EDITORIAL: What Zeekers (And Other MLMers) Can Learn From The Upcoming Trial Of AdSurfDaily Figure And Purported ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Kenneth Wayne Leaming
UPDATED 12:28 P.M. (FEB. 27, U.S.A.) Kenneth Wayne Leaming, a figure in the AdSurfDaily Ponzi-scheme story and a purported “sovereign citizen,” is scheduled to go on trial today in federal court the Western District of Washington with co-defendant David Carroll Stephenson. Leaming is charged with filing false liens against public officials involved in the ASD prosecution. Among his alleged targets were a federal judge, at least two federal prosecutors — and the U.S. Secret Service agent who cracked the ASD Ponzi case in 2008.
Leaming, 57, also is charged with assisting Stephenson in the filing of false liens against two federal-prison officials. Stephenson was in federal prison for a tax scheme at the time the liens allegedly were filed. Records strongly suggest that Stephenson, also 57, would be a free man today were it not for his association with Leaming, given that Stephenson’s prison term in the tax case had been scheduled to end early this year. Instead, he’s facing new charges and potentially more jail time.
But the false-liens charges are just the beginning for Leaming. He also is charged with harboring two federal fugitives wanted in a multimillion-dollar home-business fraud in Arkansas, being a felon in possession of firearms and passing a bogus “Bonded Promissory Note” for $1 million.
If you’re new to the PP Blog and new to the ASD case, a brief review is in order: The Secret Service raided ASD in August 2008, alleging the Florida-based firm operated by Andy Bowdoin was a massive Ponzi scheme operating over the Internet. Bowdoin reacted to the raid and the seizure of tens of millions of dollars by comparing the U.S. government to “Satan” and the Secret Service to the 9/11 terrorists. Now 78 and in federal prison, Bowdoin came out of the gate after the seizure by assuring ASD investors that “God” was on the company’s side.
Some MLMers were quick to accuse the government of targeting a fine Christian man who was helping the United States create jobs with a “program” that purported to pay participants back 100 percent of their investment and a profit of 25 percent in only months. (Ten-thousand dollars in ASD purportedly fetched $12,500 within 90 to 125 days, purportedly more if members “compounded” their “earnings,” kept 80 percent of their money in a continuous state of “roll over” and never fully cashed out.)
Essentially there was only one chance that ASD was not a Ponzi scheme during its approximately 18-month run — and that single chance required nearly a complete suspension of logic to destroy the government’s Ponzi case and get ASD off the hook: Had a crazy billionaire or exceptionally well-heeled financier (who also was crazy) given convicted-felon Bowdoin more money than ASD’s rapidly accruing liabilities — basically an enormous line of credit that didn’t have to be paid back and could be tapped on demand for ASD to pay out $1.25 for every dollar it took in until the line was exhausted — ASD would not have been a Ponzi scheme. Absent a benevolent madman-billionaire and the kind of capital it would take to build a nuclear-power plant and operate it indefinitely with zero concern for profit, however, ASD could be one thing and one thing only: a Ponzi scheme using money from “new” members to fund the redemption requests of “old” members or a Ponzi scheme that sustained itself by simply recycling money among members of a closed group.
No madmen-billionaires sufficiently liquid to bankrupt themselves by funding Bowdoin’s stated plan of creating 100,000 ASD millionaires in three years while at once financing the “profits” of tens of thousands of average people seeking to expand the ranks of ASD millionaires well beyond 100,000 appeared to testify on ASD’s behalf at an evidentiary hearing it requested in the fall of 2008.
Here is just one of the reasons MLM has a miserable reputation: Notwithstanding the fact that Bowdoin already was a convicted felon for an Alabama securities swindle in the 1990s and that one of his business partners was a man implicated by the SEC in the 1990s in three prime-bank swindles, some MLMers decided to improve the already bizarre narrative that the government was picking on a grandfatherly Christian.
