Judge Signs Forfeiture Order In AdSurfDaily Case; Gives Government Title To $65.8 Million In Bowdoin Bank Accounts; Case Resolved In ‘Entirety’
After more than 17 months, more than 165 court filings and more than $1 million in legal fees, ASD President Andy Bowdoin has lost the August 2008 civil forfeiture case and the government has been granted title to $65,838,999.70 seized from Bowdoin’s 10 Bank of America accounts.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, whom Bowdoin attempted to have disqualified from the case last month, has entered a default judgment and final order of forfeiture in the case.
In a footnote, Collyer said the order decreeing forfeiture “resolves all remaining issues and this forfeiture action in its entirety.”
As PatrickPretty.com first reported last year, three of Bowdoin’s accounts contained the exact same sum: $1,000,388.91. Why the accounts contained the exact same sum remains a mystery.
Another mystery is why Bowdoin, 75, initially submitted to the forfeiture on Jan. 13, 2009 — a year ago next week — but then changed his mind more than a month later and attempted to reassert his claims as a pro se litigant. Bowdoin’s former attorneys, Akerman Senterfitt, said in court filings that Bowdoin began to file pro se “without consulting with counsel and without bothering to advise counsel that he would be submitting motions on his own.”
Akerman Senterfitt filed a motion to withdraw as Bowdoin’s counsel, saying its representation of him had become unreasonably difficult.
Bowdoin’s pro se re-entry in the case coincided with the shift by the AdViewGlobal (AVG) autosurf to a “private association” structure. This shift was announced to AVG members on Feb. 26, 2009, after AVG said it had consulted with a company known as Pro Advocate Group.
Bowdoin signed the first of his pro se pleadings just one day before, on Feb. 25, 2009. Pro Advocate Group, which says it can help people practice law and medicine without a license through a private-association structure, is associated with Karl Dahlstrom.
In 1997, Dahlstrom was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for his participation in a securities scheme. In court documents in a tax case, Karl Dahlstrom is described as havingÂ â€œbeen in the abusive trust business for many years.”
Bowdoin has not publicly revealed the identities of his pro se advisers, describing them as members of a “group.” Nor has Bowdoin revealed how much he paid for the pro se advice.
Bowdoin, however, told members in a letter published on the now-defunct Pro-ASD Surf’s Up forum in March 2009 that he had paid his professional lawyers $800,000 before firing them. In September 2009, Bowdoin said his legal fees had exceeded $1 million.
“Now I’ve spent over a million dollars in legal fees to get your money back, and to stay out of prison,” Bowdoin said on Sept. 21, according to a transcript by the U.S. Secret Service. Bowdoin made the remark in a conference call with members. The Secret Service transcribed the call, and then filed the documentÂ in court.
Collyer refused to disqualify herself last month, saying Bowdoin no longer had standing in the case.
Read the final order of forfeiture in the August 2008 case against assets connected to ASD.
Collyer earlier ordered the forfeiture of more than $14 million from the bank accounts of Golden Panda Ad Builder, whose assets also were seized in the ASD case.
Bowdoin did score a win of sorts in the forfeiture litigation. He asked for — and was granted — an evidentiary hearing in 2008 to refute the government’s Ponzi allegations and to ask for the emergency release of $2 million because the company could not pay its rent and hosting bills and needed money to implement a new business plan.
Prosecutors did not object to the hearing, but pointed out that Bowdoin had $1 million in a bank on the Caribbean island nation of Antigua in an account under a different name.
Bowdoin asserted his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, advising the court through counsel that he would not testify at the evidentiary hearing he had requested. Surf’s Up described the performance of ASD’s witnesses at the hearing as uniformly “excellent,” while at once describing the government’s case as “not so much.”
At the same time, the forum helped spread the rumor that the government had admitted that ASD was not a Ponzi scheme.
In November 2008, Collyer ruled that ASD had not demonstrated at the hearing that it was a lawful business and not a Ponzi scheme. A month later, prosecutors filed a second forfeiture complaint against ASD-connected assets, restating the Ponzi allegations despite the Surf’s Up claim that prosecutors had admitted ASD was not a Ponzi scheme.
The AVG autosurf was laying the groundwork for launch within days of Collyer’s November 2008 ruling against ASD. Promoters highlighted its purported location in Uruguay as a reason to join.
AVG suspended cashouts in June 2009, exercising its version of a “rebates aren’t guaranteed” clause.
Dozens of pro se litigants attempted to intervene in the ASD case, largely causing the court docket to swell from about 40 entries in January 2009 to its current total of 166.