Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Airleaf gone but customers want money, prosecution

Airleaf gone but customers want money, prosecutionLau might continue to sell Hollywood marketing

By Ronald Hawkins
Saturday December 29, 2007


Martinsville-based vanity publisher Airleaf Publishing and Book Selling has gone out of business, but author Bonnie Kaye says that was only one part of her agenda in drawing attention to the business.

Carl Lau, who had been the owner of Airleaf, acknowledged last week that his controversial printing and marketing business had closed down. Additionally in an e-mail, Martinsville Police Department Detective Jeff Buskirk informed unhappy Airleaf customers who'd contacted him, that the business was shutting down.

In a voice mail message seeking to arrange an interview, Lau referred to himself as being from "Airleaf or what was Airleaf, with a little help from you. I think it was on its way down, so maybe not."

In the same message, Lau said he thought the paper's coverage of his business was biased.
In Buskirk's e-mail to customers, he wrote, "This is to inform you I have talked to Carl Lau. ... He has closed down. However, he and his attorney have assured me that if I provide them with a list of items to be returned, they will make them available to return disks, galleys, books etc.

"Carl told me he has 60,000 books in his facility, of which he owns only about 10,000 . The rest are yours and others who have published with him. When he receives an authors permission, he is donating books to Goodwill."

Kaye, the counselor and author who created, said the closing of Airleaf was just one of her three goals. Kaye also wants to see customers' money returned and for criminal charges to be filed against Airleaf, she said.

"We'll be using every resource we can get," Kaye said.

The FBI office in Indianapolis has been contacted and agents there encouraged Airleaf victims to continue to file complaint forms, she said.

Although the authors might be able to get their books, it will probably be at a cost, according to Buskirk's e-mail. And Lau may be starting a new business or continuing an aspect of the old business.

"I need a list of any items you want returned to you in a separate e-mail sent directly to me," Buskirk wrote. "This e-mail will be given to the attorney, so please only list what you are needing from the company.

"You may also indicate how much you feel they owe each of you, so that that can be recorded by the attorney too. Please keep the negative comments to another day, as we are trying to get each of you what we can get as we can get it.

"I will also need to know if you are willing to pay for shipping as I don't believe there will be funds to ship anything out from Airleaf and probably not from our agency. If you want to drive to Martinsville, please indicate this and I will try to set up a time in January to have a day or two where we can get this accomplished."

Buskirk added that this doesn't stop the criminal investigation.

Buskirk's involvement in the case, however, might be over with Phil Deckard, who defeated incumbent Mayor Shannon Buskirk in the May GOP primary, being sworn in as mayor Monday afternoon. Jeff and Shannon Buskirk are brothers.

"Starting January 1, 2008, I will be working the streets and no longer a detective. Political change," Buskirk wrote. "As of today, I have continued to inquire as to how this case will be handled or if I will be allowed to continue this investigation, but the new chief and administration has chosen to keep me in the dark."

Deckard said Thursday that Jeff Buskirk hasn't been informed about his future as a detective. Deckard was scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon with Darrell Davis, who will become the new police chief, to discuss the matter, he said.

Deckard said his administration will follow up on ongoing investigations.

That could include the possibility that Lau may still be marketing a books to film business. As part of the package sold to some authors, Airleaf offered to pitch books to film executives.

Kaye and others have questioned whether this ever happened, but Lau said it was a real service Airleaf provided.

In an e-mail to the Reporter-Times, Buskirk wrote, "He advised he was still talking to people about the Hollywood promotions."

Multiple attempts before and after Christmas were made to contact Lau after he left a second message, but those calls weren't returned.

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