Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Wednesday, May 9, 2001
CORNYN CRACKS DOWN ON TWO HOUSTON TELEMARKETING SCHEMES
AG and Harris County Attorney Target Bogus Ads in Law Enforcement Publications
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Harris County Attorney Michael Stafford have joined forces to file a lawsuit today against individuals soliciting payments from hundreds of businesses nationwide for bogus advertisements in seldom-published law enforcement magazines. In a separate case, Cornyn and Stafford obtained a final injunctive order, including a $300,000 judgment, against three other individuals previously sued for operating a similar fraudulent telemarketing scheme out of Houston.
"We will continue to shut down these deceptive telemarketing organizations who make fraudulent representations to consumers and tarnish the image of Texas law enforcement agencies," Attorney General Cornyn said.
The latest lawsuit is the fourth in a series of such lawsuits to crack down on these phony organizations. Monroe White, a.k.a. Islam Muttilib, began soliciting consumers several years ago. He had a number of people working for him who telephoned primarily out-of-state companies seeking money for law enforcement magazine advertisements. The defendant used a variety of assumed names for his publications that implied affiliation with state troopers, sheriffs and police. Some of the seldom-published publications used were Children's Protection Magazine, School & Domestic Violence Magazine, and Peace Officers Yearbook.
The State obtained a temporary restraining order in the Harris County ancillary court forbidding White from conducting any telemarketing business until he is in compliance with Texas law. The temporary restraining order also freezes the defendants' personal and business assets. The lawsuit itself seeks fines, penalties, attorney's costs and restitution to the injured customers.
The second case involves a lawsuit filed last October by Cornyn and Stafford against John Gilbert Robinson, Nathaniel Peace and Bruce Lynn Middleton for soliciting payments for bogus advertisements in non-existent law enforcement publications. They, too, used a variety of assumed names for their publications that implied affiliation with state troopers, sheriffs and police. Some of the non-existent publications names were State Police Journal, State Police Enforcers Journal, Trooper Yearbook, Local Police Force Review and Trooper Gazette. Robinson was also previously named in a suit filed in Travis County for operating another bogus telemarketing scheme.
The State obtained a permanent injunction forbidding Robinson, Peace and Middleton from conducting any type of telephone solicitation business. The final order also provides a judgment that includes $20,000 in fines and penalties, $60,000 in attorney fee reimbursement to the State and $220,000 dollars in restitution.
In both the White and Robinson cases, consumers were told that the money donated would be used to educate the public on crime, help keep children off of drugs, or benefit family members of slain law enforcement officers. Sometimes businesses were told on the phone or "invoices" were mailed indicating the payment for advertisements had already been approved when they had not.
Additionally, the fraudulent telemarketers made harassing phone calls regarding bogus ad accounts, and businesses ended up paying false invoices that ranged from $75 to $1000 per advertisement, per publication. The money collected did not go to charity but was instead pocketed and spent by defendants.
Persons operating a public safety entity or publication must be in compliance with the Texas Occupations Code that requires a registration statement and fee to be filed with the Texas Secretary of State. The organizations must also make required disclosures to their contributors and advertisers and have each of its solicitors file a registration statement and a bond. None of the defendants in either case were registered as public safety publications or as telemarketers as required by Texas law.
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