AIRLEAF VICTIMS UPDATE APRIL 18, 2009
Dear Airleaf Victims, JH Victims, and Author Friends,
First, let me thank all of you who have responded with your support of willingness to sign petitions for the U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison. In addition to our group, we had 29 people respond with their kind offers of support to sign petitions after they read about us on Victoria Strauss’ blog on Writer Beware! I will be speaking in Connecticut on May 9 at the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association on the issue of Predatory Publishing. I will take petitions with me to the event to get them signed as well. This is an issue that affects every independent author and needs to be heard.
I had sent a letter to the Attorney General in Washington. On Monday, I received this response:
Dear Ms. Kaye:
This responds to your of March 11, 2009, letter to Kenneth E. Melson, Director, Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), seeking to have the owner of a private company criminal charges with fraud. Because of the nature of your request, your letter was referred to the General Counsel’s Office, EOUSA, Department of Justice (DOJ) for a response.
United States Attorneys, and their offices, represent the United States and prosecute violators of Federal law. By law, they have considerable discretion in determining whom to investigate or prosecute and what charges, if any to bring. EOUSA is not a supervisory agency for the United States Attorneys’ Offices (USAO’s). We provide general executive assistance, policy development, administrative management direction and oversight, and operational support for the 93 United States Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs). Accordingly, EOUSA does not have the authority to require a United States Attorney to investigate alleged criminal activity. This is a matter solely within the discretion of the U.S. Attorney and his office.
We appreciate the confidence which prompted your letter.
I think that Mr. Macklin misinterpreted my request of “desperation” by describing it as “confidence,” of which I have none at this point. In other words, this office will not help us.
This week, I received two notes of passive-aggressive--bordering on antagonistic-- communication from Timothy Morrison, the U.S. Attorney in Indiana. I am sending you a copy of my original letter, his response to me, my response back, and his latest letter to me on Friday, April 17. Mr. Morrison is “picking” at my words and trying to deflect from the reality of our situation. After you read them, you’ll realize that we are going nowhere fast. However, that should make us much more determined to make this into a national matter.
In Mr. Morrison’s last email to me, as you’ll read later on, he states:
Few lawyers worth their salt are prepared to ignore new facts. When you e-mailed you were bringing “petitions from our victims with their stories,” I would certainly read those regardless of what was previously submitted to investigators.
I can’t imagine what “new facts” we could submit to Mr. Morrison unless the federal investigators were withholding information from him. This case is becoming more bizarre by the moment, but we cannot let this discourage us. I’m sure the government of Indiana would like us to go away, but we won’t. One author commented that “Bernie Madoff stole from millionaires and that was a crime, but a man who steals from hard working average people is ignored.”
I have attached a copy of our petition which is a Microsoft word document. You can either type in the information or print it out and write it in. Don’t worry if it goes into a second or third page. Just tell factually what has happened to you. If you have a printer, I’d appreciate it if you could print it out and sign it and send it to me. If you don’t have a printer, you can type in an X at the end where you give verify that you have filled this out and give me permission to deliver your letter to Mr. Morrison’s office.
Please be specific in describing what you paid for. If you would like to send me any back up or copies of information for me to submit such as promotional fliers of services you bought, feel free to do so.
Here is the correspondence this week:
From: BonKaye@aol.com [mailto:BonKaye@aol.com]
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 6:47 PM
Subject: From Bonnie Kaye, Organizer, Airleaf Victims
Dear Mr. Morrison,
I was informed by the Indiana FBI today that you will not be following through with our case of fraud against Airleaf Publishing. I want you to know that I and the members of group find this totally unacceptable. I have provided the federal authorities with more than enough evidence proving criminal fraud. We have nearly 600 members who are part of our group from the United States and other parts of the world who have been robbed of our money, hopes, dreams, materials, and dignity. There are hundreds of more victims of this company that haven't found their way to us yet. Just within our group, the money stolen is in excess of TWO MILLION DOLLARS. We want justice against Airleaf Publishing and Carl Lau, the owner who not only took our money while he was in business, but continued to steal our royalties after he closed his company for many months to come.
