December 29, 2007
Dear Airleaf Victims and Supporters,
Welcome to our new members. As of today, we have 294 members in our group, and the numbers will continue to grow as the word about Airleaf’s closing continues to get out.
In as much as this was a holiday week, there is not too much official government news. I did contact the other Senator in Indiana, Evan Bayh, to discuss the problem. I was told there was nothing his office could do except to question the Attorney General, so I said that’s fine—do that. Of course, they are first sending me a form to fill out with the information before they can question him.
Many of you have written to me to tell me that you’ve notified Detective Buskirk about what you feel is owed to you. I neglected to put his email address in the last update as some of you reminded me! If you haven’t taken that step yet, you can write to him at:
Three of you had problems getting the email through. If this is the case, forward it to me at Bonkaye@aol.com and I will try to send it to him.
One of our authors, Bob, sent me a very good point to share with you when seeking restitution. He stated that those of us who published our books with Airleaf should ask for our money back that we spent publishing the book(s) because now we will have to republish with another publisher. I agreed that asking back for this money is an excellent point that I hadn’t thought of. So if you sent your letter to Detective Buskirk, you may want to send him a follow-up stating that you would like the cost of printing your book to be returned to you since you need to have the book reprinted.
One of our great supporters, author Richard Fracasso, has given me some excellent suggestions including refocusing me to look for a class-action attorney which I put on the back burner due to the lack of queries I sent out at the beginning of the campaign. Following Richard’s advice, I did speak to a very reputable one who is interested in our case this week. We will speak in greater detail next week after he returns from vacation. Richard also thought it would be good if I could have a database with where you live in order to start pressuring other government officials where there may be a cluster of authors. So if you would be kind enough to send me an email with your name, city, and state, I would appreciate it. Please send it to Bonkaye@aol.com.
I would like to tell you Richard’s story which is now on our Airleaf Victim’s website. Richard authored the book Strawberries With Love, a beautiful tribute to his late wife, Ann. The book is filled with poems and antidotes about their life together before she died in 1976. In Richard’s own words, “I received a letter of solicitation from Airleaf Publishing regarding my book Strawberries with Love that was published by another publishing company in 2004. This book was a tribute to my late wife, who was the love of my life. In 2006, I paid Airleaf $4,000.00 for their promotion services. I also sent them 270 books to sell from my original publisher, Vantage Press, and was told that I would receive $3.00 - $4.00 for a book. To date, I have never received any money from them.
I am a 76-year old disabled and completely blind man with no children or family. I lost my wife in 1978 so I have virtually no help to fight this. I have a genetic disorder chorideremia that leads to blindness. Please do whatever you can to help me."
Before I called Richard in November (I got his name from a tip from a former Airleaf employee who felt very bad for him for being defrauded), he was not aware that our campaign had been started. When I called and introduced myself and the word “Airleaf Victims” came out of my mouth, he was ready to hang up the phone, thinking it was another “Airleaf” call. When I explained what we are doing, he was so excited to be part of our group. Richard is totally blind and has no family. He is very vulnerable as far as getting information. You can only imagine how distressed he felt after being taken for $4,000.00 to invest in a dream so his dead wife’s memory could stay alive.
Now I call Richard weekly when the update comes out to read it to him so he can feel his is on a winning team instead of just being with a losing publisher. He is such a wonderful man, and I’m so glad to have him as my new friend.
Interesting side bar—some of you, including Richard, were told that you would have your radio interview done through the Airleaf-famous Ian C. Moore in the San Francisco Bay area. And, his show, Culture Shock, was the last standing link that Airleaf had before the website went down two weeks ago. I had appealed to Mr. Moore to take his link off the website as other sponsors had done to show their support back in October, but received no response. So now after investigating his website a little more closely, I realize why—he was an Airleaf published author. He obviously worked hand-in-hand with Carl Lau on these radio promotions with no doubt, something in it for both of them. I must say that after listening to Richard Fracasso’s interview, that I am the one in “culture shock” that this man has a show at all and “interviews people.” You can listen to this interview at the link below, and click in Richard Fracasso. It would have been nice at the start of the interview if he stated Richard’s name correctly. And if you want to have a contest with me, count how many times Moore says, “hum” throughout the interview. I’ll be listening to other Airleaf victims interviews in the next few days and give you an update.
