3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Arizona Jazz Festival has fans singing the blues

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(Source: 3TV) (Source: 3TV)

The Arizona Jazz Festival is an annual event that draws thousands of people from across the country for a weekend of entertainment.

The lineup typically includes well-known performers and this year's lineup was no exception.

Marilyn Montgomery spent $125 for Arizona Jazz Festival tickets, which was supposed to have happened back in October. But just one week before the event, the promoter, BTW Concerts owned by Brad Laughlin, dropped a bombshell, saying he had to cancel the festival because of "substantial financial fraud."  

[RELATED: Concertgoers upset over abruptly canceled jazz fest (Oct. 21)]

Montgomery says she was disappointed, but she had one question. 

"Terrible! Then I’m wondering, 'Uh-oh. Am I going to be able to get my money back?'"

Montgomery says she's still waiting to get her money back, and she's not alone. 

Numerous people, including some from outside Arizona, have contacted 3 On Your Side wanting to know how to get their money back.

Montgomery added; "I haven't heard a word, not one single word."

Laughlin is no stranger when it comes to promoting concerts. He's also done shows in Las Vegas, San Diego and Cancun. 

3 On Your Side discovered that Laughlin is also no stranger to the judicial system. Documents show civil judgments worth thousands of dollars filed against him. 

So what does Laughlin have to say to all those jazz fans who purchased tickets to the canceled event?

After failing to return our phone calls, we went to BTW Concerts to look for Laughlin. After finding a locked door, someone finally answers it. 

"Hey, I’m looking for Brad," 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper said. 

"He's not available and we're not making comments to the media so I'm going to give you our attorney's phone number," was the reply.

The woman did not identify herself, but she gave 3 On Your Side a note with the attorney's name, closed the door and refused to say what consumers should do next. 

"This is as good as it gets?" Harper asked.

The attorney, Richard E. Chambliss, eventually contacted 3 On Your Side and in an email, he said Laughlin is the victim of "identity theft" and embezzlement from a former employee. 

"BTW has sued the individual it believes was involved in theft," he wrote. 

Chambliss also said that nearly half of the people who bought tickets have been refunded. 

Montgomery says she must be part of the other half and says she doesn't know what to believe anymore. "That was a big slap in the face to me, it really was."

Statement 3 On Your Side received from Chambliss

"Good Morning Mr. Trent,

"You have left me a message that your station is running a story about BTW Concerts' cancellation of the Arizona Jazz Festival. You have requested an interview with the principal of BTW Concerts. He declines the invitation to be interviewed.

"He has requested I update you about the cancellation and what he is trying to do to repay all of the folks that purchased tickets for the festival.

"BTW has been in the business of producing jazz festivals for over 20 years. It has put on the Arizona Jazz Festival, the Las Vegas Jazz Festival, the San Diego Jazz Festival and the Cancun Jazz Festival. The company was forced to cancel the Arizona Jazz Festival because it sustained significant losses due to identity theft in the early part of the year that it believed it could manage; however it then was the victim of a second loss when an employee embezzled additional funds from the company. While it sought funding to put on the jazz festival, it ultimately could not pay the cost to produce the festival and had to cancel.

"BTW has sued the individual it believes was involved in the theft. A copy of the complaint filed on behalf of BTW is attached.

"BTW is also actively seeking to sell its assets to generate money to pay those customers that purchased tickets for the canceled jazz festival. More than fifty percent of those customers have been made whole by receiving refunds from their credit card companies. Of course, BTW will have to deal with the debt to the credit card companies but substantially over half of the customers have challenged the credit card purchases and been reimbursed.

"BTW learned last week that the individual who had embezzled funds had also taken company property and was seeking to open a new business to promote jazz festivals in Arizona. These actions are not only a violation of the trade secret statutes of Arizona but make it more difficult for BTW to sell its assets to third parties. BTW amended the complaint against the former employee to protect the company's assets and allow the company to pursue the sale of its assets. BTW intends to pay all of its debts from the law suit (sic) or a sale of its remaining assets."

Copyright 2015 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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