Kevin Trudeau: passport pleas and a piss-poor movie
So goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Where the scammers and predators howl
They've planted me in the jailhouse
There isn't much to do now
Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me all around
Predators hungry for money
Sniffing for marks, who are easily found.
With apologies to Bernie Taupin, Elton John, et al.
Even though he's behind bars, serial scammer Kevin Trudeau continues to provide entertainment for those of us who are easily amused -- even if he provides it unwittingly or in the most tangential way. But before we get to the rollicking fun, I should mention that as of the time I'm publishing this, people who object to the sale of the Global Information Network (GIN) assets to AXS Investment Group (or AXS Consulting, LLC) -- a group consisting of some of Kevin's bestest, most loyal buddies -- have less than an hour to file their objections with the court. Deadline is today (Monday, May 12, 2014) at 5:00 PM Central Daylight Time. I'll keep you posted.
Mama mia, Katie wants his passaporto!
Last week I found out, and shared on Facebook, that Katie wants his passports back -- both his U.S. and Italiano passports. Or his lawyer does, anyway. The lawyer filed a motion with Judge Guzman's court on Thursday, May 8. Maybe it's for sentimental reasons. Or maybe Katie wants to put them in a scrapbook or on a vision board. Except I think they probably don't have scrapbooking and vision boards at the MCC.
|Click to enlarge.|
The gummit has till tomorrow, May 13, to respond to this motion. Katie's lawyers will be in court this Thursday, May 15, at 9:30 AM to present Katie's passport plea before Judge Guzman.
Naturally we are having some fun with this on Facebook. My friend Bernie O'Mahony of GINtruth.com wrote, "Maybe he needs them in order to get from Cell Block B, to Cell Block D?" Tim Donohoe wrote: "In an unrelated motion, his lawyer has asked for his release from prison pending his appeal. Nothing to see here." In a subsequent remark Tim wrote, "Another idea is that maybe his lawyer needs access to some offshore accounts when his next bill is due."
I thought that there might be a specially infused seekrit magnetic strip in the passports that can override the biometry in that biometric safe in Zurich where all sorts of seekrit things are hidden. As you may recall, last year Katie told the courts that he couldn't surrender his passports because they were in that safe in Zurich, but a little while later the passports mysteriously turned up anyway in Chicago. But suppose they really do contain some magickal seekrit strip and can help open that safe. What manner of treasure may be hidden therein? Next up: court docs demanding that whoever has his $6,400 cufflinks return them to his lawyers immediately.
By the way, on that passport motion Katie's lawyer, Thomas Kirsch, got the date of his client's criminal conviction wrong. It was November 12, 2013, not November 7, 2014. November 7, 2014 hasn't happened yet. But I guess I am not too surprised that Kirsch would get that detail wrong; he was the one who bungled Katie's criminal trial by opening with that lame "cheesy moon" argument, and later on in the trial he and his team made the judge kind of mad.
UPDATE 13 May: The government responded with an opposition to Kirsch's motion. Here is a link to that document. The government points out that the usual procedure with convicted criminals is to return their U.S. passports to the State Department, and any foreign passports to Homeland Security. It hasn't been done yet but the government expects that to happen. It also points out that by the time Trudeau is out on supervised release, his passports will have expired anyway.
UPDATE 15 May: Motion denied. Judge Guzman agrees with gummit and thinks that giving the passports to a third party might constitute a security risk. Here's that doc. (Note: I incorrectly titled the document 05-15-14; it was actually filed on 05-14-14.)
I still have to wonder why the lawyers wanted the passports badly enough to file a motion. But maybe this is much ado about little; perhaps it is just a routine thing for criminal lawyers to file to get all of their clients' documents back from Pretrial Services. Or... maybe Katie needs his passports to return to Oz.
Good buy Yellow Brick Road? Well, not so much.
The long-awaited animated movie, Legends of Oz:Dorothy's Return, was finally released theatrically across the US on Friday, May 9. This project was one of the "investment opportunities" offered by a couple of GIN members to other GIN members. My friend John Foster, an ex-Katie fan, former founding member of GIN and author of a new book about his GIN experiences and the scam GIN was, wrote on Facebook, "Investors spent around $100 million and [the movie] is opening in 1800 movie theaters. If it makes money it will be the first GIN opportunity that was promoted that made money."
