We know that the music industry makes no money for musicians. As a result, we get all manner of new main and side hustles by also-rans and legacy acts. They sometimes go well, they often turn out really bad. In the case of Michael Davenport, former bassist of The Ataris, it went worse than bad, and he was indicted on several counts of fraud last month. As the Santa Barbara Independent reported a few weeks back, (this NPR story provides a handy summary, too) Davenport and Cynthia Rawlison were both charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud, with possible jail sentences of up to 30 years. The pair were arraigned on January 17. They're accused of scamming 100,000 people out of $27 million.
Let's back up a bit here. You probably remember the Ataris from their hit cover of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" in 2003, though they'd been around for much longer beforehand. Davenport played on So Long, Astoria, the album from which "Boys of Summer" appeared, leaving the band two years later. According to the reports, Davenport began a telemarketing company known as American Standard in 2009. He began as a salesperson, but eventually got promoted to manager. American Standard, under various other names as well, served as the center of the scam. From the Independent:
The company placed ads on Craigslist that purported to show “pre-foreclosure” houses for sale at below-market prices. When individuals responding to the ads called American Standard, salespersons told they them they needed to pay a $199 fee to access the complete property information. ... Prosecutors allege that after victims paid the $199 fee, they would learn the houses on American Standard’s list were either not for sale, or no homes existed at the addresses provided.
Victims of the scheme had filed complaints against American Standard for years, and the FBI and Santa Barbara police raided two of their call centres in 2016, as per this report. What's especially nuts is that Davenport temporarily rejoined The Ataris on a 10th anniversary tour for So Long, Astoria in 2013, which means he was probably running American Standard while replaying "Boys of Summer" every night. It's not known what plea Davenport and Rawlison entered on Wednesday.
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