BOLO Clarence Busby? Reader Puzzled By RICO Defendant’s Absence; Says Busby Out Of Touch For ‘Months’
Should the government and litigants be on the lookout for Clarence Busby? He hasn’t been charged with a crime and, in September, he surrendered his claims to money seized by the U.S. Secret Service as part of its probe into the alleged criminal business practices of his company, Golden Panda Ad Builder of Acworth, Ga.
Prosecutors said the money was part of the proceeds of a wire-fraud, money-laundering and $100 million Ponzi scheme in which Busby and Golden Panda participated with AdSurfDaily Inc. of Quincy, Fla.
Busby identified himself as a minister. But he also is in the real-estate business, and last night a reader contacted us to say he has been unable to reach Busby.
“We are buying a house from him and canâ€™t seem to get in contact with him,” the reader said. “The last we heard, he was overseas starting up an internet company. We are a little concerned.”
The reader added that he has been unable to contact Busby “for the past couple of months.”
Here’s what we know about Busby: He played it cool as a cucumber when federal prosecutors announced the seizure of tens of millions of dollars last summer. Busby announced to Golden Panda members that his faith would get him through the dark hours. He composed a series of cloying Blog posts, assuring everyone that things would be just fine.
Clarence Busby lays on the syrup, to be sure. In court filings, he explained how he’d gone fishing with ASD President Andy Bowdoin.
“As a social courtesy to Bowdoin, I asked a pastor friend of mine, Rev. Charles Green, if he might bring his boat and join me in inviting Bowdoin on a relaxing fishing trip,” Busby told U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer. “I imagined that operating ASD involved a lot of stress, and I had heard Bowdoin liked to fish. I also wanted a respite from work. The invitation was extended and Bowdoin agreed to join us.”
Busby then explained how Golden Panda was born:
“On April 11, 2008, we fished at a lake in Brunswick, Georgia for a day. On that Day Bowdoin surprised me by recommending that I start a Chinese version of ASD,” Busby said.Â “Bowdoin suggested that I organize the business without him. He said, ‘I canâ€™t handle the business I already have,’ stating that I should be the one to create, own, and operate this Chinese version of ASD.
“I was interested in the idea, but did not have knowledge of computers and the web, so I thought Bowdoin should run it, but Bowdoin did not want to run it,” Busby continued. “I chose the name of Golden Panda Ad Builder Inc. and I had the company incorporated on May 15, 2008. At that time, I still thought that Bowdoin would end up running the business, so I placed his name as President of the company, although Bowdoin never actually took any step to run the company.
“Two and one half weeks before Golden Panda commenced operations on July 24, 2008, Bowdoin called me and reiterated that he did not have time for Golden Panda, had done nothing to help create it, and therefore thought I should be the one to own, operate, and control the business.
“I then decided that with the help of my kids that I really could run a web based advertising business on my own. On July 2, 2008, I amended the Golden Panda papers with the state, naming myself as the President and removing Bowdoinâ€™s name.”
In his court filings, Busby said he didn’t know Bowdoin “had prior run ins with the law” and had been arrested in Alabama for defrauding investors.
Busby did not say if he told his fishing partner about his own run-ins with the law: The Securities and Exchange Commission said Busby defrauded investors in the 1990s.
“[T]he Commission alleged that Busby violated the antifraud provisions of the securities laws by offering and selling investment contracts in connection with three different prime bank schemes,” the SEC said.
“Using misrepresentations and omissions in each of the three schemes, Busby raised money for purported trading programs in ‘prime bank’ notes by fraudulently representing to investors that the investments were risk-free and that the ventures would pay returns ranging from 750% to 10,000%. In total, Busby raised nearly $1 million from more than 70 investors. None of the investors earned the exorbitant returns promised by Busby,” the SEC said.
Busby settled the case with the SEC in May 1998 by agreeing not to break securities laws. The SEC waived a $15,000 penalty and accrued interest because Busby certified he was broke.
Almost 10 years to the month later, Busby went fishing with Andy Bowdoin. Both men now have been accused of racketeering in a class-action lawsuit brought by members of AdSurfDaily.