Two Mustang publishers accused of embezzling money from thousands of authors and musicians around the world have finally learned their fate.
Richard and Ryan Tate reached a plea agreement with Attorney General Mike Hunter Wednesday.
While this plea deal means the Tates will not serve any jail time, the attorney general and his team felt it was more important for the victims to regain their losses.
The investigation into father and son Richard and Ryan Tate has been ongoing for more than a year and a half. Now, each of the men has pleaded guilty to 38 felonies and six misdemeanors, and will have to pay at least $820,000 combined in restitution during a 20-year probation.
“This is not a deferred sentence,” Hunter says. “It’s a suspended sentence, so they’re going to spend their lives as convicted felons.”
The Tates already gave $109,000 of the settlement sum for the attorney general's office to distribute to authors and musicians, more than 2,200 of whom have filed official complaints against the publishers.
Hunter says, “They used their creativity and their artistry to create intellectual property, which was mishandled, misused, converted in many cases by the Tates, and they deserve to be paid for that.”
Prosecutors believe they still have not identified all the victims, and expect the payout to continue to grow with new reports. “The total amount of restitution as of today’s date is based on documentation provided by less than 500 of the 2,200-plus complaints that we’ve received,” says lead prosecutor John Settle.
In November, Hunter announced a database for artists to retrieve their files and encourages anyone who has not yet done so to report their monetary losses to the Consumer Protection Unit with as much documentation as possible. Investigator Brandon Thompson says they are looking for, “proof that you made payments, like bank statements, credit card statements, signed contract.”
They are finalizing the repayment system right now.
Victims have until July 1, 2019 to file their claim with the Consumer Protection Unit. To learn how, call (405) 521-2029 or click here.