Thursday, April 04, 2002

Ohio man accused of fraud

Authorities say he collected $29M from clients in schemes

By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A businessman who promised hundreds of investors they could profit from major music concerts and from limited liability partnerships has been accused of operating two fraudulent schemes that collected $29 million.

        The Ohio Department of Commerce said Vernon W. Shiflett, of Powell, violated state security laws with the ventures that involved 705 people, many from the Newark and Marion areas, over the past three years.

        About 25 percent — or $7.25 million — has already been returned to investors, said Dennis Ginty, spokesman for the commerce department.

        Going against his attorneys' advice, Mr. Shiflett told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his only fault was trusting the wrong people and getting into business with them.

        “I made mistakes. If anything else, I'm the stupidest human being that ever lived,” Mr. Shiflett said. “I let people deceive me and I feel bad about that. I have not personally taken money or done anything myself.”

        He declined to name anyone. He also disputed the state's claim that $29 million was involved, putting the figure at $18 million.

        Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Johnson granted the Commerce Department's request Monday for a temporary injunction against Mr. Shiflett prohibiting him from selling off assets or disposing of any records from the 22 Columbus-based businesses with which he is affiliated.

        Judge Johnson also appointed Columbus attorney Keith McNamara to control the businesses as of April 22 unless Mr. Shiflett shows why a receiver is not needed to recover the money owed to investors.

        Mr. Shiflett said the injunction surprised him since the state investigated his businesses in 1999 and never told him there were problems.

        He said he plans to sell off some assets and pay everyone owed within two weeks.

        Mr. Ginty said that by doing so, Mr. Shiflett would violate the injunction, which temporarily has frozen the companies' finances.

        He would not say how the two apparent schemes came to the state's attention.

        In one, the department says, Mr. Shiflett sold people unregistered promissory notes that told investors they would make money from investing in Addmac Entertainment, a company that Mr. Shiflett was an administrator of and that promoted big-name concerts.

        Addmac distributed brochures that told potential investors they would make money from the proceeds of concerts by such acts as the Backstreet Boys, John Cougar Mellencamp, the Temptations and Shania Twain.

        The Commerce Department says Mr. Shiflett falsely told investors that the promissory notes were low-risk and insured investments and failed to disclose that the concert promoter, Debra McCleary of Nouveau Entertainment Inc., another business Mr. Shiflett was affiliated with, had a criminal history of passing bad checks and possessing drugs.

        In the second venture, the Commerce Department said Mr. Shiflett sold unregistered interests in limited liability partnerships and falsely told investors he would control their money, it would be insured and there was no risk.

        Instead of keeping control of the money, Mr. Ginty said Mr. Shiflett transferred $3.9 million to Hurtz Major Financial Services Corp. in Salt Lake City in 2000 and $8.2 million in 2001 to Global Capital Securities Corp. in Englewood, Colo.


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