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July 06 2007

The criminal case is closed on Booster Events. Reguarding the failed Flavention 2. The bad news, they are not filing any crimnal charges against the organization. The good news we've gained another Browncoat.

The letter;

Wendy and all,

The investigation has been concluded. After weeks of work on it, I discussed the merits of the case with the District Attorney. We agreed there was not enough to make a criminal case. The Attorney General investigated the internet fraud portion, and they concluded they did not have enough to issue any sanctions or fines. All that said, anybody who lost money to Booster may have civil recourse. Not being an attorney, I cannot discuss your civil options.

Bon Stewart

PS. This investigation prompted me to rent Serenity (I had never heard of it before). It was great."

Wow, that was one expensive fan!

But seriously, I'm sorry for everyone who lost money. This sucked muchly. Hopefully some folks will try the civil route, but that could be more headache and hassle than it's worth...
Thanks God that I got a charge back from my credit cards. *Whew* I really dodged a bullet there.
And YAY, he liked Serenity.
I got squat back via my bank. It's all down to maybe getting three cents as a creditor in the chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.
Not enough for any sanctions or fines? Please, that's just plain wrong. I highly doubt that those that got shafted would agree with that assessment.

Pffft. That really sucks. >:(
I got the same squat from my bank and PayPal. Well, at least the BBB made it all MUCH better.
Not enough for any sanctions or fines? Please, that's just plain wrong. I highly doubt that those that got shafted would agree with that assessment.

To make it a criminal case they would have to be relatively confident of proving criminal activity rather than merely incompetence. If the evidence was lacking a criminal prosecution would just be a waste of time and money.
Still, a lot of folks got bilked out of hard cash. By the people responsible for the convention. Isn't there any accountability? My wallet wasn't affected personally, but isn't there something like a class action suit the shaftees could get going?
No, Willowy. The business is in bankruptcy, which means people can't file against it (as it's protected by the courts from expenses, since it's assets are frozen). Also, their declared assets for the entire business are $2500 (the bankruptcy documents are publicly available), which is to be divided between the hundreds out of pocket. So, even if you did somehow take legal action, you wouldn't even get your legal expenses back. You'd likely just get smacked down by the judge yourself as you can't file in circumstances like this.

The whole thing was a sad affair. I feel sorry for anybody caught in the cross fire. I hope future fan-run convention companies learn from Booster Events. Although I doubt they will.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-07-06 20:47 ]
As someone who did not get screwed but did give his hard earned cash to the "back-up bash fund" I feel entitled to an opinion...

While all the drama was unfolding, being rational, highly intelligent fans, everyone kept saying, “remain calm” and see what happens. In other words, don’t fly off the handle yet, maybe the organizers will do something to repay the victims. Guess what, they didn’t.

I'm sure some will say I am being harsh but I think the inept owners of this failed business venture should take personal responsibility, even if it means paying people half their lost money with personal checks – even if it takes the next 10 years.

Further, until these fans are repaid, I don’t think it's unreasonable to ban them from attending ANY comic, TV or ‘Verse related conventions lest they be pelted with rotten tomatoes. Harsh actions deserve a harsh response.

Is it bad taste (or illegal?) to post their pictures on a big sign at the entrance to all the big shows? If I were a show organizer, I’d kick them so far out the door they wouldn’t know what hit them. (While we’re at it, maybe someone should get a copy of their mug shots over to the Sing-a-long organizers too.)

I normally embrace the light and shun the dark but in this case, the deplorable actions of these miscreants warrant an appropriate response and based on the wide range of people they hurt, a lifetime convention ban seems reasonable.

My last point is about the back-up bash itself. My mother taught me to always say Thank You when I receive a gift. Maybe there was just an email addressing error but I never got a “thank you” from the Browncoats or anyone else. Please note, I didn’t send money for the purpose of getting a thank-you or for recognition, I sent it to be a good member of our community and to support the fans but I am surprised I didn’t get a quick email saying, “thanks.” I can’t imagine it would take more than a few minutes to send a bulk email to the hundreds of people that took the time and donated their money. I’m really not looking for a big debate or backlash on this. It has been a while and I just felt this would probably be the last opportunity I’d have to comment on this topic.
I figured this would be the way this all turned out. Declaring bankruptcy just seems too easy an "out" for people who hurt so many due to their irresponsibility or incompetence or whatever it is that falls just short of criminality.

My heart breaks for all of those who lost money on this. Just the mental anguish itself has got to have been debilitating for some.
palehorse - I'm right there with you. Just reading this post takes me back to those frantic days and I get that tense anxiety in my stomach all over again for these people.

And then I get to be proud of our BDH's all over again for stepping up like they did.
While all the drama was unfolding, being rational, highly intelligent fans, everyone kept saying, “remain calm” and see what happens.

Um. Not everyone. I was getting royally reamed by Booster groupies for crying foul pretty early on. Weeks and weeks before the date of Flanvention 2.
I hope those women have the sense not to try and attend a convention ANYWHERE.

Anything else I have to say about them and this situation would not be fit to print.
And you weren't the only one, Bix. I know quite a few people who got beat down for suggesting Vicki and Denise might not be telling the whole truth. There was a difference between the Booster minions and Browncoats. The minions defended V&D till the end. In a way, I think Booster hurt them pretty bad: some of these people considered V & D personal friends.

