Florida Attorney General Files Suit Against Robert Fletcher/Writers' Literary Agency

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Jess Haines

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This may have been posted somewhere else already, but...

...it bears repeating. :D

From here:

Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against "Literary Company"


TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that his office filed a lawsuit against a Boca Raton company that allegedly preyed on aspiring authors. According to the Attorney General’s lawsuit, Writer’s Literary Agency and owner Robert Fletcher used more than 20 websites and related companies to collect funds from potential authors, but misled victims about fees, costs, and promised results.

The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division received more than 175 complaints from around the world claiming Fletcher and his associates, who claimed to act as literary agents and publishers, allegedly collected money from victims anxious to see their work published. Potential writers paid anywhere from $89 for an initial critique to over $600 for various services including editing and marketing of a manuscript to publishers. Allegedly, Fletcher also told potential writers that fees were paid from book sales when in fact all costs of publishing were paid by the authors. According to the lawsuit, few books were ever sold as a result of the efforts of Fletcher’s companies.

Investigators determined Fletcher expanded into the field of publishing within the past year. Fletcher admitted to having no background as a literary agent and to using at least 10 aliases in his businesses.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief against Robert Fletcher and his associates, as well as his many businesses, prohibiting further business activities in the field of literary agencies or publishers. The Attorney General is also seeking full restitution on behalf of all victimized consumers, civil penalties of $10,000 for each violation of the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and reimbursement for fees and costs related to the investigation.

A copy of the lawsuit is available online at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7VJLSY/$file/WritersLiteraryGuildComplaint.pdf
 

BenPanced

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Extensive discussion here. You'll find that it's part of a small corner we have devoted to Bouncin' Bobby.
 
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EgyptianGoddess

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:ROFL:
Someone needs to buy a dictionary. FYI, since you can't seem to lock down the concept:



Either is correct - proved, or proven... unless Mr. Webster is also an illiterate author :rolleyes:


Ok, I know I'm late to this party, but your post tickled me to death:D
 

EgyptianGoddess

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Having now read through this entire thread, the hair on my neck is standing straight up. If I hadn't been fortunate enough to find this forum, and to have carefully read many, many threads before I started querying agents, I might have fallen for something like this.

Victoria, James, A.C. and the rest of you: I can't even begin to tell you how much I deeply appreciate how much you care about saving the rest of us endless heartache. Your efforts have saved many of us from falling into traps like this, which would leave us watching our dreams tumbling into a wormhole.

I don't think there is any way to adequately express how much that means to me personally. Now that I have found an agent, and have real hope of publication of my book(s)......all I can say is I might not be where I am without you guys and your efforts to keep the rest of us safe.

How can we ever possibly repay you? There are no words except thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
 

JerseyGirl1962

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You guys rock! This is the absolute best news I've heard in ages!

I hope the Florida AG takes Bouncin' Bobby for all he's worth - and then some.

~Nancy
 

James D. Macdonald

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The following quotes have nothing whatever to do with the Strategic Book Group (or whatever they're calling it this week).

These are from other cases dealing with other agencies.

I'm just putting them here so Bobby will have something to contemplate over the weekend.

Desert Rose Literary Agency, Leann Murphy
"Ms. Murphy scammed me out of $ 1,000 bucks on two novels. As ignorant as I was about publishing, it could have been $ 5,000. I turned over all my emails to Johnny Walker in San Angelo. The DA there is putting the case together. Looks like there is a very long list of complaints against Desert Rose. After Ms Murphy got her money, I never got a single update, progress report or anything. She just took the money and dissappeared... Never answers her phone, etc. After talking to the Sheriff in Tom Green County, They are extremely pissed at Leanne Murphy, and I don't doubt for a minute that she will go to prison over this scam, especially since her association with the Titsworths."
-- April '09, after there had been warnings up about Leann for four solid years. Leann had a history of theft by check.
She also worked for George Titsworth/Janet Kay (Helping Hand Literary Agency) On April 22, Leann was arrested for felony theft.

"1. How many books have you sold in the past year? I am currently in negotiations for 5 manuscripts. 1 western, 1 western romance, 1 Christian romance, 1 horror (vampire), and 1 suspense novel.

2. Can you tell me whether the person with the long arrest record is someone else. I will be upfront with you and tell you that it was indeed me. When I was notified of the warrant (both times), I immediately went down to the courthouse and took care of the matter. I've NEVER spent a day in jail for anything. At that time, I was having serious health problems (now resolved) and was on a lot of medications (pain). The bad checks were written when I was not in the right state of mind. That was 11 years ago...I'm well past that problem now...Thank the Lord!

