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Category: Business Law
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Experience:  16 years experience with a concentration in business, corporate and contracts law
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I invested money with a Captain in the Army. The contract

Customer Question

I invested money with a Captain in the Army. The contract we had entitles me to receive a substantial sum of money but he's refusing to pay me. At the urging of a friend with the same rank as him, I contacted his superiors on the base where he works and told them what was happening. This action causes him to send about 15% of what I'm owed with a promise to send the rest. That promise turned out to be just another one of his lies & almost 6 months later I have received nothing during which time he has become allusive. When he stopped answering correspondence I sent him the following email:

"Let's talk today. I will call you this evening. If sometime during the day is better for you then feel free to call & I will answer. Otherwise, since I know your evenings are free I will anticipate reaching you tonight.

I am off tomorrow & would rather not feel a need to call your office."

He sent me an email saying he was turning me in to the FBI for extortion. I'm smart enough to know that's laughable but I do have a serious question about the legality of me contacting someone in his chain of command.

I need to have dependable legal advice on this question. My Captain friend says there's no way that a superior in the Army will tolerate this kind of behavior out of someone under him. He said it's a character issue and being in the Army binds someone to be held accountable for these types of character issues in a way that private citizens don't have. He said that by informing his superior, if he has the assets, I would have the best chance of getting them recovered.

Will I be putting myself at risk, legally, if I were to send the contract and a copy of all correspondence to his superior and asking for their help?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  kattorney replied 2 years ago.

Kathie Russell :

Your friend is correct. This behavior is against the ethic rules of the armed forces. You are also correct in stating that his threat to turn you in to the FBI for extortion is laughable. You are not extorting him, you are attempting to collect a legally enforceable debt. I would recommend that you go ahead and send the contract and all correspondence to his superior, along with your records of payment(s) he has made to you. That should take care of the situation. If it does not (although the service won't tolerate unethical behavior or not paying bills, etc., if there is any question about the situation, i.e. he claims you didn't do something you were required to do under the contract or he has some other supposed legal defense) then sue him. If you get a judgment do the same thing, send it to his superior. At that point he will have no choice but to pay and they will make him do so. I have had very good luck using this with military persons not paying rent to my tenants. However, since I don't know your entire situation, I don't know if he has any possible defenses that might cause the military to stay uninvolved at this point.

Customer:

Thank you.

Kathie Russell :

You are very welcome. If you have any follow up questions just let me know!

Customer:

He has badly besmirched my name to his superiors the first time this happened. His superiors told me I need to stop threatening harm to him. I've never done any such thing. It's a substantial sum of money so it's not hard to believe someone would threaten him in my situation, however, I have not done so.

Customer:

He lives in OK and I'm in CA. OK is a one party consent state as it pertains to recording phone calls so I've been recording our calls for months and have him on tape saying he owes me the money and is going to pay me. Do you recommend I attach the phone calls to his superiors when I send them our correspondence?

Kathie Russell :

I understand. That was my concern in stating that sometimes, the military might not want to be involved. Since he has slandered you to them, my advice would be that when you send the documents, also send a detailed explanation of the situation including all contact you have had - so that they understand you have been reasonable and he has not. And YES if you have recorded telephone calls that would be excellent to include them (or even a typed transcript of them, which might be easier for them, and then tell them that you have the original recordings to back up the transcripts if they wish to hear them you will send them).

Kathie Russell :

Also in your communications state specifically that your requests have been reasonable and you have never threatened him.

Customer:

Perfect! Thank you again

Expert:  kattorney replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome. Please feel free to let me know if you have any further questions regarding this matter. It has been a pleasure to assist you! Best of luck collecting your debt.
kattorney, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 1142
Experience: 16 years experience with a concentration in business, corporate and contracts law
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have another question. This Captain is actually a JAG lawyer and says he's friends with an IRS litigator. So, in addition to telling me he was reporting me to the FBI and assuring me he would make certain the FBI presses charges against me, in which case I will be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to 5 years in federal prison, he's also threatened me, via email, that he plans to contact his IRS friend and make certain I'm audited. Now, I can laugh off the FBI thing because I know they have real criminals to catch but, whether you're Al Capone or a straight laced accountant, nobody wants to get audited. I AM afraid of the IRS. So when you add to these things the fact that, after speaking to his superior already, he has convinced them that he's fearful for his life due to my threats, his scare tactics are working.

