Thursday, November 01, 2007

Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne Continues to Dodge Questions about SEC Probe and Faces Counterclaims by Rocker and Gradient

On Wednesday, October 31, 2007, I visited Salt Lake City Utah at the invitation of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff as part of the their 14th Annual White Collar Crime Conference. My presentation started at 9:00 AM and was supposed to finish by 11:15 AM. I invited the persons attending the fraud conference to ask me any question. I answered every single question posed to me truthfully, unambiguously, and without deflection. As a result, my fraud presentation concluded about one-half hour later than originally planned.
There were still more questions. So I stayed around at the conference until 1:30 PM and did not leave the conference until every person was satisfied that their questions were answered by me. Afterwards, I visited the Securities and Exchange Commission office in Utah and met with them about issues related to Overstock.com and Patrick Byrne. I waived my right to counsel as we discussed issues relating to Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, and other persons working in collusion with him.
In my previous blog item entitled, “Open Letter to Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com,” I detailed how Patrick Byrne grandstanded and pretended to invite me to ask questions during Overstock.com’s third quarter earnings conference call, knowing that I was not invited in advance to participate in such a call and that I was not a party to that call. Patrick Byrne said:
Sam Antar, if you want to join us as an [inter-locketer], I have to stick around -- I have to leave in 15 minutes but I'm hoping you'll join, Sam.
Later in the call, Patrick Byrne said:
I have 10:02 -- Sam Antar, are you on the line? Come on, Sam. Okay, I've got to get over to a talk.
Note: Bold print and italics added by me.
After the conference call concluded, I found out about Patrick Byrne’s supposed invitation. I sent an email to Patrick Byrne, Judd Bagley, and Cc’d two members of his Audit Committee and persons from the SEC. I posted my blog item entitled, “Open Letter to Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com.” In my email and blog item, I invited Patrick Byrne to participate in my meeting with the SEC, waive his right to counsel like I did, and answer questions about possible violations of securities laws and other laws by Overstock.com, him, and other persons working in concert with him. In addition, I invited Judd Bagley, Director of Communications at Overstock.com, to answer my questions at a separate meeting with persons at the SEC, too. I gave both Patrick Byrne and Judd Bagley nine days advance notice to prepare to answer questions from me and the SEC.
Instead, Patrick Byrne, who is the self-proclaimed “humble servant” of Overstock.com shareholders, appears to be in hiding. Patrick Byrne's henchman, Judd Bagley, is hiding, too. Neither Patrick Byrne nor Judd Bagley showed up at the SEC offices in Utah to answer questions from me about Overstock.com, their activities, and other persons working in concert with them. Patrick Byrne would much rather deflect from answering questions and continue his smear campaign against any person or group that he deems as a threat to his own agendas. Judd Bagley appears to be relatively quiet as he prepares for the continuing federal investigation.
According to an interview of Patrick Byrne, published on redcoatpublishing.com entitled “The UN-CEO” in July 2004:
And Byrne’s quirky management style is not limited to his hiring practices. He has some unusual ideas about how companies should be run. For example, he believes in telling the truth about how the business is going. “I think that I owe the shareholders an honest explanation, once a quarter, of what’s happened—what’s gone well and what hasn’t gone well,” he said.
Note: Bold print and italics added by me.
It appears that Byrne’s statement above to redcoatpublishing.com was another lie. He has not been forthright and truthful about Overstock.com, his actions, and the actions of persons working in concert with him.
Patrick Byrne will not be able to hide for long. Patrick Byrne has admitted to being a target of the SEC probe into possible securities law violations by Overstock.com, him, and others, in contrast to his previous denials. Now, Overstock.com and Patrick Byrne are facing a possible countersuit by Rocker Partners and Gradient Analytics. According a Dow Jones News Service article published today by Carol S. Remond:
After meandering in the California court system for more than two years, a libel case brought by online retailer Overstock.com (OSTK) against a hedge fund and a research firm it accuses of colluding against the company is about to kick into high gear.
But while Overstock Chief Executive Officer Patrick Byrne recently rejoiced that a decision by the California Supreme Court not to review petitions in the case opened the door for the discovery process to begin, he might soon have to disclose more than he anticipated.
That's because, according to people familiar with the situation, Rocker Partners LLC and Gradient Analytics Inc. are poised to file counterclaims against the company. Rocker is expected to file its counterclaim on Friday. Gradient's timing is unclear.
Note: Bold print and italics added by me.
In addition, the Dow Jones News Service article states:
People familiar with the matter said Rocker will allege in its counterclaim that Overstock and its CEO orchestrated a short squeeze to boost the company's stock in violation of a California securities statute. The fund is likely to claim that Byrne made false statements, perhaps through the use of Internet bloggers, in order to inflate the price of his company's stock in violation of California Corporations Code.
Rocker will allege that the massive run-up in Overstock's price in the second half of 2004 and early 2005 caused the fund to lose money by forcing it to cover, or buy back shares, at artificially higher prices.
Note: Bold print and italics added by me.
In a previous blog item entitled, "Did Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, Deliver a Trojan horse to the Securities and Exchange Commission?," I raised the question as to whether Patrick Byrne used his company's lawsuit, filed on August 11, 2005, against Gradient Analytics and Rocker Partners as a "Trojan Horse" diversion tactic to the Securities and Exchange Commission in an effort to thwart their inquiries and later investigation of Overstock.com and him. In another post on this blog entitled, "Overstock.com vs. Gradient and Rocker Part 1: Patrick Byrne and his Three Stooges" I analyzed the conflicting, inconsistent, and contradictory allegations of the three former Gradient employees who Byrne contends are his main witnesses.