I fully understand if you prefer not to work with me. If you choose not to, good luck!

Leann"

Lee Shore Literary Agency
Helping Hand Literary Services
JanGeo Ink (vanity press owned by Janet Kay and George Titsworth)
Hill and Hill Literary Agency (Christopher Hill)
Janet Kay and Associates (complaints back to 2003)
"Re: Janet Kay Investigation

Since September 2002 the San Angelo Police Department assisted by several
other law enforcement agencies has been investigating the company(s) known
as Helping Hands Literary Service, Janet Kay & Associates and JanGeo Ink.
The crime alleged is "Theft" by deception.

These company's were taking fees for contacts with publishers. The
investigation shows that although the fees were being taken personal
contact or contact only with publishers did not happen. Clients were led
to believe that they had a high chance of being published if money was
given for office expenses.

On January 30, 2004 a search warrant was served on the home and business
of Janet Kay and George Titsworth. All manuscripts and writings submitted
to this business were seized and placed in evidence. These manuscripts and
writings will remain in evidence until the conclusion of the investigation
and prosecution of all involved.

Soon after the search warrant was served I was advised that the business
was abandoned. At this time there is nothing/nobody left in what used to
be the office for Janet Kay and Associates. The phones and mail are going
unanswered.

Many of you have questions about plagiarism and your contracts. At this
point I have no information that leads me to believe that any of the
writings submitted were used in any illegal way. As for the contracts you
have signed the best I can inform you is to consult with a local attorney
in your area. Attorneys in this area advised that a contract is only as
good as both parties fulfill the letter of the contract.

If you have yet to file a complaint with the police department please
fill out the form Statement of Fact (contact Detective Elkins via the email
link below).

If you have already filed a complaint with the police department
you may receive an e-mail from my office needing more
information. If this is the case you will also need to
go to the web link and complete the form. Many of you have registered
your name but we need complete information for the case file. In
addition, if you have any paperwork, documentation, correspondence with
any one or more of theses companies, please forward a copy to the San
Angelo Police Department attn; Det. Brian Elkins. Scanned or electronic
copies my be sent to [email protected].

This bulletin was put out to inform victims of this crime and to reduce
the amount of phone calls coming in to my office and the office of
criminal investigations. I know some of you may have specific questions
for me. If this is the case please call however be advised it may take me
some time to contact you back.

Det. Brian Elkins
San Angelo Police Department
401 E. Beauregard
San Angelo, TX. 76903
[email protected]
"
Formed Harrison Agency
Harrison and Company Literary Agency
sonnyharrison.com
Janet Kay and Associates
newwriterswanted.com
authorswanted.com
Helping Hand Literary Service
JanGeo Ink Publishing Company

Evidence filled two 8x12 jail cells.
Cris Robins
Airleaf
Melanie Mills ($350 up front) Agency, editing, publicity. Literary Conference in North Myrtle Beach.

"Last week, during her trip to Europe due to a death in the family, Melanie
Mills died in a fatal car accident.

Therefore, all submissions to publishers have been retracted, all events
cancelled, and all existing publishing contracts have been reverted over to
the individual authors. Any contracts between an author, or authors,
revert immediately back to said authors in order that they may find
representation elsewhere.

I'm very sorry. This has been, and still is, a very emotional time for her
entire family and friends.
Good luck to all of you,
Kat Baker
Assistant to Melanie Mills""

Melanie, Kat, Lisa,
Martha Ivery/Kelly O'Donnell
 

Eirin

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My goodness. The first part of the legal papers from the Writers Literary Guild Complaint reads like a farce.

Dramatis Personae, most of whom will require socks:


ROBERT M. FLETCHER, an individual,
a/k/a ROBERT WEST a/k/a ROBERT WILLIAMS,
a/k/a BILL WILLIAMS a/k/a BETH STORMES,
a/k/a GEORGINA ORR, a/k/a MARY BLUESTONE
a/k/a HIL MALLORY, d/b/a AGENCY STRATEGIC
BOOK PUBLISHING, STYLUS LITERARY AGENCY,
STRATEGIC PUBLISHING GROUP,
AGENCY STRATEGIC BOOK PUBLISHING,