By allowing this crime to go unpunished, you are sending out a message to the other predatory publishers that continue stealing money from unsuspecting authors that it is okay to perpetrate fraud in Indiana without getting punished.
We are committed to finding justice against this fraudulence. I will be coming to visit you in Indiana in June to present you with petitions from our victims with their stories. We will contact every government agency in your state asking them to intercede on our behalf. We will also contact your local media and the national media to bring attention to this injustice. We have been patiently waiting for a year and a half for justice, but now you have decided not to help us find it.
This is a true disgrace, Mr. Morrison.
Bonnie Kaye, M.Ed., Organizer, Airleaf Victims
In a message dated 4/13/2009 2:43:40 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, USAINS.Webmaster@usdoj.gov writes:
Dear Ms. Kaye:
I would be pleased to meet with you sometime in June to receive written accounts from persons who have lost money in the Airleaf transactions. Please contact me when your schedule firms up so that we can arrange a mutually convenient time.
Also feel free to contact the national and local media and “every government agency” in Indiana. However, that may duplicate, in part, what you have already done. You wrote me on February 16, 2008, that you were “very distraught at the response of the Indiana government agencies, including the Attorney General’s office, the Governor’s office and the two State Senator offices.”
Nonetheless, on June 25, 2008, you wrote that the Indiana Attorney General had, in fact, filed civil suit against Lau and Airleaf and that you had identified 450 victims. A copy of the Consent Judgment dated July 8, 2008 is attached in a .pdf file. This judgment lists 117 victims and a $317,881.96 loss. Could you send me a copy of the supplemental judgments that include the rest of your people? Thanks.
I look forward to seeing you in June.
Tim Morrison, United States Attorney
Dear Mr. Morrison,
I feel as if we are living in two different worlds. You stated that you'd be pleased to meet with me to receive written accounts from persons who lost money from Airleaf. I have spent the past 18 months working with Rob Simpson from the FBI providing him with case after case of criminal action. Rob called me a week ago on Friday telling me that he and the postal authority presented the case to your office, and your office turned us down for criminal charges stating that you didn't feel that the cases met the criminal statutes of Indiana. He stated he wanted to call me personally because he felt bad that this decision was made. He told me he believed we had a case. I have spent hundreds of hours making sure that our group has sent in information and documentation about their cases to the FBI and postal inspector's office. Please explain how, after all of this time, you don't seem to know about these cases.
If Rob Simpson has given me incorrect information about your decision, this needs to be addressed. If you are saying you didn't say you won't prosecute the case, then please tell me.
At that point, I will apologize to you and let our members and supporters know that you are reviewing the case. Since the FBI and postal authorities have collected all of the information including interviews with ex-employees, why can't you ask them for the information? The police captain of Martinsville, Jeff Buskirk, spent over six months meticulously putting together all of our files. Would you like me to ask him to send them to you as well?
I would prefer not to come to Indiana if I don't need to. It would be a costly trip for me. I would prefer not to have to spend endless more hours getting petitions from our victims and supporters. I would be willing to stop all action if you are telling me that you will review the cases that have been collected by your agencies and the Martinsville police. Somehow, there seems to be a large disconnect here, and I would like to know what it is.
As far as the AG's office, the fact that a civil judgment was handed down means nothing to me. It was symbolic only. The cases that were part of the judgment were a small number of the total number of authors because the AG's office felt they would file the judgment based on of a two-year cohort. That's why there are so many more complaints than what the AG has in the judgment. There is no money to be recovered from the owner as I knew there wouldn't be from the beginning. This is why criminal charges are so important to us. The AG's office should have put a stop to Airleaf months before they went out of business since there was an AVC order issued in May of 2007. When the first complaints started flowing into their office, that should have been cause enough to close Airleaf down. But there was nothing done, allowing Airleaf to continue stealing money from people until my campaign forced them to close by cutting off the cash flow.