There was a lot of skepticism about this movie when the discussions came up on Facebook last year, and one reason for the skepticism -- beyond the obvious fact that the "investment" op was being offered within the framework of GIN -- was that the folks involved with the production firms, Summertime Entertainment and Alpine Productions, have been involved in some dodgy business deals and have had some complaints made against them (more on that in a moment). People were even getting spam phone calls from folks asking them to invest in the project. (Here is another link about that, from the same thread.)
But now that the project has indeed come to fruition, I would like to know if any of the GIN members who "invested" -- either the ones originally offering the opportunity to GIN members, or anyone else in GIN who took advantage of the "opportunity" -- will actually be making any money from the movie. My email box is open!
Of course they are buzzing about it on the GIN Facebook pages: "In case you are not aware, a group of GIN Members utilized their training to help manifest the money to partially fund this movie."
Um-kay. But will they make any of that money back? Or was that even their intention in the first place? Inquiring minds want to know. I don't even know how to begin to pursue this matter because I don't think I ever knew the names of the GIN members who were pushing it. Can anyone help?
Brief update: A person in the know sent me a message clarifying that the Oz movie had nothing to do with GIN (which I knew), but the connection was simply that there was one GIN member pitching the project from the time he joined. He was able to pull a little money from a few members but nothing major. My source noted that on a conference call last week, Chris "Voldemort" McGarahan (one of the members of the group who is buying GIN) apparently gave GIN credit for raising all of the money for the film production -- which isn't even close to true, but even if it had been...well, it was nothing to brag about. And that gives this story double snarkitude points: for the fact that the GINvestors are claiming credit that they don't deserve, as well as for the fact that the movie they're taking so much credit for is an embarrassment (see next paragraph). Nice job, guys! [NOTE: See May 13 updates and addenda below. ~CC]
In any case the GINvestors who pitched in a few bucks should be very proud of themselves, because the movie is just getting splendid reviews. That is, if you define "splendid" as being "[An] eyeball-gougingly ugly, charm-free animated musical sequel, which is inexplicably opening in thousands of theaters instead of going direct to video." Or a movie that feels "like the cheaply made knockoffs you find in a dollar store: garishly shiny, flimsy and not built to last." As another reviewer wrote, "The bricks are still yellow, but the road doesn't lead anywhere special."
My friend Kenneth, another ex GIN member, said he went to see a movie this weekend but the show he wanted to see had sold out for the show time he wanted. He inquired about other movies and was told that aside from Spiderman, which only had a few tickets remaining, Legends of Oz had only a handful of people in it. "Needless to say, people had no interest in it whatsoever," he noted.
THIS JUST IN: Record breaking lousy debut at the box office (even worse than Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil).
But it's all sweetness and light on the official pages: the one for Summertime Entertainment and for Legends of Oz.
Still, there were hard feelings along the way to production and release, as I suppose there often are in the movie biz. Someone wrote a nasty note to Ripoff Report in October 2012.
And guess who wrote the rebuttal? One Marc J. Lane, whose law firm represented Summertime's Ryan and Roland Carroll and the production team behind the film.
As you may recall from reading this Whirled and various court documents and forums, Marc Lane was the asset protection lawyer who, as it happens, was hugely instrumental in helping Katie create and structure GIN.
Marc participated in social media buzz about the film while it was in production last year.
He was responding to this March 2013 post on "The Royal Blog of Oz," an Oz enthusiast blog. (By the way, after the fanfare on that blog, the actual movie review by one of the blog's team members was kind of anti-climactic.)
Marc also participated in one of the discussions about the spam phone calls that I mentioned above. Here's another page on that scam phone call thread. (It's basically the same spiel he wrote on the Ripoff Report thread.)
But Marc has been curiously silent about the movie on Facebook since its release, but he has "liked" several Oz-movie related pages... among other things. My goodness.
I can't say that I think Marc is a bad guy. I mean, lots of folks like porn; I don't think that's really that big a deal as long as it all involves consenting human adults. Besides, maybe the porn site people are clients of his. Or maybe a mischievous member of his household got into his Facebook account and "liked" that naughty page. There could be any number of explanations.
And judging from some of his Facebook posts Marc has a social conscience, or at least wants to make it appear that he does. In fact, when it comes to several issues regarding social and economic justice he appears to be embracing a side that is contrary to that embraced by most of the one percent. I like that in a person. But I have to wonder what sort of "conscience" or moral compass allowed him to participate so extensively in helping Kevin Trudeau create a scammy scheme such as GIN. I'm told by those who seem to be in a position to know that Marc gave Kevin sound advice that was well within legal frameworks, but that Kevin chose to ignore a lot of it and did as he pleased, and that was what caused all the trouble. I'm only halfway buying that. Because, really... Kevin Trudeau? Well-known lifelong scammer? Seriously, Marc, what were you thinking?
