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McKesson & Robbins scandal: Huge Fairfield-based fraud topic of Wednesday program

Photo by Contributed Photo

The many faces of Philip Musica, aka Dr. Frank Donald Coster, aka Detective Wliliam Johnson, will be seen in a documentary about a huge scandal touching Fairfield in the 1930s. The film will be shown at the Fairfield Museum and History Center on May 14, including a presentation by the filmmaker.

A free screening and slideshow presentation with filmmaker Robert Kalm on what he calls the biggest single fraud of the 20th century will take place Wednesday at the Fairfield Museum and History Center.

Kalm's documentary, "Self Made: The American Dreams of Philip Musica," investigates a scam that culminated in Fairfield 75 years ago involving Dr. Frank Donald Coster, also known as Philip Musica.

The 7 p.m. lecture and fundraising event is part of Fairfield's 375th anniversary celebration.

Coster was a respected name in Depression-era America. He was CEO of pharmaceutical giant McKesson & Robbins, a Republican prospect for the 1940 presidential ticket, and host to Wall Street tycoons on the largest yacht on Long Island Sound.

On the morning of Dec. 16, 1938, federal agents arrived at Coster's estate, 400 Mill Plain Road, to arrest him on multiple charges, but Coster shot himself in an upstairs bathroom.

There was no equal to the McKesson & Robbins fraud in imagination or international scope until the Enron and Madoff scandals of the early 21st century, according to Kalm.

The McKesson scandal was only a chapter in the much larger mystery of Coster, also known as Detective William Johnson, as well as convict Philip Musica.

Kalm is an Emmy-winning producer whose grandparents were both employees and relatives by marriage of Coster.

At the museum program there will be a preview of a large collection of never-before-seen Musica artifacts -- from family photos to McKesson's papers, all gathered for the film.

Refreshments and a question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. Donations will support the ongoing production of the documentary, filming additional interviews, and researching image archives.

Visit the documentary website at www.whoismusica.com for more information.

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