John Visconti says he was thinking only of his son's future when he bought him a $220,000 Aston Martin sports car for his birthday -- no matter that the little guy was 3 years old, the L0os Angeles Times reports.

"I had saved money for three years to pay for that as an investment for my son," Visconti told a lawyer for his estranged wife, whom he married when she was 20 and he was nearly 60.

At the time, the Aston Martin might have been just a pricey bone of contention in yet another acrimonious Beverly Hills breakup.

But that was before Visconti's luxury cars became an issue in the collapse of his Hollywood payroll services company, Axium International Inc., costing 550 employees their jobs, sticking thousands of other workers with worthless paychecks and unleashing a New York investment firm's allegations of massive fraud.

"These people created a lot of chaos, for a lot of companies and individuals," said Susanne Preissler, executive producer at Independent Media Inc., which covered hundreds of its crew members' bounced Axium checks. "I'm sitting here cleaning up their mess."

Visconti, 65 -- whose eclectic business ventures have included cosmetics, gourmet coffee beans and offshore banking -- bought Axium for $4 million in 2001. He grew it into one of the top three companies of its kind, with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London.

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