A CAMPAIGN to reveal the extent of the homeless problem in New York City has revealed the surprising past life of one man currently living on the streets.
William "Preston" King, 52, was photographed sleeping on a pile of pizza boxes on a Greenwich Village sidewalk.
He was photographed as part of a campaign launched this week by the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), hoping to shame City Hall into taking action against the homeless problem.
But after spotting his photograph, King's sister has come forward and identified him as an ex-New York stockbroker, and a former friend of the "Wolf of Wall Street" himself, Jordan Belfort.
Living a life of luxury, driving a BMW and living in a Soho loft, King held powerful roles within Merrill Lynch and Oppenheimer & Co, reports the New York Post.
He lived the life expected of a Wall Street worker - partying hard and working harder.
But the drugs, the alcohol and the unsustainable lifestyle took their toll, launching King into a downward spiral that would last three decades and end with life on the streets.
His younger sister, Kristine King, last had contact with her worrisome brother in January, after King's abuse of prescription drug Adderall led to an incident at her house.
King was living with her at the time, but would constantly steal from her and make her life impossible.
"I screamed at him about taking the money and told him to write me a letter and apologise when he comes clean, and we'll talk," Kristine, 45, told the New York Post.
"That was the last time we spoke."
The last the family heard of Preston, was getting detoxed at Arms Acres in Putnam County.
The siblings grew up on Long Island, where their father and grandfather were horse trainers.
Despite dropping out of school and New York University, King proved himself to be incredibly intelligent.
He was placed in the top 2 per cent of the infamous Series 7 stockbroker exam and taught himself five languages, reported the Post.
"Where he was then, and where he is now, sleeping on cardboard boxes, it's unthinkable to me and heartbreaking," Kristine added.
The SBA sent an email to its 5000 members this week, calling upon the officers to "utilize your smartphones" and upload to photos to the SFA Flickr page.
The SBA President Ed Mullins urged the members to take photos commuting to and from work, as officers are not allowed to take photographs of members of the public while on duty.
Kristine is now desperately trying to trace King with the help of the SBA, comprised of an estimated 12,000 active and retired sergeants of the NYPD.
They are scouring the streets and handing out fliers, trying to find anyone who recognises him.
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