Special thanks to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for inviting me to make a fraud presentation at his office’s 14th Annual Conference on White Collar Crime. In the last eight years, I have traveled across our great country and made over 200 fraud presentations on behalf of over 70 hosting organizations, including dozens of government entities, universities, professional groups, and companies free of charge and without any cost reimbursement.
Written by:
Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO & convicted felon)

Blog Update Note (11/15/07): I received the following request from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to post a comment on my blog today. In a letter addressed to "to whom it may concern," dated November 8, 2007, written by Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General, and released by Overstock.com through a press release on November 14, 2007, he claimed:
I tried to post this letter as a comment on Mr. Antar's blog but Mr. Antar apparently refused to post it.
However, I just received Mr. Shurtleff's comment today and posted it. Please note the date and time of the email.
I will respond to Mark Shurlteff soon. In the mean time, keep speculating.
From: mshurtleff [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com]Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 11:41 AM
To: Sam E. Antar
Subject: [White Collar Fraud] New comment on Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne Continues to Dodge....
mshurtleff has left a new comment on your post "Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne Continues to Dodge...":
As Utah Attorney General, I am commenting on this post to clarify why Sam Antar was invited to speak at our 14th Annual White Collar Crime Conference, and to express my concern and dismay at the way Mr. Antar used that invitation to “bookend,” and inappropriately attempt to legitimize, his attack on a publicly traded company headquartered in Utah. We invited Mr. Antar to speak at our conference solely because he is a convicted felon. There is much that law enforcement can learn from criminals to catch more criminals and better protect the public. The invitation to Mr. Antar allowed Utah law enforcement and securities professionals to gain access to the inner-workings of a known criminal mastermind.
I was warned that Mr. Antar might use this speaking engagement to suggest that my office or I personally, endorse or support his accusations against Overstock.com or some other public company. Based on that warning, officials in my office secured a promise from Mr. Antar that he would not use this invitation for that purpose. So much for the promises of a convicted felon! The day after speaking in Utah, he submitted the forgoing post, opening and closing his latest round of Overstock attacks with references to me, my office, and his presentation at our crime conference.
Let me be perfectly clear: Our invitation to Mr. Antar was in no way an endorsement of his views on the current practices of any public company. It was in no way a statement of support or an endorsement of Mr. Antar's controversial statements respecting any particular public company of any sort. Our invitation, and his presentation at our conference, should not to be taken as any comment on Mr. Antar’s self-promotion as a person who can detect and expose errant practices of public companies. In light of Mr. Antar’s background as a convicted white collar criminal, we believe that the public should carefully scrutinize and objectively examine any public statements Mr. Antar makes.
Neither I, nor the Office of the Utah Attorney General, is reliant on Sam Antar for training or advice on the current practices of public companies. This office is not underwriting or endorsing in any way Mr. Antar or his views. Nothing could be further from the truth. I admonish Mr. Antar to remove from his website any reference (including the forgoing blog) that might suggest such a conclusion; and to be careful not to suggest such a connection or conclusion in any of his public statements.
Mark L. Shurtleff
Utah Attorney General
Publish this comment.
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Posted by mshurtleff to White Collar Fraud at 11:40 AM
Notes:
On 11/19/07, I responded to Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's comment above is posted on my blog item entitled, "11/19/07: Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Panders to Campaign Contributor Overstock.com & CEO Patrick Byrne and Defames Critic."
Update (11/29/07): Please read my blog item entitled,"Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Caught Lying on Behalf of Overstock.com and Patrick Byrne," and listen to the taped conversation between Deputy Attorney General Richard Hamp and I.
Update (12/13/07): Please read my blog post entitled, "Open Letter to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Re: Your lies on behalf of campaign contributor Overstock.com."
Update (08/18/08): Please read my blog post entitled, "Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne Pays Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to Defame a Blogger." Just a few days prior to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's defamation of me in his "open letter" and Overstock.com's subsequent press release, Shurtleff received a $5,000 so-called campaign contribution from Overstock.com. In addition, new details of phone conversations with Deputy Attorney General Richard Hamp and Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen verify that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff lied on behalf of Overstock.com to defame me.

