter David “D-Wash” Washburn, whose science coverage for us inspires today’s photo soundtrack.

    You can barely make out Washburn in the photo: His head seems to be sticking out of the left shoulder of Rob Davis, who’s in the foreground.

    The folks in the back row (left to right) are: Adrian Florido, Andrew Donohue, Scott Lewis, Emily Alpert, Dagny Salas, Sarah Johnson, Liam Dillon, Kelly Bennett and Keegan Kyle. The photographer is Sam Hodgson, and I’m the one in the front on the right. (The camera adds 30 pounds, as you know.)

    Washburn, a former U-T reporter who’s been with us for two years, first covered City Hall and then moved into the science/technology beat. He also worked behind the scenes helping with editing. He’s leaving to work at Voice of OC, an Orange County news site that’s not officially related to ours but is embracing a similar non-profit journalism model. Thank you for all of your work, D-Wash.

    He leaves us with memories of the moans and groans that erupted whenever he was on a tight deadline. You can read his farewell thoughts (groans not included) here.

    The voiceofsandiego.org team isn’t only made up of the people mentioned above. There’s also our erstwhile columnist Rich Toscano, the reigning king of charts. And we tip our Padres, Brewers, Orioles and Phillies caps (we’re from all over) to our development and support staff: Camille Gustafson, Summer Polacek and Ann Alpert. Their work is crucial to allowing us to serve the public and, not incidentally, have some of the best jobs in journalism.

    We’re thankful for them — and for you — this Thanksgiving.

— RANDY DOTINGA

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