LESLIE MROZ WILLIAMS,
an individual a/k/a LESLIE W. MROZ,

MARK BREDT, an individual,

LYNN EDDY, an individual,

THE LITERARY AGENCY GROUP,
INC., a dissolved Wyoming corporation,
d/b/a WRITER'S LITERARY & PUBLISHING
SERVICES, THE NEW YORK LITERARY
AGENCY, THE CHILDREN'S LITERARY
AGENCY, POETS LITERARY AGENCY, THE
CHRISTIAN LITERARY AGENCY, WRITER'S
LITERARY SCREENPLAY AGENCY,

RAPID
PUBLISHING-SCREENWRITER911, INC.,
a dissolved Florida corporation, d/b/a
RAPID PUBLISHING, INC. and
THE GLOBAL BOOK AGENCY,

AMERICAN ENTERPRISES GROUP, LLC,
a revoked Nevada Limited Liability
corporation d/b/a The Writer’s Literary
& Publishing Company,

AMERICAN ENTERPRISES GROUP, INC.,
a Florida corporation, d/b/a AEG PUBLISHING
GROUP, d/b/a ELOQUENT BOOKS, STRATEGIC
BOOK PUBLISHING, STRATEGIC BOOK
MARKETING and THE GLOBAL BOOK
AGENCY,

GROUP AEG, LLC,
a Florida Limited Liability Corporation,

S T LITERARY AGENCY, INC.,
a dissolved Florida corporation


Wonderful cast! The amazing opportunities for exposure in this particular venue couldn't have come to more deserving people. I'm confident they will receive the recognition they have so richly deserved, in full measure.
 
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HapiSofi

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My favorite part is the long list of activities they'll never again be allowed to do, if the court so decides. No more doing business under pseudonyms, or asking for payment in advance of rendering the service, or having anything at all to do with publishing, or owning or controlling a website, and many more ... it's like a court order to go out and get a real job.

I keep wondering whether Fletcher's sulking and feeling ill-used. You see that a lot when these people get busted. They've managed to convince themselves in spite of everything that they're not crooks, or that they somehow have the right to defraud their clients, or that they really are agents, even though they haven't sold or submitted a book in years.

Oh, the indignation when they finally get called on it! The wounded feelings, the resentment, the affronted dignity! You could almost feel sorry for them -- if you hadn't seen all the hopeful, earnest writers who've paid these frauds' fees out of their household grocery money, or the crushed kids who've discovered they've been shafted, or the retirees whose one book of a lifetime has been butchered and thrown away by publishers-in-name-only.

Writing is hard. Getting published is hard. Editing and selling books is hard. Not every writer or every book is going to make it, and that's just plain sad. But there's nothing about that process that gives anyone the right to prey on their fellow beings.
 

Calla Lily

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Writing is hard. Getting published is hard. Editing and selling books is hard. Not every writer or every book is going to make it, and that's just plain sad. But there's nothing about that process that gives anyone the right to prey on their fellow beings.

QFT.
 

rejectME

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Hmmm. Everytime I've posted a link to their Facebook page or made a comment, I've been told that everything is on the up and up and all the authors are happy. LOL!. Then they take down said link or comment and tell me I'm jealous. Yep, that's it!
 

victoriastrauss

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My favorite part is the long list of activities they'll never again be allowed to do, if the court so decides. No more doing business under pseudonyms, or asking for payment in advance of rendering the service, or having anything at all to do with publishing, or owning or controlling a website, and many more ... it's like a court order to go out and get a real job.

They would only be barred from doing those things in Florida, or, if outside Florida, against Florida residents. The rest of the world would still be fair game.

- Victoria
 

AC Crispin

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Granted, Vic, but if they moved to, say, Georgia, and started up again, it would be far easier to bring them to the attention of the authorities there because of the Florida complaint. By being able to show the Georgia AG's office or GA law enforcement the official Florida documentation, it would greatly lessen the "learning curve" time most State authorities need to recognize this kind of fraud directed at writers.

-Ann C. Crispin
 

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Chuckled all the way through this thread, alas, my weird reaction to tragedy.

Then there's the obvious contrast of writers and non-writers (or The Idiot) through this thread. Besides spelling errors and incorrect meanings, which certainly everyone does or has done - but all lumped together it kinda makes the The Idiot stand out like a fig on an orange tree.

He / she reminds me of when I was a juror, and the accused offering similar justifications, such as: "I found the police handgun" implying he supposed no one wanted it, and subsequently held up a store with it, 'but no one was hurt and I only took $20...' I should add here that in no way do I make parallels with the physical actions of 'the accused' and Fletcher &Co or The Idiot, my point is that their understanding of right and wrong appears to be similarly vague.

