OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The father and son owners of an Oklahoma publishing company accused of defrauding authors and musicians were charged Thursday with felony extortion, embezzlement and racketeering.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said the artists contracted with 70-year-old Richard Tate and 38-year-old Ryan Tate to publish their work, but that the father and son transferred the money from sales of books and music to the their own personal checking accounts.
“The means by which Ryan and Richard Tate conducted business to defraud individuals from across the country is unconscionable and a blatant disregard for those who entrusted them to produce their work,” Hunter said.
The owners of Tate Publishing and Enterprise in Mustang were arrested Thursday morning and ordered jailed on $100,000 bond, the attorney general’s office said. Court records do not list attorneys who can speak on their behalf and a message left with Tate Publishing was not returned.
The attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division said that since the business closed in January, it has received 718 complaints from authors or musicians whose complaints include failure to deliver products and services that had been paid for; failure to pay royalty earnings; and refusal to return files unless the customer agreed to pay a $50 processing fee.
The charges are the latest blow for Tate Publishing, which had promoted itself on its website as “a Christian-based, family-owned, mainline publishing organization with a mission to discover and market unknown authors.” The website appeared to be down Thursday afternoon.
The company lost two large court judgments earlier this year.
Tate Publishing and Ryan Tate were ordered to pay about $2 million to Xerox Corp. for unpaid services and the company was ordered to pay about $2 million to LaVergne, Tennessee-based Lightning Source for unpaid printing services.
In the Xerox case, the attorney for the company and Tate withdrew from the case, saying Tate would not communicate with him and would not pay his legal fees. In the Lightning Source case, no attorney is listed for the company.
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