Bowdoin ‘Most Interesting’ Figure In ASD Story; Prosecutors’ Court Wins Have Secured Control Over More Than 99 Percent Of Liquid Assets In Forfeiture Cases
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is about the “Most Interesting ASD Figure” poll conducted by the PP Blog. It also includes data from court files that suggest federal prosecutors have won court battles that have secured control over more than 99 percent (99.2 percent) of the liquid assets available in the ASD/Golden Panda civil-forfeiture cases — with less than 1 percent (0.8 percent) of the remaining liquid assets still tied up in litigation.
Here, now, the story . . .
UPDATED 7:40 A.M. ET (U.S.A.) It is said — perhaps apocryphally — that Groucho Marx once entered a Groucho Marx look-alike contest and finished third.
A similar fate almost befell AdSurfDaily President Andy Bowdoin, one of seven choices in our poll that asked readers to select the “Most Interesting Figure In The Alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi Scheme Story.”
But in the final days of the poll, Bowdoin, who had trailed early and was in second place at various times, eked out a win over eventual second-pace finisher Bob Guenther and the five other poll subjects.
Voting was light with only 53 votes cast, and the sample was not scientifically meaningful. The results, however, at least suggest that readers interested in ASD consider Bowdoin the star of his own story — a story that began in August 2008, when the U.S. Secret Service seized tens of millions of dollars from 10 Bowdoin bank accounts.
ASD was a Florida-based Ponzi scheme that had engaged in wire fraud, money-laundering and the sale of unregistered securities, federal prosecutors said. Just last week prosecutors scored a big win, when a federal judge issued a final order of forfeiture in the August 2008 civil forfeiture case, granting the government title to more than $65.8 million seized from Bowdoin accounts.
In July, the judge issued an order granting the government title to more than $14 million seized from the bank accounts of Golden Panda Ad Builder, whose assets were seized as part of the ASD civil-forfeiture case. A second civil-forfeiture case — filed in December 2008 against ASD/Golden Panda-connected assets — appears to be nearly resolved. The December case involves only a fraction of the money seized in the overall case.
To date, prosecutors have scored wins that secured more than $79.88 million — more than 99 percent of the available cash pool (liquid assets) in both cases, with less than 1 percent of the pool still in litigation. The total pool of liquid assets in both cases amounts to about $80.52 million, according to court records. A prosecution win of the fraction of 1 percent remaining to be secured is a virtual certainty. Neither the ASD side nor the Golden Panda side has secured any financial wins. Golden Panda quit trying shortly after the August 2008 case was brought.
Here is a way to look at the pool from both cases as a fraction. Of the $80.52 million available, prosecutors have control over $79.88 million: 79.88/80.52 — or 99.2 percent. If the prosecutors gain control over more than $600,000 remaining in litigation, they will have gained control over 100 percent of the available pool.
The current cash pool does not count illiquid assets such as real estate, a Cabana boat, automobiles, jet skis and marine equipment that must be sold before it can be converted to cash and added to the pool.
A big wild card is whether Bowdoin, who initially submitted to the forfeiture in January 2009 under advice from paid counsel but attempted to reassert his claims in February 2009 as a pro se litigant, will appeal. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in November 2009 that Bowdoin no longer has standing in the August 2008 case. Bowdoin never established standing in the December 2008 case.
Bowdoin, 75, captured 36 percent of the vote in the “Most Interesting” poll; Guenther, 62, a government critic who led the poll at times, finished second, capturing 32 percent of the vote.
Guenther is the de facto head of the ASD Members Business Association (ASDMBA). He emerged as a harsh critic of the manner in which prosecutors have handled the case, claiming he planned to rely on “political connections” to embarrass the Justice Department.
â€œSoon, very soon, I am going to call on some political connections, and I am going to share everything I knew then, know now and everything I tried to provide you with,â€ Guenther said in an email last year to one of the prosecutors.
Among Guenther’s assertions were that the government ignored leads he provided and that a prosecutor did not return more than 50 emails he had sent. Guenther pleaded guilty to a count of bank fraud in the 1990s in a case in which 10 other counts were withdrawn in a plea deal. Some ASDMBA members said they would not have contributed to the organization, which gathered money with the aim of protecting members’ interests in the ASD case, had they known Guenther had a felony record.
Some ASDMBA members have complained that Guenther did not provide transparent accounting of how the organization spent its money. Guenther said ASDMBA’s accounting was transparent, describing his critics as uninformed whiners and liberals.
Finishing third in the poll were the “Surf’s Up Mods.” Surf’s Up was a Pro-ASD forum that suddenly went missing nine days ago, about two weeks after Bowdoin reportedly made an appeal through a third party for members to search for videos of ASD “rallies.”
â€œAndy [Bowdoin] wants to know if any of you took Videos and/or Audios of â€˜himâ€™ speaking at any of the ASD Rallies,â€ according to a Dec. 21 post on Surf’s Up. The post cited a third-party email.