Link to Culture Shock: CultureShockNews
One of our Airleaf Victims, Jack Pransky, took a trip to Airleaf last week. He asked me to share his account of the experience:
I drove to Martinsville and arranged to meet Captain Jeff Buskirk at the door of Airleaf. At the time we had no idea whether the doors would be open or locked, or if anyone would be there. He arrived a few minutes before I did and told me that Carl Lau was there and had just run out to do an errand (I think maybe to pick up another author) and would be back in a few minutes. I am grateful for Captain Buskirk being there with me; it helped tremendously.
When Carl Lau arrived back he had another author with him. No other staff was at the office. Before I could say anything, Lau immediately apologized to me and said he would try to get me everything I needed. Apparently Capt. Buskirk had already told him I wanted all my book production materials. Carl brought me back into the production room and asked me to bear with him because he didn't really know anything about the production end of the business or where anything was. He went through the file cabinets trying to find the files of my two books and couldn't. He called a few staff people who might still be around or working for him part time, but no one was in except for a woman named Dawn (Rogers Duncan) who was driving down from Indianapolis. Captain Buskirk finally found one of my files. I told Carl that I also wanted whatever computer files were used for the production of my books and especially the printer-ready copy that was sent to the printer. He searched in the computers, said he didn't know what he was doing, but eventually found them. Then he tried to copy them onto a disk for me but couldn't. Dawn then arrived and did it for me. So I got from them the main things I wanted most: the computer files, and one of my two hard files. They said would continue to look for my other hard file, which had apparently been archived, because I had put that one in a long time ago when they were still Bookman.
The other issue was money. 1) I had paid them for a book that was never delivered; 2) I had never been paid for book orders that had been made through them for my first book, Somebody Should Have Told Us! (ironic title, no?). Carl told me what his financial situation was. When all is said and done he will owe something like a quarter million, and he doesn't have it. My conclusion is I'm not sure we'll be getting any money back, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
In the midst of all the searching for my stuff I had the opportunity to talk what him about the whole situation and what he thinks happened and his deep regrets, and all that. He sounded sincere, but the facts speak otherwise. At the very least, what should have been done immediately, at the first sign that things were amiss, is he should have sent a letter out to all his authors telling us what was going on and what we could expect, and if he wasn't sure at that point then that's what he should have told us, and then he should have kept us informed at every step along the way.
I did not approach him with anger, even though I certainly have been very angry at many points along the way, especially when I could not get one word either by phone or over e-mail from anyone in that office for months (and I could easily go there again when I think now of potential lost resources that I can't afford and all the hassle I have to go through all over again to get my book in print). Instead, I was just firm in what I wanted, but in a nice way. Regardless of what I felt for him personally, there is no excuse for what happened to all of us, and we deserve all our stuff back and compensation. That's my cut on it anyway.
Oh, one last point. One thing I learned was it's not like we can just take our pdf files of our books (if they're completed) to another printer (which is what I was hoping). We've got to get rid of the "Airleaf" insignia/logo and, more important, we've got to get our ISBN numbers changed (unfortunately!!!!!). This is why we also need our Microsoft Word files from which the pdf-printer-ready files were made. All this, of course, is a real pain in the ass.
Bonnie, thank you for all you have done for us!
Sincerely, Jack Pransky
I spoke at length with Jack about his visit when he returned. He is such a kind, warm, and nice man, like most of our Airleaf Victims. That’s why we are victims. Most of us are honest, caring people who only wanted to leave something behind for our future generations. We kept hoping against hope that the lies Airleaf fed us would become truths because we found it inconceivable that we would be part of a publishing scam.
I have no sympathy for Carl Lau because he still takes no responsibility for his thievery. In fact, he recently wrote this note to one of our other authors:
If you think of it in a funny way they (referencing in an earlier sentence to Bonnie Kaye and Brien Jones) talk that they want me out of business and then they complain that I’m not doing the services. It takes money to fulfill these services and they have shut off the money supply. The only thing they really want is to get me out of the way, and to do that they have lied and lied and told half truths. Yes I owe money but when I found out that they had convinced my investor not to invest I quit sending sales letters out not knowing for sure how I was going to survive without an influx of capital.
