BLECHMAN: Problems Apparent In DNA 3 Weeks Into His Tenure As CEO; Company Email Tuesday Was ‘Bull’ From ‘Backdoor Guy’

EDITOR’S NOTE: Clarity did not emerge in a phone interview Wednesday with former Data Network Affiliates’ CEO Dean Blechman. Blechman was candid at times and guarded at times. His guardedness, however, seemed largely involuntary. It was as though Blechman, who was courteous throughout the interview, would have chosen full-throttle openness had a handler not been on the line. Indeed, Blechman seemed eager to answer questions — and occasionally interrupted the handler to make an emphatic point.

Although the Blog anticipated a far-ranging interview with Blechman at an agreed-upon time of 2:30 p.m., the sweeping interview did not come off. Blechman himself scheduled the interview and provided information to the Blog prior to the session.

At 12:15 p.m., however, the Blog was notified electronically by the handler, who described himself as a conflict-management strategist between Blechman and DNA, that the interview would not occur.

Blechman, he said, had decided to issue a news release by the end of March — as opposed to participating in an interview yesterday — because he needed more time to assemble facts. The handler previously had not been a part of any communication between Blechman and the Blog, and the Blog was surprised by his sudden presence.

It is not unusual for a third party such as an attorney or a PR specialist to be present in interviews with journalists. What was unusual about the handler’s presence was that he served as a sort of mediator between Blechman and DNA, which the Blog believed set the stage for the level of candor to be reduced significantly.

The Blog responded by phoning the handler, saying that, unless Blechman himself canceled the interview, the Blog was proceeding as though it would take place as scheduled at 2:30. At 2:31, the handler — with Blechman on the line — called the Blog. After civil banter among the parties, the Blog began to ask Blechman a question to clarify events.

Several minutes of contentiousness then ensued between the Blog and the handler, with the Blog questioning why a third party had become involved at the 11th hour and whether the handler was speaking for Blechman. During the early contentiousness, Blechman mostly remained silent. He eventually spoke — sometimes speaking over the handler.

From the Blog’s point of view, the presence of the handler — and this is NOT a comment on the handler as a person — added a layer of clumsiness and contributed to an unclear situation becoming even more unclear. In the Blog’s view, the purpose of the interview was to let Blechman explain his involvement in DNA and the reasons he decided to leave. People are interested in that information, including DNA members who read this Blog’s coverage of the upstart firm, which Blechman conceded has a considerable PR problem.

Only hours before the interview, in preliminary remarks and in a back-and-forth with the Blog, Blechman said the “real truth” would come out during the interview. We continue to believe that Blechman was sincere. Our analysis now is that events intervened after Blechman’s initial contact with the Blog yesterday and that he was less open than he intended to be. Still, some information emerged from the session.

The handler did not speak for attribution during the call, which lasted for 58 minutes. There were other periods of contentiousness during the call, owing — from the Blog’s point of view — to the handler’s attempt to shape the session and limit its scope.

Because many questions remain unanswered and no party has emerged to answer them authoritatively, the DNA story may find itself percolating on Blogs and forums for weeks.  Speculation that Phil Picollo is involved in DNA is apt to continue. Piccolo is a lightning rod for MLM critics.

At the same time, concerns about the propriety, safety and legality of DNA continue to build.

Many issues — and an air of mystery — swirl around DNA, an upstart MLM company that is recruiting members to record the license-plate numbers of cars for entry in a database. Blechman, a longtime businessman , has found himself the center of unwanted attention even though he spent only a few weeks at the firm.

But an effort is under way to get to the truth of what’s driving events at DNA, Blechman said.  Yesterday morning, prior to the afternoon’s phone session and before the handler became involved, Blechman described the events as “bizarre.”

Why DNA has not been able to get a handle on events remained a mystery — even after the interview. Blechman, though, asked that anyone who has evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone associated with DNA to email him at dbi5@optonline.net

Now, the incomplete story . . .

Dean Blechman painted a picture yesterday that Data Network Affiliates (DNA) was a company not in control of its own message, including the message it issued to announce his departure.

That message, authored by person Blechman did not identify by name but described as a “back door guy,” misspelled his name as Bleckman, the former DNA chief said. It was unclear if Blechman knows the person’s name.

And Blechman complained that DNA had butchered the departure announcement, which the company withheld from the membership for nearly a week, in other ways.

Blechman made it clear that he left DNA for good on Feb. 24. The company announced the news March 2, six days after the departure. Blechman questioned yesterday why the company had waited so long.

He faulted himself for not recognizing unspecified problems at DNA earlier, conceding that “I should have done a bit more responsible [job of] due diligence.”

“There’s no way I’d get involved in something” that was not above-board, Blechman said. He acknowledged that it “took me three or four weeks to see the light about this.”

In the end, he said, the only thing to do was to leave.

Among the issues, he said prior to the interview, were communications from the company that he described as “bizarre” and misleading.

During the interview, Blechman said the announcement by DNA of his departure was a case in point. Two days ago, the company announced that Blechman had left “[d]ue to the fact that Mr. Blechman is a Director and High Equity Owner of a high visibility network marketing company” and that there was potential for “a conflict of interest.”

