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Virtual Vice -- Inspired by a career criminal still active today


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#1 Jason M. Kays

Jason M. Kays

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 02:10 PM

The book's genre is creative non-fiction:  it is 85% factual.  It  was inspired by my representation as a lawyer of a most unpleasant  client over an eighteen month period.  The book examines the making of  this career criminal -- his professional history and evolvement.  In  short, Virtual Vice follows the rise and demise of a  sociopath, portrayed in the book as Scott White, who transitioned from  the organized crime of the Cali Cartel to the organized crime of Wall  Street.  The book's protagonist is based upon a real life confidence  man, Greg Scott Luce.  Luce began his professional life as one of the  largest cocaine distributors on the West Coast.  When the DEA closed  in, Luce evaded apprehension and laundered unseized drug money through  his Information Technology startup, Metropoleis III Multimedia (MIII).   Certain organized crime contingents remained silent partners in his new  business.

  

MIII was a Seattle based broadband content provider, streaming audio  and video from live rock concerts to subscribers over the Internet.   Although business was thriving, its CEO soon fell back on old habits,  structuring MIII as a Ponzi scheme and embezzling from investors.

  

Seven years after the founding of MIII, August 2001, I was retained  as counsel to review intellectual property issues. Approximately twelve  months into my work, original note holders began contacting me,  expressing concern that they had received no annual statements from  MIII -- for that matter, no communication at all from the board of  directors or corporate officers for several years. More troubling, to a  man, every investor had demanded buyback upon maturation of their  convertible note loan agreements in 1997. Luce refused to honor the  promissory notes. The paper trail showed Luce used money from the  non-accredited investor pool to line his own pockets, and money from  new investors to pay contracted employees that held stock options;  thereby, perpetuating the ruse. A textbook definition of the classic  Ponzi scheme with a slight twist: using money from new investors to pay  dividends to original investors.

  

I approached the CEO with my concerns. He was non-responsive, as was  the board.  As I dug deeper into the CEO's history, unearthing a deep  list of accounting firms, law firms and contractors owed money, I came  to learn that this was one of Luce's tricks:  secreting money in his  attorneys' client trust accounts, knowing that the lawyer would be  obliged to release the funds to Luce as client, regardless of whether  the money was dirty.  In addition to confronting shareholders with  Luce's malfeasance, I reported his actions to attorney general offices  in two states. Formal investigations into Millennium III and its CEO  commenced.

  

As external scrutiny, and civil and criminal suits mount, CEO Luce  began to come unhinged, as did his progressively more crazed and  bizarre business ventures.  He fled Washington State and setup shop in  Arizona.  Targeting the Sedona market, he attempted to tap into the New  Age zeitgeist.  After several false starts, he used his broadband media  delivery system to back an equally opportunistic religious huckster in  peddling a New Age theology to the masses via the Internet.

  

When I set out to chronicle my adventures representing a con man and  his crooked corporation, little did I know the publication date of Virtual Vice would coincide with contemporaneous, Wall Street Ponzi schemes of an epic magnitude.






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