2 comments:

mshurtleff said...

As Utah Attorney General, I am commenting on this post to clarify why Sam Antar was invited to speak at our 14th Annual White Collar Crime Conference, and to express my concern and dismay at the way Mr. Antar used that invitation to “bookend,” and inappropriately attempt to legitimize, his attack on a publicly traded company headquartered in Utah. We invited Mr. Antar to speak at our conference solely because he is a convicted felon. There is much that law enforcement can learn from criminals to catch more criminals and better protect the public. The invitation to Mr. Antar allowed Utah law enforcement and securities professionals to gain access to the inner-workings of a known criminal mastermind.

I was warned that Mr. Antar might use this speaking engagement to suggest that my office or I personally, endorse or support his accusations against Overstock.com or some other public company. Based on that warning, officials in my office secured a promise from Mr. Antar that he would not use this invitation for that purpose. So much for the promises of a convicted felon! The day after speaking in Utah, he submitted the forgoing post, opening and closing his latest round of Overstock attacks with references to me, my office, and his presentation at our crime conference.

Let me be perfectly clear: Our invitation to Mr. Antar was in no way an endorsement of his views on the current practices of any public company. It was in no way a statement of support or an endorsement of Mr. Antar's controversial statements respecting any particular public company of any sort. Our invitation, and his presentation at our conference, should not to be taken as any comment on Mr. Antar’s self-promotion as a person who can detect and expose errant practices of public companies. In light of Mr. Antar’s background as a convicted white collar criminal, we believe that the public should carefully scrutinize and objectively examine any public statements Mr. Antar makes.

Neither I, nor the Office of the Utah Attorney General, is reliant on Sam Antar for training or advice on the current practices of public companies. This office is not underwriting or endorsing in any way Mr. Antar or his views. Nothing could be further from the truth. I admonish Mr. Antar to remove from his website any reference (including the forgoing blog) that might suggest such a conclusion; and to be careful not to suggest such a connection or conclusion in any of his public statements.

Mark L. Shurtleff
Utah Attorney General

Sam E. Antar said...

My answer Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is posted in my blog item entiled, "Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Panders to Campaign Contributor Overstock.com & CEO Patrick Byrne and Defames Critic."

Link here:
http://whitecollarfraud.blogspot.com/2007/11/utah-attorney-general-mark-shurtleff.html

I am awaiting Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's response.

Respectfully,

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO & convicted felon)