There is “no conflict of interest,” Blechman said flatly. “The press release that came out of DNA support was incorrect. It was bull, and I’m very upset [about] it.”

Blechman said the “back door guy” was putting out “stuff that I don’t even see to cover his [behind] and tail.”

For weeks, multilevel-marketing (MLM) aficionados have speculated that Phil Piccolo, a notorious figure in MLM circles, somehow had become involved in DNA.

Blechman did not rule out yesterday that Piccolo was involved. When pressed for a definitive answer, Blechman suggested that one could be forthcoming.

Piccolo is the subject of considerable scorn online. Whether he is part of the company remains unclear, and rumors of his involvement continue to swirl.

A source told the PP Blog that DNA’s support operation denied that Piccolo was involved with the company. Piccolo’s critics have said he has been known to use aliases, and researchers have suggested there is a digital footprint that links Piccolo to the firm, based on an IP address and a domain name associated with Piccolo.

A DNA affiliate URL that begins with the word “topposition” resolves to a page dubbed “The Corporate Team.” The gmail address that DNA uses for support is listed in the upper-right corner of the page. It appears that no other affiliate page at DNA includes the support address in that position.

The information suggests that one or more members of the “Corporate Team” are using DNA’s support email address to field inquiries from members of the “Corporate Team” downline group. The Blog viewed the affiliate sites of three ordinary members of DNA yesterday. None of the sites had DNA’s support address in the upper-right corner, which suggests — but does not demonstrate conclusively — that DNA support has its own downline team.

DNA added the gmail support address to its “Contact Us” tab only days ago — after Blechman’s departure — and has not explained why it is describing itself in emails to members as a leading-edge company while at once using Google’s free gmail service for support.

A bizarre autoresponder message titled “Top 16 Customer Service Issues” was sent from DNA’s support address Tuesday, according to a source who provided a copy of the message to the PP Blog.

Item No. 16 on the Top 16 list provided an explanation for why DNA’s domain used an address in the Cayman Islands. The reason, according to the autoresponder message, was that the company chose “privacy” protection by paying a registrar $5 in a bid to prevent management from having to “put up with 100 stupid calls a day.”

Whether such a bizarre message had the approval of DNA’s company officers is unclear. Also unclear is why DNA’s emails to members do not list a street address. The lack of a street address leads to questions about transparency and potentially brings compliance issues into play.

Item No. 5 on the Top 16 list, meanwhile, claimed that “D.N.A. Management is Aware of many FALSE Rumors…The D.N.A. Legal Department is on top of such and is taking Legal Action…You can not become the #1 record breaking company in THE WORLD… Without people taking cheap shots at you…  In the mean time keep on keeping on…”

Prior to the numbered items, the autoresponder message claimed: “The D.N.A. company is signing a MEGA MILLION DOLLAR DEAL with a publicly known industry giant. Between this agreement being sign (sic) and the D.N.A. Top Secret Product being announced on March 27th, 2010. (sic)  D.N.A. is positioning itself to be (sic) Global Giant.”

On Tuesday, the PP Blog reported that a domain titled DeanBlechman.com listed the same Cayman Islands address as DNA’s domain and redirected to DNA’s website.

“That was a surprise,” Blechman said yesterday.

On another matter, Blechman described DNA President Arthur Kurek, who remains with the company, as a “good man.”

Nonetheless, Blechman said, “There’s no way you’re going to see me affiliated with DNA.”

“My name — and my family’s name — has an impeccable reputation for integrity,” Blechman said.

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5 Responses to “BLECHMAN: Problems Apparent In DNA 3 Weeks Into His Tenure As CEO; Company Email Tuesday Was ‘Bull’ From ‘Backdoor Guy’”

  1. Would seem there are indeed some very serious issues that there was a need for a firewall to steer the interview from the real, tough questions.

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  2. What I found most interesting from this interview was Dean’s claim that he did not do his proper due diligence on DNA. According to all the hype when DNA appeared on the scene this was his baby. He was the one who formed DNA. Strange that the founder of DNA did not do his due diligence on his “own” company. So if Dean was not the one who formed this company, who did?

    This also means that DNA has been lying since day one about Dean forming this company. He was also complicit in allowing this story to be told and not correcting it, as he now seems to be trying to do. The question has to be asked, Why? I don’t see Dean as clean in all of this as he is now trying to claim.

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  3. Mr. Blechman left DNA because of the investigation by the AG’s Office in Florida and that he found out that Phil was part of the company.

    What I could never really understand was why would an executive of two different legit companies want to dirty his reputation by associating and participating in something as shady as DNA.

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  4. Maybe the company showed him a bunch of check waving You Tube videos from a bunch of “happy customers” during the interview process and he believed them. I doubt there was a candid disclosure with an NDA attached per legitimate company practices.

    He may have known the game before he came on board and is abandoning the ship because of articles on a irrelevant, know nothing blog, but then again, he may have become aware of the situation as he got up to speed. iNetGlobal’s ex-CEO went to investigators after he discovered the company was fraudulent and left.

    Jack Arons: What I could never really understand was why would an executive of two different legit companies want to dirty his reputation by associating and participating in something as shady as DNA.

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