At any rate, my understanding is that various investigations are still ongoing. I've alternately been told that Marc isn't out of the woods yet regarding the Trudeau investigations, and that he is out of the woods because he cooperated with the Feds and didn't do anything with criminal intent. That story is still unfolding. I know only small parts of it and have reported what I know.
But I would not be surprised to learn that Marc Lane may have somehow been involved in the push for GIN members to invest in that animated boondoggle. If anyone has any insights into this I'll be glad to add that info to this post, and of course you can remain anon if you wish.
Speaking of Oz, which also happens to be another name for Australia, I wonder if the investigators were ever able to uncover any more of Katie's hidden assets Down Under, which the receivers were going on and on about last September.
And partly because my mind is jumping around all over the place today, but mostly because so many of these stories are interrelated in some way (because they are all part of the same, much larger and grimmer story), I'm reminded of another Oz character and Katie b.f.f., the late Rene Rivkin, who offed himself in 2005 and whose assets were also mysteriously hidden. He and Katie had a few things going together, for a while.
I think the authorities finally gave up looking for Rene's riches. But something tells me that if the right authorities did a little more digging, they might be able to find some more Rivkin assets as well as some more Katie assets -- in some cases, maybe even under the same rocks. [Although someone who knew Rivkin just told me that it's very doubtful if he had anything left, which may have been one reason he ended his life. Tragic story, there.] Anyway, I really should get off of my duff and finish that half-finished Rivkin post that's been in the hopper for a year or so. But I'll leave you with a pretty picture for now -- Rene and Katie and someone else (maybe one of you can tell me who it is?) in happier days. Rub-a-dub-dub!
Update: Someone just tipped me off that the other guy in the tub is the UK's Andrew Malcher, currently of High Street TV, "the leading multi channel retailer of direct response TV products." Here's a July 2012 article about him in the UK's Financial Times). From the article:
If the mark of a great retailer is not selling you what you want but selling you what you didn’t know you wanted, Andrew Malcher must be a great retailer.And here's a November 2013 article about High Street and Alliance Health Care signing a lucrative As Seen On TV-ish agreement. High Street has also signed deals with Disney and Hasbro.
So Andrew is basically an infomercial mogul. My correspondent says he's a super nice guy.
More updates and addenda, 13-14 May 2014:
Return to Oz...
Since I published my post yesterday, I've heard from a couple of people. I inserted a brief update in the body of the original post above (in green text), but here's more.
One person wrote to me:
The name of the [GIN member pushing the investment in the Oz movie] is John King. He is listed as one of the Co-Executive Producers. If gin people raised more than $1M I would be impressed. There were a bunch who invested, but gin wouldn't have had anything to do with it other than John pitching it to people he met there.Another friend, an ex-GIN member, wrote to me, also mentioning John King, who was the head of his local GIN chapter:
The movie may stink but I wouldn't hold any negativity toward it because of GIN.
He is an executive producer on the film. ...I got to know him and his wife pretty well.In a subsequent email my friend wrote:
He never pitched the movie to any of the GIN folks in [our local] group, as far as I know. And he and his wife seemed like pretty nice folks.
Apparently he was in great despair, with a failing career and marriage (this is public knowledge as he said it on stage), when he came across Your Wish Is Your Command. He truly believes that GIN and KT turned his life around. As far as I can tell, he is not simply a sociopath, nor do I think he sought any gain other then typical commissions and the chance to go "Hollywood."
There WAS misleading info. On stage he implied that HE had raised 100 million for the film.
...We were all impressed by his Platinum status and by the fact that he had raised millions of dollars as a venture capitalist, under the GIN rubric, to "make" a movie. One takes a person for their word, or should. And words can mean everything and nothing. When someone states, "we just raised the most money in the history of independent films, $100 million, I just got word as we were boarding the ship"... and if that person is someone whose house you had visited, and whose friendship you wanted, why wouldn't you trust them?Why, indeed? Well, at least my friend wasn't suckered into investing in this lemon. What I find interesting is that according to THIS article (which I also linked to above), Summertime Entertainment says they spent only $70 mil on production, and the author of the piece speculated that they may have been exaggerating because "smaller production companies often inflate budgets to make a production appear more legitimate." So where did that other $30 mil or so go? Well, maybe to promotions and parties -- who knows. If I were a GINvestor, though, I'd be asking some serious questions rather than crowing about this bloated cartoon on their Facebook pages.
