Ten Indicted In One of the Biggest Baystate Frauds -(5/22/99 Reprinted with permission)
They're accused of exploiting the, quote, "big dreams of small inventors," according to US Attorney Donald Stern, with an alleged promotion scam that NEWS40 and the On Your Side Team first told you about three years ago.
It is being called one of the biggest fraud cases in the Baystate. A four year investigation by the US Department of Justice, the US Postal Inspector's Office, and the IRS has resulted in the indictment of Westfield based companies. The Federal indictments range from mail fraud and money laundering to tax evasion and conspiracy.
Indictments were handed down against ten people. During fourteen years of business, running three invention promotion companies, it is alleged that over 34,000 victims have been defrauded of some $60 Million.
Here's how the scam allegedly worked: inventors would be misled that their ideas were worthy and they'd pay the company between $200 and $10,000 for worthless patenting and marketing services.
Ronald Boulerice and John Sampson are the alleged masterminds of the scheme. Boulerice faces the most charges and could face a maximum one hundred years behind bars if he's found guilty.
American Inventors Corporation and American Institute for Research and Development used to operate out of Westfield, and a similar invention promotion company used to run out of Enfield and Florida.
Authorities say these defendants had this operation down to a science, that they threw out the hook, line, and sinker and wheeled in their victims, one by one.
US Attorney Donald Stern says, "If they went to another city, for example, to meet fact to face with a potential victim, an investor, they would do it in fancy surroundings, so you got the sense these were people of substance and credibility."
So how do you know whether you're dealing with a credible company? Authorities advise would-be inventors to bypass ads and mailings and instead seek the services of a reputable patent attorney.
The US Attorney's Office is trying to seize some of the defendants' assets, but authorities are not optimistic that victims will recover the money they lost.
Three years ago, On Your Side presented the story of Tawyna Pitts Jones and her experience with the American Inventors Corporation.
Jones, pregnant three times and spending a lot of time on the road, had a brainstorm that she believed would make her her fortune, the maternity car seat belt. She made a drawing of the idea for her invention, and then she brought to the company in Westfield, years before they were raided by Federal agents.
This is the heart of the American Inventors Corporation scam. Look at the drawing that Tawyna made of her maternity seatbelt, then look at the drawing the people at American Inventors Corporation submitted to the patent office. Where did the flowers come from? Those weren't Tawyna's idea; they were added on by the people at American Inventors, and not just for looks.
The people at American Inventors weren't interested in getting her a so-called Utility Patent that would protect her invention. Unbeknownst to Tawyna, all they applied for was a design patent for those pretty flowers.
In fact, if the people at American Inventors Corporation had actually tried for the utility patent, they would have found what On Your Side found out through the US Patent Office; that there already is a patent issued for the maternity seatbelt, almost ten years ago.
The patent attorney used by Ronald Boulerice and John Samson, Leon Gilden, lives in the northwest and, according to US Marshals, has not been picked up yet. Eight of the nine defendants were released on bond ranging from $10,000-to-$100,000.
is the only one that was held overnight, pending Wednesday's detention
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