Petitions were started to paint prosecutors as the bogeymen. (The shorthand for this in MLM’s HYIP Ponzi land is “evilGUBment.”) ASD critics were derided as “maggots.” A “prayer” went out calling for prosecutors to be struck dead from the heavens. A theory was advanced that a Florida TV station should be charged with Deceptive Trade Practices for carrying news unflattering to ASD. A companion theory held that the Attorney General of Florida should be charged with the same offense and that AARP, which lobbies for senior citizens, should lobby for ASD. Meanwhile, some MLMers tried to enlist the U.S. Senate to turn the focus of the investigation away from ASD and Bowdoin and put it on the prosecutors who brought the Ponzi case. One MLMer called for the government’s lead prosecutor to be placed in a medieval torture rack, with ASD members at large drawing straws to determine who got the honor of making the prosecutor’s time in the rack as painful as possible.
Very few people in MLM had anything to say about the circus surrounding ASD. The few who did — perhaps most notably Rod Cook of MLM Watchdog — were excoriated for dismissing the narrative advanced by Bowdoin and other MLMers. All of this was occurring while ASD was provably insolvent. When Bowdoin failed to take the witness stand at the evidentiary hearing he requested, it was explained that he was “too honest” to testify. Both before and after the hearing, some of his most notable Stepfordian apologists advanced a theory that the government secretly had admitted ASD was not a Ponzi scheme and was clinging to the case in a bid to save face.
One ASD member advanced a narrative that the government had taken about $80 million in seized proceeds and invested it in a secret fund to pay for black-ops. It was from this caldron of conspiracy theories and fantastic idiocy that Kenneth Wayne Leaming emerged.
Like other “sovereigns,” Leaming to date hasn’t focused much of his attention on the actual charges against him, even though his conviction could result in considerable jail time. Rather, Leaming mostly has focused on creating a blitz of paperwork on the apparent theory his best “defense” is to keep the Feds and even local officials scurrying to guard all flanks. Since his November 2011 arrest by an FBI Terrorism Task Force, Leaming has sued the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, various officials (including purported “Does”) and a county sheriff in Arkansas.
Members of Zeek Rewards and other MLM schemes should pay attention to the Leaming trial. There can be no doubt that Leaming-like figures existed within the Zeek enterprise. Like ASD before it, Zeek was a magnet to willfully blind MLM hucksters and actual criminals. Both “businesses” best are viewed as racketeering enterprises that posed an untenable risk to the United States and the rest of the world.
For the remainder of this column, the PP Blog will focus on just one crime alleged against Leaming: the filing of a false lien against the U.S. Secret Service agent — not that the other alleged bogus liens are any more palatable or acceptable. The word “disgraceful” hardly covers Leaming’s alleged actions, and yet some MLMers saw Leaming not only as an inspirational figure, but as the wisest man of all.
The Secret Service guards the lives of the President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States and their families. It also guards the lives of former Presidents and international dignitaries and political figures visiting the United States. As the agency is doing this, it also protects the U.S. financial system.
It is unthinkable — so far beyond the pale that it almost defies description — that Leaming, let alone any other American, ever would target a Secret Service agent in a harassment campaign. The Secret Service is a smallish agency by federal standards, yet it is arguably the most important: Markets become unglued when world figures are assassinated or targeted in assassination attempts. Beyond that, history now has shown that an event such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks actually can close markets and restrict freedom, the very things Leaming purports to be upholding.
People of good will are appalled that Leaming apparently thought it somehow his duty to Democracy and Constitutional government to harass a Secret Service agent. Given the critical duties of the Secret Service and its role in both national security and economic security, no American of good will wants to see an agent’s attention divided by the Kenneth Wayne Leamings of the nation and world.
If Leaming is convicted, he should be sentenced to the longest jail term permissible under the law. Never again should MLM or any MLMer stay silent when an obvious fraud scheme surfaces and is “defended” at the exclusion of all logic.
In both form and substance, Zeek was virtually identical to ASD — and yet ASD members and other MLMers joined Zeek. That’s a problem for MLM. whether it admits it or not.
Those ASD members who joined Zeek? They did so even as Kenneth Wayne Leaming allegedly was targeting public officials, including a U.S. Secret Service agent, in campaigns designed to destroy the thin blue line that protects citizens from anarchy. The most dangerous Zeek members are the ones who hoped he’d succeed.