Alex, if no one hasn't thanked you yet, I'm here to thank you. Everyone who enjoyed B3 is so very thankful to those who stepped up and gave us a con. If no one actually sent you a thank you email, I'm sure it was because it was so chaotic. The Cali 'Coats had their hands full trying to run a convention last minute. So thank you to you, and everyone who donated and made the whole weekend possible.
Out of curiosity, are the people owed money able to challenge the financial statements that they provided?
I remember someone stating that most of the information provided was provided by only one of the two ladies.

Could the court order an intensive audit of their personal finances ?
There are reasons why I don't go into business with friends. There are other reasons why I don't believe Nigerian princes who e-mail me asking for funding for their ill children. Scams are scams, and whether the reasons behind this entire ordeal were with genuine intentions or not, I think the lesson has been learned. I know a lot of coats were very badly hurt by this, not only monetarily, but emotionally, and that is truly unfortunate.
... I am surprised I didn’t get a quick email saying, “thanks.” I can’t imagine it would take more than a few minutes to send a bulk email to the hundreds of people that took the time and donated their money.

Alex, as the lead organizer of the Backup Bash, let me take this opportunity to thank you publicly for donating to the cause. We did try to personally thank everyone who gave their time and money, but because of the chaotic and seat-of-our-pants nature of the event, I'm sure we missed folks, as we obviously did with you.

We really, truly couldn't have done it without you, and people like you. We made a really big deal at B3 itself about how many people -- most of whom weren't even attending -- were pitching in just to help out fellow fans in need, and it really meant a lot to everyone who was there. So please know that your contribution was important to us, and not taken for granted at all.

[ edited by lexigeek on 2007-07-06 23:13 ]
It's situations such as these that make me long for the good ol' days of debtor's prison. Since that's not an option, let your vengeful side be mollified by the fact that their credit is as dead as a pile o' Reavers under River's dancing feet, for at least a while. House, car, business loan - all are as ghosts for them.

Yeah, I know. It's not exactly justice, but it'll have to do.

And let me add a big ol' THANKS!! to all who contributed to the Backup Bash. My story from B3 is one filled with heroes, song, laughter and a very nice "to be continued" as the screen faded to black, and that was made possible by dozens of people, many of whom weren't even there. Yet they helped hold the line.

Have I mentioned how I love my fandom?
I've always tried to shy away from a witch hunt for the owners, with varing results. Yeah, they messed up. Yeah, they caused immense emotional hardship to people. But I don't think there's a way that will be resolved.

[ edited by gossi on 2007-07-07 00:03 ]
I second that, Lexigeek. As an attendee of B3 I can assure you the experience was intensely special for us, because of the generous donations of everyone. In fact, many wiped tears when we found out that Browncoats like you, alexreager, were not at the event but wanted it to be special for the other Browncoats. Please accept my most humble thanks for your generosity.

As for Booster Entertainment, yes they screwed up. They made some bad decisions, and I have the notion they are paying for it even if it is not in "dollars". While we do want them to be accountable, we have to remember our own humanity and forgive them and stop harping on it. They screwed up-end of story whether we remedy the monetary situation or not.

Just my two cents.
I believe, for whatever it's worth, that there's a difference between harping and remembering. They didn't, after all, make bad decisions with their own money; they made them with ours. No reason to somehow forget it, and it's also an important lesson for the future of this fandom.
I don't know from where it originates, but growing up I often heard (usually in Hebrew and usually in reference to the Holocaust which, of course, isn't in and of itself comprable) "Forgive, but never forget." I think that's pretty applicable here. And while those who plan events have -one hopes- learned a valuable lesson from all of this, even moreso I hope attendees have learned to ask a LOT of questions before laying out $$ for any event, 'verse related or not.

But to all those who enjoyed B3, from those of us who knew the joy of giving but not attending, you are very welcome. :-)
I want to add my thanks to alexreager and all the generous people who donated to B3. I didn't know who donated, but I did post a general 'thank you' here at Whedonesque and at my lj, pledging to donate any refund I got to Equality Now. I was lucky enough to get a charge back and I did donate it, as well as making some smaller donations to this site and fireflyfans because I was so very grateful to everyone who made B3 such a special event. It was very hard to foresee that a sold out convention, run by people who were thought to be competent, would be canceled at the last minute. It was pretty shocking to be in Burbank when we all got the news, but because of fine folks like lexigeek, all the California Browncoats (who worked around the clock), and most of all the generous donations of wonderful people like alexreager it was possible to have a really amazing weekend which I will remember forever. Thank you all again!
Just FYI, even though I didn't get an individual email thanking me for my donation, I did feel that all the Backup Bash attendees were quite vocal with their thanks - on whedonesque and numerous other venues. Frankly, I was appreciative of the opportunity to do something to alleviate my feeling bad for the screwed-over attendees, friends and strangers alike.

I wasn't frakked over thusly, so I don't have personal feelings of ill-use. Keep that in mind when I say: while BE was unforgivably incompetent, and I'm not saying you should forget or get over it, I am hoping that retaliation scenarios and punishment fantasies will slowly fade away, now that the criminal case is closed, and civil cases highly unlikely.

I get the urge to punish - I'm just not a big fan of actually doing it... This would be true whether I was affected or not...

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