Here's my question. I have been recording phone calls for 6 months. I have never called him without recording it even if it went to voice mail so my phone records and his will match up with my recordings. I also have a recording of his superior saying he said I threatened him then later a recording where I asked him why he said that and he back peddled and equivocated. I have all email records. That's a lot of correspondence and not once could anything I've ever said be construed as threatening. So as long as that is the case, if I decide to take this matter the legal direction, can I sue him for slander or libel or something that will give me leverage on him so that when I win the judgment he will have to sign some kind of gag order or something and won't be able to send the IRS after me? Also, if he is an attorney with the Florida state bar, is it legal for him to threaten to have the FBI bring me up on charges if that's a flat out lie? I ask that last question because he text me saying he already spoke to the FBI and they asked him to come into their office to file his complaint and press charges against me which is a conversation that I believe never took place.
Expert:  kattorney replied 2 years ago.
I do not believe you have a good slander or libel case. Those are difficult to prevail in, and you have to prove monetary damages - i.e. you have to show that due to the written or spoken defamation, you have lost money or somehow incurred financial damage. I don't believe you have that in this case. However, being an attorney with the Florida bar does give you some leverage. He is absolutely not allowed to threaten those things with the FBI and IRS. (By the way, I doubt he has the power to have the IRS audit you, but I understand that no one wants an IRS audit so that's probably a scary thought nonetheless). You can tell him that unless he ceases his slander and threats of criminal prosecution, you will file a complaint with the Florida bar (that might be a good time for you to let him know that you have everything recorded, because that might scare him since he would know you have proof that all of his allegations are baseless - especially if your recordings contain the threats to go to the FBI and IRS). Although he will surely act like that does not scare him, he will be scared, because those threats he made to you are extremely sanctionable by the Florida bar and probably by the military as well. And however scared of the IRS you may be, I assure you any attorney is triply scared of the bar - they can take away your livelihood. NO ONE wants a bar complaint and if he has any smarts at all, he will recognize that your complaint is a valid one for which he could get into big trouble. If it comes down to it, you should follow through with that threat. But I think the original plan of sending everything to his superior is still the best plan, just include the IRS threats and they will likely put a stop to that also.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Should I send him an email telling him this is the action I'm taking? I want to do that because, as weak as this may sound, I don't want to damage him. I just want to get my money back. But I'm hesitant because every time I've done something I've warned him by giving him the choice as to how I would proceed. I've said things like, "Call me or answer my calls or else I will feel the need to do this or that." So by giving away my hand, he's always been able to get out in front of my actions and spin his lies in the ears of those I was contacting.

If I send him an email with an attached recording, told him I was going to send it up his chain of command and to the Florida state bar could that create negative consequences for me? I've also considered going to the media. I have experience in news so I know how a newsroom works and an audio recording of him talking about his integrity and his faith in God and his honor and eternal soul being very important to him (which I have), is so juicy no news director could resist it. In this economic climate the media would love to tell a story of how, not only do you have to worry about Madoff's, Enron's and Qualcomms but now you have to worry about being rippoed off by Jag lawyer, Captains in the Army.

But every time I've had to sent him that kind of email he has dug his claws in deeper simply because of not being willing to admit he's wrong. In the end, I could see pride being his downfall. Either that or every time I've said I would do something he thought I was bluffing and called my bluff. But I've followed through on everything I've said I would do too so it wouldn't make sense that he thinks I'm bluffing. I really do think it's the pride thing.
Expert:  kattorney replied 2 years ago.
I know the personality type you are describing. Honestly, that is your call and I'm not sure I can help with that. I understand not wanting to hurt him. However, you can't go on like this forever. You have three very attractive options: the military, the news and the bar. Maybe you could pick the one that will hurt him the least (my guess is that is the military). Send them everything and then let him know that if the matter does not end there, you will send the recordings to the medial and to the state bar along with a complaint about his actions and threats. Perhaps, knowing his prideful nature, you could throw in a kicker to save his pride - not sure what that would be - if you just stop the threats and pay what you owe, I won't take any further action with the media and the bar....something like that?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Alright. One final question.

About 6 months ago, in an attempt to appeal to his compassion and send my assets, I told him about a hip injury I've been living with for some time that I couldn't get looked at because I don't have medical insurance. He began his response with, "I'm not telling you to commit insurance fraud but..." then he went on to tell me how I could commit insurance fraud by getting a good insurance plan and getting it treated without having to pay too much for it even though it's a pre-existing condition. He spoke as an expert on the matter citing his extensive experience working in the insurance industry. I have that recorded. Would that be a "sanctionable offense" by the Florida Bar as well?
Expert:  kattorney replied 2 years ago.
That one I am a little less sure of than the threats. However, it certainly would be worth including in your complaint if it comes to you having to make one. I guess whether or not it is sanctionable depends upon exactly what he told you and if it is totally illegal or not. He seemingly covered himself by disclaiming that he's not telling you to commit fraud, but then if he actually did tell you to commit fraud, he could get in trouble for that. At any rate, if you use it as a threat to him, you could include it as a sort of sideline, like you should know I have recordings of these threats you made (list detailed threats), not to mention your specific instructions as to how I could commit insurance fraud...something to put the idea into his head but not go into too much detail since it's not quite as clear cut as the threats which are definitely sanctionable. Best of luck to you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok. I just thought of this and this really will be my final question.

I've been unsure as to how to get my point across to the Captain. It seems like he just never takes me seriously so even if I email him saying I will go to his superiors, then the media, then the Florida bar I'm nor sure how effective that will be. I'm sure it will scare him but I think he might believe he can intimidate me in some other way by claiming I'll get into trouble. Of course that's ridiculous and won't work but I think he will think that it WILL work. I know I've done nothing wrong but that doesn't matter because if he thinks he can buy time then, in a sense, he already has because it will force my hand to move forward. So I thought of something I want to run by you.

What if I were to pay an attorney to draft a letter simply stating my position, that he owes me such and such and that if I don't hear from him within such and such about how I will retrieve my assets I plan to first, go up his chain of command, second, go to the media, third complain at the Florida State Bar and if all else fails, sue him? What do you think about that approach? Would it be better since he would see that I've gotten legal counsel on this or would it be worse because he would then begin to prepare for a legal battle?
Expert:  kattorney replied 2 years ago.
Yes, I think that is a very good idea. It is clear that he doesn't take your threats seriously, so perhaps coming from an attorney he will. Most importantly though, you really do have to follow through - because if you don't you'll lose all credibility and he will never pay you. The order you described is perfect, and that's exactly how you should proceed if the attorney letter doesn't work.

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