- Associated Press - Friday, December 28, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Many people defrauded by an Oklahoma publishing company doubt they’ll get fully reimbursed and are upset with the owners’ plea deal.

Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office recently accepted a plea deal settling numerous felony charges against 70-year-old Richard Tate and his son, 38-year-old Ryan Tate, who owned Tate Publishing Co. They were accused of defrauding thousands of authors and musicians by transferring money from book and music sales to their personal checking accounts.

The company agreed to make monthly payments for the next 20 years toward a victim restitution fund of at least $825,000, but Hunter said the dollar amount could grow as more victims come forward. Hunter’s office said it has received more than 2,200 complaints so far from victims around the world, and more complaints come in daily.

“Some authors are really, really upset that there was no jail time for the Tates,” Victoria Strauss, an author in Amherst, Massachusetts, told The Journal Record. “Other people are pointing out that the attorney general thought it would be better for the Tates to be on the outside (of prison) so that they could work to pay us back.”

But she said the Tates, who promoted the company as being based on Christian values, left victims “very cynical about getting paid.”

Karen Exelby, an author in Paragould, Arkansas, doesn’t think a plea agreement should have been accepted. The Tates originally faced felony extortion, embezzlement and racketeering charges.

“Many of us poured our hearts and souls into those books, and we were cheated for it. We were let down and taken advantage of. The plea deal stinks,” she said.

Author Sarah Hildebrandt of Hemlock, Michigan, still has a 64-cent check - her last royalties check from Tates in early 2015 - stuck to her refrigerator door. She said her relationship with the company took a turn when an executive questioned her about her divorce.

“They wanted to know if I’d tried therapy, if I was trying to work out the marriage,” she said. “The royalty checks stopped coming after that. I assumed they were angry at me.”

The attorney general’s office is trying to contact other former clients of the publishing company and has urged victims to visit www.oag.ok.gov for more information about the process.


Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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