Hundreds of writers and musicians around the world are applauding the arrest of two Oklahoma publishers, Richard and Ryan Tate. The father and son were arrested Thursday for embezzlement, extortion and racketeering, and the state attorney general believes there may be even more victims.
AG Mike Hunter's office launched an investigation into Tate Publishing and Tate Music Group in June 2015 after receiving the first complaint, but when the businesses closed in January 2017, hundreds more complaints flooded the Consumer Protection Unit.
“We felt that the escalating pattern of complaints that we were receiving since their closure, so in order to seek justice we decided this was the right time to file,” said CPU Chief Julie Bays.
Author Heather D. Nelson is one of the writers who says she paid Tate Publishing to print multiple books. After not seeing any return on her investment, Nelson started focusing her efforts on her blog, where she has started telling the stories of other writers in the same boat.
“I have spoken to people who used their disability income, their retirement savings and spent everything that they had because they believed they had a story to tell,” said Nelson.
Nelson, who lives in Connecticut, said the writers have banded together through social media after learning of the similarities in their encounters with the Tates.
“During the first original portions of production, things always seemed to go well for everybody,” said Nelson, “and it was when the book was done, the CD was cut, everything was live, that things would then go downhill, and that’s when the inconsistencies would fall in.”
The state has received more than 800 complaints about the businesses run by Richard and Ryan Tate.
Court documents show the victims paid the Tates through a business account, but that money was transferred into personal checking accounts, and the victims never received the services and products they paid for. Plus, when the companies closed in January, court documents state that the Tates threatened to erase the files in their system unless the writer or musician paid them a fee. Those who paid the fee say they never received their property.
So far, the attorney general has only filed nine charges against each of the men, as the first step to prevent further fraud. Just over a week ago, victims reported new correspondence from the Tates, promising to complete what they started.
Hunter said, “We became aware of that and it was certainly one of the considerations in us moving as quickly as we did.”
Hunter’s office does still plan to file charges for each case with valid evidence.
“We are going to do our best to try to exact whatever restitution we can from the Tates and their assets,” said Hunter. “If they’ve attempted to hide their assets, we’re going to be undaunted in our efforts to find those assets, but they’re also going to be held accountable. These are crimes.”
Investigators have a long road ahead of them, though, to track down the cash, as the Tates also just lost a $2 million lawsuit against the Xerox Corporation. The authors and musicians are celebrating and spreading the word anyway, because now, other artists will not fall victim.
“I don’t think he’s too worried about my $770, so I had kind of written that off,” said former contract bassist Michael Myers, “but I’m willing to talk to people about it.”
To file a complaint against the Tate businesses, call the Consumer Protection Unit at (405) 521-2029 or click here.