Digital Altitude settlement negotiations at a standstill
A Joint Status Report filed by the FTC on July 20th, has revealed settlement negotiations between Digital Altitude, Michael Force, Mary Dee and the FTC have broken down.
The revelation is not entirely unexpected, given the news last week that Force and Dee’s relationship with their attorneys had also broken down.
In a separately filed opposition response to Force and Dees’ requested $100,000 legal fees carveout, the FTC argue the pair have failed to provide the court with requested details of
- their assets
- their efforts to find gainful employment or otherwise obtain funds to cover living expenses and
- when Mary Dee is expected to start earning money from a newly launched enterprise
Defendant Dee’s declaration states that in March and April 2018, she “began to work on a new business venture,” but she failed to submit evidence as to when her new enterprise will generate revenue or how much income it will provide, which this Court required.
Defendant Force’s declaration is even less specific regarding his efforts to obtain funds to cover living expenses and legal fees, stating only that Digital Altitude was his “primary” source of income prior to the filing of this matter, and that his income has “dropped” since then.
Defendant Force’s declaration implies that he had other sources of income prior to the filing of this matter, and that he has continued to earn income since then.
This appears to be inconsistent with his financial disclosure form submitted to the FTC, which lists no other source of
income besides Digital Altitude.
As the regulator points out;
The roughly $2 million that is frozen is but a tiny fraction of the $54 million that consumers lost due to the Defendants’ lies and deception.
That disparity is “reason enough” to deny the motion for attorneys’ fees.
I suspect a major reason behind the breakdown in attorney relationship and settlement discussions, is the misguided belief by Force and/or Dee that they’ll be able to ultimately keep fraudulently obtained assets they haven’t declared.
Supporting this theory is a July 20th motion filed by the FTC.
The regulator has asked the court to compel
Digital Altitude LLC, Thermography for Life, LLC, Michael Force, and Mary Dee to respond in full to the interrogatories and requests for production of documents served by the FTC upon them.
The FTC alleges that in response to their discovery requests, Digital Altitude, Force and Dee have submitted “baseless objections”.
An attached memorandum reveals the requested discovery was initially due on May 30th.
The FTC agreed to multiple extensions of the due date for Defendants’ responses, ultimately extending the deadline to June 18, 2018.
That date came and went, and Defendants did not serve any response to the Interrogatories or the Requests for Production.
Since then, the FTC has repeatedly asked Defendants to comply with their obligation to respond to the FTC’s discovery requests.
On a June 26th telephone conference, Force and Dee’s lawyers informed the FTC ‘they had “no legal reason” for failing to provide responses to the … interrogatories and document requests‘.
Continued attempts to conceal fraudulently obtained assets would explain Force and Dee’s non-compliance.
Defendants had over two and a half months to respond to the FTC’s discovery requests.
They have not done so. Defendants have not even asked for a
further extension of the deadline to provide discovery responses past June 18, 2018.
If the FTC’s motion to compel is granted (and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be), Digital Altitude, Force and Dee will have ten days from the order to comply.
Update 25th July 2018 – The FTC’s motion to compel was granted on July 23rd.
Digital Altitude, Michael Force, Mary Dee and Thermography for Life have been given until July 27th to explain why they haven’t provided requested discovery.
More proof that Michael Force and Mary Dee believe the rules don’t apply to them. That’s how they’ve run Digital Altitude. That’s how they treat people outside their Inner Circle. A sense of elitism.
And a new business venture for Mary Dee? Yikes.
She just lied about $50M of transactions giving false numbers to people who believed those funnels converted. They really need to throw the book at her. And then at Force.
I don’t see anyone defending or edifying Michael Force online these days. No one sticking up for him.
All of those leaders were there for the commission. Certainly not the mission.
Article updated with news of FTC’s motion to compel being granted.
I am getting progressively more frustrated that these two are not behind bars. What is going to be the end result of all of this?
I want to know what the end result is going to be. Even on the side of the FTC, all I’m hearing is “gimme gimme gimme” and when Force and Dee don’t comply, it then turns to “ok….PLEEEASE gimme?”
It’s obvious they aren’t going to comply because they are hiding something.
Maybe because I am admittedly ignorant on the process, but it seems like there’s a lot of kicking the can down the road on BOTH sides of this case.
I know these things take time, but as a previous member of Digital altitude, I just want to know what is going to happen to those two already.
If I am not going to be able to get any of my money back, the least that can happen is that these two go behind bars and it is made public information that they are.
Totally get the frustration part.
While I can’t speak for the FTC, typically we see regulators let those they’re going after exhaust every possible legal recourse.
Then there’s that wonderful moment when the hammer comes down and, legally speaking, they have nowhere to run.
It would be nice to see criminal charges more often filed in conjunction with civil proceedings, but that’s another matter.
I think general consensus is running scammers through civil proceedings and stripping them is better than burdening society with the cost of incarceration.
Your Paul Burks’ and James Merrills are obviously egregious exceptions.
I too would love to see them behind bars, but they have cost me and others enough already.
It would be in our best interest to sentence them to “life” and suspend it. Help them secure good, honest jobs, and garnish their wages to go into a fund to pay us all back.
In the mean time keep looking for where they have stashed the funds, if they haven’t spent it already.
Exhibit B June 22nd proceedings looks like they got more money than I take home in a year. It seems they can go through the money.
And really, Mary Dee a new business venture?