TELEXFREE: Prosecutors Docket Prospective Witness List And Exhibits Against James Merrill: Understanding The Background
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story, which easily could be titled “What NOT To Do In MLM,” summarizes a few of the witnesses and exhibits the U.S. government may use against TelexFree’s James Merrill when his trial gets under way Oct. 24 in Massachusetts. The background provided below is based on research by the PP Blog. Prosecutors filed their witness/exhibit lists on Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court. For our Brazilian readers, we’ll note here that the United States is expected to call at least one member of the Brazilian Federal Police to testify. U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Hillman is presiding. In total, dozens of witnesses may testify, including some who have been sued by the SEC, TelexFree Trustee Stephen B. Darr or private attorneys. There are hundreds of government exhibits, some collected by the Massachusetts Securities Division and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
EXHIBIT: The government may introduce a document filed by TelexFree with the Alabama Public Service Commission in March 2014.
BACKGROUND: This document potentially could be used to demonstrate Merrill lied to regulators and business consultants. It was filed on March 20, 2014, and asserts TelexFree was “financially qualified” to operate in the state as a telecom company and that its “current financials Show considerable net worth.”
Less than a month later, however, TelexFree filed for bankruptcy, raising questions about the truthfulness of its telecom applications in various states. The document, which the PP Blog published before TelexFree’s bankruptcy filing, also ties Merrill to Indiana MLM accountant Joe Craft, a former interim TelexFree executive listed Sept. 26 by the government as a witness. Craft was sued alongside Merrill and others by the SEC in April 2014. He later filed a pleading in which he said he had concluded TelexFree was a Ponzi scheme selling unregistered securities and that he had been misled by TelexFree insiders.
Joseph Isaacs, a Florida-based consultant for TelexFree, helped prepare TelexFree’s telecom filing in Alabama and other states. Isaacs also now is listed as a government witness. Filings in Missouri say Isaacs told regulators there that Merrill had not been truthful when submitting an affidavit.
EXHIBIT: The government may introduce a photo of Merrill posing with a Hummer vehicle in TelexFree promos.
BACKGROUND: Ponzi/pyramid schemes and flashy rides are virtually inseparable.
In 2014, a federal judge ordered TelexFree pitchman Santiago De La Rosa — an SEC defendant — to sell two BMWs and a Land Rover Range Rover. De La Rosa now is listed as a government witness.
EXHIBIT: The government may introduce a September 2013 email that shows Merrill was aware of a criminal indictment and prison term imposed against AdSurfDaily President Andy Bowdoin in a Ponzi case with remarkable similarities to TelexFree.
BACKGROUND: The email described above allegedly was sent to Merrill by MLM attorney Jeffrey Babener. Babener now is listed as a government witness. Darr, the bankruptcy trustee, has said Babener informed TelexFree in August 2013 that it was operating a pyramid scheme, but TelexFree nevertheless continued to gather money.
The ASD case, which also came up in the prosecution of Zeek Rewards’ operator Paul Burks, potentially could be used to demonstrate Merrill was engaging in willful blindness in his operation of TelexFree.
One of Merrill’s MLM attorneys — Gerald Nehra — has been sued by Darr, private attorneys and the court-appointed receiver in the SEC’s case against Zeek. Nehra also was a figure in the ASD case. He now is listed as a government witness against Merrill.
EXHIBIT: A video by Thomas More of Newport Beach, Calif.
BACKGROUND: The SEC has warned for years that scams spread on social media. More, now listed as a government witness, was a TelexFree pitchman who was listed as a “winner” in the Zeek Rewards Ponzi- and pyramid scheme. Nehra once was a speaker at a TelexFree event in Newport Beach.
EXHIBIT: Records from various banks and financial vendors for Merrill or TelexFree.
BACKGROUND: Follow the money.
NOTE: Our thanks to the ASD Updates Blog.