â€œThe government is stating that Andy said certain things during the rallies and Andy is confident that he did not, but he does not have the proof without being able to provide the video/audio footage.
â€œPlease share this message with your entire organization so that we can get it out to the masses yet today hopefully to see if someone has the supporting evidence for Andy,â€ the post urged. â€œIf any of you DO have the video footage (or audio recording) then transfer it to DVD and and contact Catherine Parker at [email address deleted].â€
The post did not specify precisely what video evidence Bowdoin hoped to obtain from members. In the August 2008 forfeiture complaint, prosecutors entered an exhibit that included a members’ transcription of remarks Bowdoin allegedly had made at a July 2008 rally in Miami.
In the exhibit, Bowdoin identified George and Judy Harris as ASD employees, without telling members Harris was his stepson and that Judy Harris — the wife of George — also was a member of the Bowdoin family. Bowdoin described George Harris as head of ASD’s real-estate division, and Judy Harris as a clerical employee.
Prosecutors later said that George Harris and his mother — Edna Faye Bowdoin, Andy Bowdoin’s wife — used more than $177,000 in illegal proceeds from two ASD accounts at Bank of America and opened an account at a third bank. The account was opened on June 10, 2008, less than two weeks after an ASD “rally” had concluded in Las Vegas.
Before June had come to an end, prosecutors said, George Harris used more than $157,000 of the opening deposit to pay off the mortgage on the Tallahassee home he shared with his wife. The transaction was completed via wire transfer, with George Harris making the request over the telephone, prosecutors said.
George and Judy Harris and Edna Faye Bowdoin were identified in the December 2008 forfeiture complaint as beneficiaries of ASD’s illegal conduct. The AdViewGlobal (AVG) autosurf, which launched after the seizure of ASD’s assets, later identified George and Judy Harris as AVG’s owners. Prosecutors seized the Harris home in the December 2008 forfeiture complaint, and neither George nor Judy Harris filed a claim to the home.
Some ASD members said Bowdoin was the silent head of AVG. Surf’s Up received ASD’s official endorsement on Nov. 27, 2008, eight days after a key court ruling went against ASD. AVG emerged in the days ahead as an autosurf purportedly headquartered in Uruguay, and some of the Surf’s Up Mods peeled off and started a forum to promote AVG.
Surf’s Up, whose members reportedly sent brownies and delicious baked goods to Bowdoin after he was implicated in the alleged Ponzi scheme and declared he was “too honest” to testify after Bowdoin had taken the 5th Amendment in the forfeiture case, received 17 percent of the vote in the “Most Interesting Figure” poll.
Finishing in fourth place, with 8 percent of the vote, were the “Conspiracy Theorists” — those ASD members who speculated that President Kennedy was assassinated because he planned to expose a banking conspiracy and that President George W. Bush planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some of the “Conspiracy Theorists” also claimed that the United States passed secret legislation in the 1990s in anticipation of a visit by reptilian aliens.
Curtis Richmond, described by Surf’s Up as a “hero,” finished with “Professor” Patrick Moriarty in a tie for fifth in the poll. Each gleaned 4 percent of the vote. Richmond is associated with the so-called “Arby’s Indians,” a tribe ruled a “complete sham” by a federal judge in a case in Utah.
The “tribe” got its derisive name because it held a meeting in an Arby’s restaurant in 2003. Members also established a sham “Supreme Court” at the address of a doughnut shop in Vernal, Utah, and also established a sham “arbitration” service that it used to pester public officials with spectacular claims that they had defaulted on contracts.
At least two people who used the services of the tribe’s bogus “arbitration” panel were sentenced for federal prison for tax crimes.
One of them was Bruce Robert Travis. Among other things, Travis is the self-published author of â€œMy Past Life As Jesusâ€ and â€œThe Messiah For Hire.â€
Travis, associated with tax denier Royal Lamarr Hardy, now reportedly is working on a book in which heâ€™ll describe what itâ€™s like to be Jesus behind bars.
“Tribe” members, including Richmond, were ordered in 2008 to pay more than $108,000 in damages in a racketeering lawsuit brought by the public officials. Richmond later emerged as a pro-se litigant in the ASD case, cheered on by Surf’s Up. Richmond attempted to have U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer disqualified from the ASD case — something Bowdoin himself later tried to do.
Moriarty, who was indicted in March 2009 for filing false tax returns, now has entered a guilty plea in the tax case. He was a co-founder of — along with members of Surf’s Up — of ASD Members International (ASDMI).
ASDMI promised to litigate against the government for its actions in the ASD case, even if the government was behaving legally. Moriarty, cheered on by Surf’s Up, was part of a letter-writing campaign to Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The campaign was aimed at getting the Senate to investigate the ASD prosecutors.
Finishing last in the poll was “joe,” who received no votes. “joe” purported to be a Vietnam POW and a staunch advocate for autosurf Ponzi schemes.