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The Criminal Mastermind Fans Forget About On Breaking Bad

When Breaking Bad fans think of the show's most notable criminals, names like Walter White, Gustavo Fring, Hector Salamanca, or the Cousins probably come to mind. But very few will think of Ted Beneke.

Aside from the fact that he is never one of the show's most prominent characters, Beneke is often forgotten because he is an inept criminal. Beneke (Christopher Cousins) is in charge of Beneke Fabricators, a building materials manufacturing company inherited from his father. Though he isn't running a meth empire or carrying out hits for a group of Neo-Nazis, Beneke still commits a serious crime, albeit a much less violent one — that of financial statement fraud.

Beneke reports less revenue than his business actually receives in order to keep his failing company alive. The crime goes unnoticed, however, until Skyler White (Anna Gunn) starts working with Beneke. Skyler had previously worked for Beneke as the company's bookkeeper, but quit after her boss made a drunken pass at her. She returns when she needs the money to help cover her and Walter's medical bills. But shortly after moving back into her old position, she sees the accounting irregularities. 

Skyler White outsmarts the IRS, but fails to save Ted Beneke

If anyone on Breaking Bad has the potential to be a criminal mastermind, it's Skyler. When Skyler confronts Beneke about cooking the books, Beneke insists he's committing the crime for a noble purpose: to save his dad's company and its employees. But Skyler wants no part of the criminal activity. She tells Ted she won't turn him in, but will not help him either. Eventually, the IRS catches on to Beneke's scheme and Skyler, the true mastermind, comes in to bail her boss out. 

Dressed provocatively and pretending to be a clueless accountant, Skyler storms into Beneke's meeting with the IRS and makes the accounting irregularities look like they were the error of an ignorant bookkeeper and not a blatant attempt at tax fraud. She saves Beneke from going to prison — that is, if he pays $600,000 in back taxes and fines. But when Skyler sets up two separate schemes to give the money to Beneke, one of which includes a fake inheritance from "Great Aunt Birgit," Beneke refuses. His refusal eventually leads to his own downfall. 

Though neither Beneke nor Skylar might come to mind when thinking of Breaking Bad's biggest villains, Skyler's schemes to cover up Beneke's blunders are perfect examples of why she is much more suited to be a criminal mastermind than her boss.