This post made me emotional, for myself I guess:

Originally Posted by HapiSofi
Writing is hard. Getting published is hard. Editing and selling books is hard. Not every writer or every book is going to make it, and that's just plain sad. But there's nothing about that process that gives anyone the right to prey on their fellow beings.


As unpublished for a long time, I agree. The process is blood, sweat and beaches but then I'm self-learning (not 'taught' teached?? yet) and besides that all I have is a vision and determination. (send me pity! :D)

Besides all that, and the reason I'm here is I recently wrote to Strategic Books but the reply made me suspicious. Maybe I've developed a nose for scams or maybe it's just obvious in their reply below. (I was scammed for $25 once by an Agent Editor, but I thought, hey, why should an agent have to charge fees? They can't be selling their authors...)

The reply from Strategic Book arrived, 15th Oct 09 - yesterday! 'Right and wrong,' honestly, it's like venus and mars to them:

Thank you for the information you have provided. I may have something for
you. We have recently merged with a publishing group and they have asked us to immediately send them authors that we believe meet their criteria. I will
be forwarding this information to our sister publisher that likes situations
like this (smaller and more focused), and can move quickly.

So far, the feedback is very good from writers we have sent to them. They
have published over 1000 authors at this point and their marketing is going
international.

Please give them 3-5 days to get back to you. They are very diligent about
leads I send them. (Hint: Please start prepping your manuscript now, the
odds are greater than 90% they will want to see it based on the fact that we
sent you to them).

Please note that if your work is NOT FINISHED then please let me know and we will continue forward and try to sell it as your agency. The agency can deal with an unfinished work. The publisher cannot.

If you would like to speak with someone, please call Mark at 561-455-6066.

Good luck!

The Acquisitions Team

P.s. Their website is www.StrategicBookPublishing.com and if you don't hear
from them in 4 days, then please fill out their submission form. They
should email you within 3 days though.

Here is the press release about our working together.
http://www.aegpublishinggroup.com/aeg_pressrelease.html We are very proud of the business model we have put together.

Good things are happening! SEPTEMBER, 2009: China Partner is taking our
authors to the Beijing Book Show. Here is a link to a page from their
catalog. (Please don't ask what it says (smile))!
http://www.strategicbookgroup.com/StrategicBookGroup-China1.JPG
And, if you do not reach a deal with them, please let me know and we will
continue to look for other publishers for you. Just email me back if that's
the case, and I will drop you an email in a couple of weeks to see how
things are going.
--------------
OPT OUT: When you filled out the form you elected to receive emails from our
company. To be removed from receiving any further emails please reply or
forward this email with your email address to [email protected] and you
will be removed from any further emails.


No, no, no. There's several reasons why this mail was suspect to me, but maybe I shouldn't say and so give the enemy ammo?
 

victoriastrauss

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An update on the lawsuit from Writer Beware (it's still proceeding through the courts).

Writer Beware also had the chance to see one of Robert Fletcher's depositions (it's a public record document). Makes for interesting reading!

- Victoria
 
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AC Crispin

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Having read the deposition in question, may I humbly suggest that our very own "Uncle Jim" read through it and do one of his infamous "line by lines" on the juciest parts????

The results would be truly hilarious, I feel sure.

-Ann C. Crispin
 

James D. Macdonald

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Having read the deposition in question, may I humbly suggest that our very own "Uncle Jim" read through it and do one of his infamous "line by lines" on the juciest parts????

The results would be truly hilarious, I feel sure.

-Ann C. Crispin

I have indeed read it.

It is a thing of joy and a wonder forever.

When he goes to jail I'll send him a fruit basket.
 

AC Crispin

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Aw, c'mon, Uncle Jim. Just a few little comments on some of the more outrageous statements? My favorite is when Fletcher claims not to know the last name of his own bookkeeper. That's...classic.

LOL

-Ann C. Crispin
 

Momento Mori

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AC Crispin:
My favorite is when Fletcher claims not to know the last name of his own bookkeeper. That's...classic.

He didn't seem to know the surname of anyone who worked for him or indeed whether they were employees or independent contractors.

My favourite was when he said that he didn't sign any cheques - his book keeper basically does his signature to sign them for him.

MM
 

Shrouded

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It's interesting to note that even though he can't remember surnames or address' he knows the state and location of every 'employee'. Also note that he admits to using the names of now defunct employees. Isn't that identity theft?
 

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I read down through the whole thing. My goodness. How his left hand tries to blur over his right hand. :poke: A real piece of work.
 

WriterMomto3

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I think my favorite (or one of them) is when he says he pays $100 a month for his suite of executive offices in New York...