Part XXXIII: How About an Academy Reward Party? (Part 2)
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Days of Our Lives - in the Slammer :-)
“Are you sitting?” (Long silence) “We’ve been conned.”
Neil's words rang in my head for a few moments and yet, I recall feeling no surprise. It was as if I really knew at some level of my being that something just wasn't right with this situation all along, and I was finally admitting to it. And yet I had gone through the motions of coordinating the event and doing all that was necessary to bring it to completion, even without an initial deposit. Why had I not heard the Universal "whispers" this time? Why had I not acknowledged doubtful feelings? Where was my radar? Where were the sign posts during these months? Perhaps the answer was being revealed...
Neil told me in that phone call that Harbour Marketing's "president", Joe Perishak, aka Joseph Gill, was picked up in Vermont that week. I think he told me that I would be hearing from the authorities. Neil claimed he had no previous knowledge of wrongdoing and was also a "victim" in the situation.
I heard from the authorities in Vermont shortly after. They not only gave me background on the situation, but wanted to gather all evidence from my side pertaining to my transaction with Gill. Here are the details as they were related to me...
Joseph Gill (aka Perichak) was a major con artist who was being hunted by the FBI for years. But he kept changing his name and as a truly talented and professional criminal, avoided capture. He and his girlfriend were involved in major scams involving millions of dollars. The Super Bowl events that were represented in the brochures and graphics that Neil had shown me when we first met? Gill had conned clients out of something like three million dollars for those Super Bowl events. The actual events never happened.
This was the same thing that he was doing for the "Academy Award" promotion for which I was contracted. He was taking the money from the clients - in this case, the movie theatre chains and shopping malls - with no intention of delivering the promotions or paying the vendors. He was using the vendors - like me - to produce the product in order to entice the clients to pay him.
The posters, graphics and other promotional items were all produced by a small business like mine, a graphics company in Vermont who was asked, as I was, to wait for "payment in full" until Gill received his payment from the clients. So we all delivered the goods, trusting that we would be paid as promised. In the meantime, Gill received the monies from the theatre chains and malls - and we are talking here about major chains and malls throughout North America - and disappeared with the funds.
Now, just at that time - what appeared to be at just the right time - a woman executive with a mall in the northeast took special notice of the promotion I had put together with the photos of the soap stars, etc. She thought it was a fantastic promotion. But for some reason it bothered her. It triggered her memory. The promotion reminded her of a past situation that involved a scam. She called the local authorities and that's when the FBI stepped in and found and picked up Gill and his girlfriend, who were still in Vermont. There was some suspicion that Neil Zaslavsky may have been involved in some way, but they had no evidence against him.
Gill was in prison and the authorities told me that with the long trail of evidence they had against him, he would remain there for many, many years.
We Can Expect Payback When?
I was told that I would be hearing from the Courts in Vermont with regard to a declaration of victim losses that I would be asked to provide. They also said that Gill would be required by law to pay restitution to all entities and businesses that had been victims of his scams over the years. Restitution? Now that's an interesting concept! I was curious about that. He would be sitting in prison for many years. Let's see. How could that be arranged? Would they be providing Gill with a telephone and fax machine (I wasn't thinking computers in 1997!)? Perhaps in his spare time (of which he would certainly have plenty) he could create new scams to produce the millions of dollars to return to his victims? In other words, where on earth would someone sitting in prison for years get the money to pay restitution - millions of dollars of restitution at that? Ah, the law can be ironic. :-)
I received a Declaration of Victim Losses from the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, in July of 1997. I provided a letter to the court, the itemized breakdown of monies (that I showed you above) and copies of the signed contracts with Harbour Marketing. I also enclosed a copy of the letter I sent to Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso, the soap stars, via their management.
I don't have a copy of that letter, but from memory I can give you the essence.
But first, I need to tell you that the situation was of grave importance and a very serious one for the television actors. I have never watched soap operas, but I discovered that the reputation of soap stars must remain pristine and flawless throughout their careers or else it could mean the end of their careers. And these were the two most popular soap stars on the air with a major fan base. NBC had to do major damage control.
Allow me to backtrack for a moment...
The authorities had provided me with the names and contacts for the theatre chains and malls that were involved in the promotion. I attempted damage control myself at this point. The promotions had been advertised and publicized already and the winners had been selected at all the theatres and malls. There were shock waves at the corporate level when the companies discovered that their monies were gone and there would be no promotion. I spoke with the corporate offices and offered to provide the events here in Los Angeles as planned, but to do so at a discounted price if they wanted to proceed. I was willing to make minimal profit if I could help them all "save face" with the public. I was not personally out of pocket any actual money - just my time and effort. And I would have preferred that it not be for naught. They expressed gratitude for the offer but said they were so upset by everything that they just wanted to let it all go, put the whole thing behind them, and write off the loss.
On the other hand, NBC and the soap stars could not just put the matter behind them. Something had to be done to preserve the stars' image and reputation. So NBC, at their own expense, flew in all of the winners from across the nation, set them up in nice hotels and brought them to the studios to watch the tapings of the shows. Cool move.
Now back to my letter to the stars...and my final conclusion with regard to this entire occurrence and why the events transpired as they did...
The Universe - Central Intelligence, Upper Level
In contemplating how I could have "missed" the cues and become involved in such a negative situation, especially since I had become so attuned to my guidance and intuition, a light suddenly came on and realization hit me. Was it a rationalization? I don't think so.
I came to the conclusion that the Universe wanted me to fulfill this mission and create a wonderful promotion that would be noticed in order to get Joseph Gill off the streets so that he would not continue to harm others and cause such great losses in the future. I explained in my letter to the soap stars that although it appeared initially to be very negative, in reality, we were all instruments in helping to correct a situation that needed correction. And that turned out to be a positive thing.
That is why I believed I forged ahead and didn't received any "cues."
P.S. There is one last note that I feel is interesting and worth mentioning about this. The fact is that Joseph Gill was, in my opinion, a brilliant marketer. He could have made a huge amount of money doing exactly what he did, only doing it honestly. I think he had real talent. I did mention this to the authorities when I spoke with them. They explained the psychological workings of a con artist's mind. They told me that it is the actual "con" that gives them the rush, that they are addicted to. That is why they do it. I found that very interesting.
To be continued...
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