So, for the record, let me review these facts for all of you. I sent the following email to Carl Lau on August 7, 2007:
I see that you've ignored the warnings sent to you by my attorney as far as paying me for the books I sold. This has caused me great pain because every time I receive a notice from your company about your travels, I realize you are traveling on my money--and the money of countless others whose lives are being destroyed by Airleaf.
I've asked my lawyer to proceed, but in addition, I feel the need to proceed myself in my own pro-active way. If you won't pay me what your company owes me by August 15th, I will make it my business to do everything possible to make sure that others are not taken in by your unlawful and unethical practices. I have been in touch with some of your authors who have tried legal avenues but are having little success. Obviously, you're not fazed by the law when it's a straggler here or there. But maybe you'll take this more seriously if I begin a class action law suit with all of your dissatisfied customers. I have researched every book that you have published and spent the last four months tracking down many of the authors. I am about to ask them to join me in this action. In addition, I will take out a website warning people about Airleaf, and invest my own money in Google advertising to point potential victims to the site telling how you have stolen my money and the money of others to go on cruises and Hollywood trips. In addition, I will mention this experience in every upcoming interview I have until I have a reporter ready to do an expose of your company. I do have some national publicity coming up in September due to my interview in Cosmopolitan magazine's September issue, so this will give me an excellent opportunity to discuss Airleaf.
I wanted to give you one last opportunity to do the right thing by me before I proceed with my public campaign to get my money.
Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed.
Even I had a hard time believing that I was being ignored on such a serious matter. So when the deadline date came and went, I took out the domain name for www.AirleafVictims.com, put up the original website, took out a Google ad alerting people, and started sending letters to you, the victims. I wanted to let you know that I didn’t do this without warning or on a whim. I felt desperate—like all of you—and having a background in organizing groups, decided to take advantage of that fact.
Since starting this campaign, I have been legally threatened and maligned by Carl Lau and some other Airleaf former employees. I was even offered a payoff to stop this campaign, but refused unless we were all compensated.
Carl Lau claims that I “cut off” his money supply to fulfill the services, but we all know that the services were not being fulfilled long before our campaign. Some people paid for publishing services over a year before our campaign and never saw a galley. Other people paid for trips, books to Hollywood, Kirkus reviews, and other newspaper and television promotional campaigns. These NEVER took place. Where was all the money authors paid upfront for those services? Oh—incidentally, Airleaf borrowed $216,000.00 for a business loan in February 2007. If they were financially solvent at that time, why was there the need for a business loan?
I wanted to remind you of this because people with sociopathic behavior like Carl Lau try to get others to feel sorry for them as if they were the victims. No matter how nice he may seem in a conversation, the actions speak for themselves. Instead of taking any responsibility for screwing up, he is still blaming me and others.
In the weeks ahead, we will keep fighting on until we see justice. We are definitely a force to be reckoned with, and we must remain vigilant. Next week I will also contact the postal authorities to file a complaint about inter-state fraudulence due to the notices that many of us received via the United States Mail. I’ll keep you updated.
This is my request for this week. Please send a note to the Oprah Winfrey website.
Here is the link: OPRAH LINK
This link will take you to the page for ideas. Please tell them that you are an Airleaf Victim, and they can view our website at www.AirleafVictims.com. Explain how you have been defrauded by this company, and how the government of Indiana refuses to cooperate in bringing justice. Hopefully, if at least 100 – 150 of you send in this request, one of her producers will notice and call us. I sent mine in today. If you do this, please send me at note at Bonkaye@aol.com so I can track them.
Please know that I am spending several hours each week investigating solutions for our printing and marketing problems. By the end of January, I will present the best information I have found for everyone to fit your own personal needs. At this time, many companies are coming to me trying to get your business, so I am cautiously looking at each one. If you have had publishing experiences either positive or negative, please feel free to send me that information.
Have a peaceful, healthy, and happy New Year. You should all be proud to be part of an important victory this year, and next year hopefully justice will be served.
With love and hope,