Anyhow, as far as I am concerned, the Whirled angles specifically in regard to the movie remain the same:
- Some GIN folk are taking undue credit for this flick
- It's a stinker -- so those who invested and are so GIN-proud of it probably won't see any decent ROI... meaning that once again GIN fell flat as a networking op.
Then there is the Marc J Lane connection, however tenuous it may be. As noted on my post, Marc was hugely instrumental in helping Katie structure GIN to hide money from the Feds. It's all there in the court docs. Marc was also an attorney for the production companies responsible for the Oz debacle -- and he even wrote a rebuttal on their behalf on Ripoff Report, threatening to sue the anonymous complainant for defamation. It could, of course, all just be a big fat coincidence. Or it could be something as simple as a common hometown connection. Marc is a Chicago lawyer and Summertime Entertainment's Carroll brothers were born, raised, and went to school in the Windy City. Maybe they all knew each other from back in the day. As I said, I welcome insights from others.
By the way, the friend I quoted at length above also reminded me that a Trudeau entity called TruStar Productions, Inc. -- an enterprise in which Marc Lane was also involved -- had invested in a failed movie project called Hellbenders. It was noted in the Receiver's Third Report (17 March 2014), and I mentioned it on this blog post.
You can find a lot more about the Trudeau/Lane/TruStar relationship -- and their other business relationships -- in various court documents, such as Document #713 from Katie's civil case, filed on July 15, 2013, titled, "PLAINTIFF'S PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW." I've written about and inked to this before, but here's a handy link on the receiver's web site.
For more, check out this link and the individual name links on Advanced Background Checks.
Not surprisingly, on Marc's Wiki page there is no mention whatsoever of Trudeau or any of the Trudeau entities, or of Marc's involvement in this high-profile case. A shame, that, since Marc worked so hard on his client's behalf, including trying to get data under the Freedom of Information Act regarding some of the ongoing investigations of the various Katie companies. Here's some interesting correspondence from 2011 and 2012. It's in .txt format and you'll need to scroll down to the bottom and work your way up.
I have put all of this on my Whirled and have included links in order to raise legitimate questions and encourage others with more resources than I have to continue the investigations.
At any rate -- getting back to the current cinematic flop -- here are some more links. This one handily lists all the major folks involved in the Oz project:
Here is John King's Facebook page. He doesn't seem to be very active, except for a few nods to the Oz project, which currently dominates his cover photo and profile pic:
Here's John King's IMDB link, which links back to the IMDB page for the project: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6359182/
Here's John King's stik.com link: http://www.stik.com/king_john2
And here is a link to Elevate Entertainment, one of whose principals claims to have been involved with John's "110 million dollar private equity raise" for the Oz movie.
Natalie King - CEOBut wait... there's more! Other peeps are claiming credit along with John King for raising some of those millions for the Oz thing. Here's one Franco Rosado, who describes himself as a "Youth Empowerment Specialist," on Linkedin:
After graduating cum laude with a degree in Finance from Jacksonville University, Natalie moved to Los Angeles to work with Executive Producer Greg Centineo and Co-Executive Producer John King on a 110 million dollar private equity raise for an upcoming movie Franchise titled Legends of Oz - Dorothy’s return. It is set to be released worldwide in May 2014...
...Natalie enjoys bringing her analytical and creative side to develop powerful content that will reach a diverse audience.
Excited to be brokering our first motion picture deal with Mr. John King and Summertime Entertainment COMING SOON - MAY 9TH - OVER 3000 THEATERS LEGENDS OF OZ, DOROTHY RETURNS (3D Animation Film) MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! We raised the $5 million needed for our film! Stay tuned for more to come! Franco Rosado CEO, Deep Sea Innertainment Youth Empowerment Specialist [email and phone number redacted ~CC]So I'm sure there's a whole tangled story here. I don't know much about the film biz, but what I do know is that many movies go through a long and sometimes contentious process in their journey to release. So no doubt there were a lot of the normal Hollywood egos and financial struggles, which ordinarily would not interest me all that much. But when there is even a marginal Scamworld connection --- when, in other words, it intersects with my beat in some way -- you can bet your last flying monkey that I will jump on it, especially if it's a slow news day.
By the way, here is the link to page 1 of what is currently a 15-page, five-and-a-half-year-long thread about the efforts to get people to invest in the Oz movie (I linked to a few pages in this thread above). http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-818-909-6800.