Ashley, who had recently taken up dancing as a hobby, donned a pink costume and performed a samba for the event. Like many participants, she was given a cardboard cutout of herself. That's the cutout that was found in bed with Scott's body on June 2, friends of the family say.

On March 14, Coles paid $40,000 for a portrait of Shaquille O'Neal at a Phoenix Suns Charities dinner hosted by Queen Latifah, even as Mortgages Ltd. failed to fund loan commitments.

Also in March, Coles personally introduced NFL legend Mike Ditka at the Jewish Federation's annual Jewish Men's Night Out. Seth Goldberg says it was the last time he saw his high school friend.

Polly Becker
Ashley and Scott Coles at the Derby Day fundraiser in the Biltmore, three weeks before Scott took his life.
Ashley and Scott Coles at the Derby Day fundraiser in the Biltmore, three weeks before Scott took his life.

In May, another friend saw Scott and Ashley at the ritzy Derby Day fundraiser at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa for the homeless and domestic violence shelter Homeward Bound.

Looking back, the friend remembers Scott talking about both Ashley and his struggling business just weeks before he killed himself.

"He told me, 'Ashley has made me so happy.' She did make him smile."

But Scott was also concerned about his investors. "I said, 'Scott, you look worried. Are you okay? He said, 'I'm working very, very hard, and I'm not sleeping much.' I said, 'Sometimes during these downturns, you have to lose a little money, but if you communicate with your investors, it will be okay.'

"He said, 'I'm gonna get these people their money back,'" the friend recalls. It was the last time she talked to him.

During the final months of his life, Coles didn't eat lunch on workdays.

This summer, there have been no lavish parties at Rockridge Estates. On a recent July morning, parts of the golf course are browning. Other greens are shaggy and overgrown. The house is dark inside. Branches and sticks from a recent monsoon litter the drive to the nine-car garage.

The property isn't for sale, though one groundskeeper says the family will likely sell it. Up the street, the home of Mortgages Ltd. senior vice president Phil Sollomi is listed for $4 million. One of Coles' Biltmore mansions is already listed too, for $11.5 million.

Across town in Gilbert, a more modest house is for sale. It's the home of Barbara Porter, the 62-year-old widowed investor who says she's now completely broke.

She owns the home outright; her late husband built it. But Porter says she'll have to sell her home to support herself. As upset as she feels, she also says the Coles family served her well for 30 years.

"I think the problem was greed. We're all greedy. That's why my money was there, because he paid 10 percent instead of 4 percent. I'm greedy, too, so I can't say I'm a better person. Everybody in town got caught up in this stupid appraising and spending. Now everybody's upside down."

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