There is another crook in your state, Brien Jones, of Jones Harvest Publishing in Bloomington, who picked up the slack where Airleaf left off. He was the Executive Vice President of Airleaf who started his own "publishing" company in January of 2007. He laughs to people that Indiana government doesn't do anything while he continues to rob people of thousands of dollars. I have over 70 complaints from his new victims. I am working hard to end his business the same way I did Airleaf's.
Complaints were sent to the federal authorities as early as August 2007 when they started investigating it. Something should have been done then--but nothing was.
So, as far as I see it, nothing was done to bring justice to the criminals who stole our money. I am sure you have been reading the letters sent to you by some of our victims. It's not that just money was lost. For some people, it was their life savings. I have loads of elderly and handicapped people whose lives were shattered from this criminal action. We want justice, and this is in your hands. Martinsville couldn't handle the case because they don't have the resources. The AG's office handed down a judgment that didn't help us--it was too late to claim anything. Therefore, we are seeking, as we have from the beginning, criminal charges against the owner, Carl Lau, for what he has done to us.
Please advise me of what you are willing to do. Also please advise me if the FBI gave me incorrect information because that would really be discouraging.
Thank you for your response.
April 18, 2009
Dear Ms. Kaye:
You e-mailed that “I will be coming to visit you in Indiana in June to present you with petitions from our victims with their stories.” I willingly accepted a meeting upon my assumption that you planned to come to Indiana in June. Now you e-mail that “I would prefer not to come to Indiana if I don't need to. It would be a costly trip for me. I would prefer not to have to spend endless more hours getting petitions from our victims and supporters.” There is no obligation for you to come to Indiana. I am directing you to do nothing. I obviously misinterpreted “I will be coming to visit you in Indiana in June.”
Few lawyers worth their salt are prepared to ignore new facts. When you e-mailed you were bringing “petitions from our victims with their stories,” I would certainly read those regardless of what was previously submitted to investigators. The e-mails your people sent me contain sparse facts about their situation. Fewer than half were listed on the civil judgment obtained by the Indiana Attorney General and most e-mails contained neither a loss figure nor “note stating your story” as you also requested. Most did follow your explicit e-mail directions to advise me they were victims of criminal fraud and express outrage. “.. (Y)ou are simply either lazy or a coward--or perhaps both” or “you are incompetent and impotent and negligent” were unfortunately representative. Many cited the “facts” that the FBI and the laws of Indiana were on their side.
These cited “facts” are not determinative, but they are wrong. For instance, Rob Simpson works on an FBI-sponsored task force in his capacity as an Indiana State Police detective. He is not a Special Agent of the FBI. “I received a phone call from our FBI agent who was investigating the case,” you e-mailed your people. “The FBI agent was on our side.” I assume that was a misunderstanding. There must have been a misunderstanding, too, when Mr. Simpson told you that my office “didn’t feel the cases met the criminal statutes of Indiana.” My office is without jurisdiction to enforce the criminal statutes of Indiana. We enforce federal criminal law.
The Indiana Attorney General’s civil judgment may be “symbolic” and “mean nothing” to you, as you e-mailed me, but you are one of only 117 persons included, while the majority of your people are not. Restitution orders in criminal cases, just as judgments in civil cases, are frequently not collectable. That is unfortunately true. However, they are not without value, since a defendant who inherits money, wins on a lottery ticket or at a state casino can have that money attached on this outstanding judgment. I have seen it happen. And if it does, fundamental fairness demands each name and loss amount appear on an existing judgment. You e-mailed that the AG filed on your behalf and the others based upon “a two-year cohort.” I am unfamiliar with that term. What does it mean?
I remain prepared to meet with you, but impose no duty on you to travel here or collect further information.
United States Attorney
And so, group members, this summer I will be visiting Indiana. Maybe I’ll even meet with U.S. Attorney Timothy Morrison. At least I’ll make sure he receives our petitions to review the case.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be asking you to take a few moments to send emails to the leaders of Indiana to try to push them to move forward with our case. We cannot get discouraged because this is what people who should be doing their jobs are hoping for.
With love, hope, and determination,