Man indicted on 17 counts for selling false advertisement

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PHOENIX - The following is a press release from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office:


Rev. behind bars for false advertising

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County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today that John Stone (DOB 09/26/56) has been indicted on 17 counts of Fraudulent Schemes for allegedly selling businesses not existent bench advertising. An investigation by detectives with the County Attorney's office found that Stone has been engaging in this alleged scam for at least three years.

Detectives with the County Attorney's Office arrested Stone today. Stone identifies himself as the "Reverend" Stone.

The investigation has identified at least 35 victims in Arizona. One of them created a website to warn others about the scam. Detectives from the County Attorney's Office spoke to multiple victims and a common pattern emerged. Stone would allegedly approach a business claiming he was selling advertising space on benches placed outside supermarkets and department stores. The fees ranged between $700 and $1800. Stone told his victims that photos of missing children would appear alongside the advertisements and that Stone's mission is to help missing children. He also told the victims he had authorization from the local retailers to hold out their benches for advertising.

In an overwhelming majority of the cases investigated, the victim received no advertising whatsoever. One victim who insisted he see proof of advertising before he paid Stone in full was sent a picture of a bench outside a local supermarket and then the victim in return paid Stone in full. A short time later the supermarket called the victim asking that the bench be removed as no one gave permission for it to be there.

The County Attorney's investigation revealed that the retailers did not give Stone permission to place advertisements on their property. Most said they had never heard of Stone, and knew nothing about the program except the complaints they were getting from local business owners. In fact, many of their store policies strictly prohibited this type of solicitation.

On July 23, 2009, a Maricopa County grand jury indicted Stone on 17 counts of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices. Deputy County Attorney Alane Roby is prosecuting the case.

July 27, 2009 Page 2

Thomas stated, "As small businesses struggle to stay afloat in this economy, the last thing they need is to be ripped off by con artists. Alleged offenders who claim to be helping missing children when they are not are especially deserving of full prosecution."< /p>

County Attorney Thomas is making good on his promise to go after cases of financial fraud. Below are some recent cases handled by the County Attorney's Office:

On July 21, Kieran Chikwendu, (DOB 3/6/53) was sentenced to 2.5 years in a Medicare scam

On June 10 Former Harquahala Valley Fire Chief Randal Long (DOB 11/15/56) was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison and ordered to make $88,000 in restitution for stealing fire district funds

On May 22, former CPA Dan Wise (DOB 8/5/56) was indicted for allegedly cheating his clients

On April 21 Kailash Bhatt (DOB 2/10/66) was indicted for allegedly stripping items from a home in foreclosure

On April 7 Edmond B. Flynn (DOB 6/15/71), and LaDonna G. Flynn, 36 (DOB 11/14/72) were indicted accused of stealing $300,000 from their employer

On March 19 John Patrick Kelly (DOB 12/11/61) was sentenced to 12 years for scamming travelers at Sky Harbor by selling them non-existent plasma TV's

On March 10 Jeffrey Allen Herald (DOB 6/26/58) was arrested after failing to appear in court on charges in alleged mortgage scam

On February 17 Peggy Joyce Moore (DOB 4/18/41) was indicted for allegedly embezzling money from an elderly neighbor

On February 12 Janice E. Lindahl (DOB 6/28/50) was indicted accused of stealing $200,000 from an elderly neighbor

On January 22 Troy Jason Vollberg (DOB 5/5/74) was indicted for allegedly orchestrating the destruction of school bus windshields at the Scottsdale School District in order to make money replacing the glass

On December 18 Robert Michael Huillier (DOB 8/24/60) was indicted accused of stealing from clients in an alleged auction scam