Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud: Chapter Four

The Attempted Coup

Mary’s mother, Marge Tarantino, was a bit older than my fifty-five years. She was still going strong at eighty-one. Sharp as a proverbial tack, albeit crippled with arthritis and wheel chair bound. Since the death in 1996 of Mary’s father, Pete Tarantino, Marge had been living at an Assisted Living place named Aegis. A pretty nice joint, all in all. A little pricey, perhaps. And she liked it there. But she needed more care than they could provide and it was now time to come and live with her family.

Mary’s siblings (she was one of Marge and Pete’s ten children) either did not live in the area or did not have the kind of home that could accommodate Marge’s physical needs. So, with our finances healthy and three of Mary’s six children mostly grown up (the youngest three still lived with us, two in high school and one in Junior College), it was a no brainer to offer our home to Marge, where she could live out her life in peace, cared for by her daughter and surrounded by her grandchildren. And great grandchildren, now that Mary’s oldest, Julie, had married and given birth to little Juliet. At various moments, there would be four generations in our one family home. A home that would also be a gathering place for Mary’s siblings and their families for holiday events and regular visitations to Marge.

Walton’s Mountain in the twenty-first century.

It was hard to believe I was part of all this. Family type swell guy had never been remotely associated with me. Misanthrope. Loner. Curmudgeon. These adjectives more often trailed along in the wake of the voyage of my life. But once again, I failed to notice the warnings. That something was wrong with this picture – if it had me in it!

Which meant it also had Dweeble slithering around somewhere in the bushes.

On June 29, 2001, he struck again. With a brand new agenda. Phase II of Seize Control had been brewing for a year in the basement of his treacherous cerebral laboratory. Having failed to exclude me from the Arbortext contract or seize control of Blueberry, Dwan now turned his attention to excluding me from the proceeds of the contract. A variation on the Starve Him Out scenario.

Now that he had crossed the line and produced a colossal and permanent disaster to both our friendship and our partnership, and no doubt his own psyche, all out war was apparently his only remaining option. Other than a heartfelt apology and a well publicized trip to rehab with a promise to reform and seek psychiatric help for the traumatic scars left over from his childhood which were responsible for his loathsome behavior.

Which did not occur.

His brain child this time had the additional clout of being backed up by Lawyer Number One, a vermin named Frank Bailey III. In all fairness to Mr. III, his representation of Dwan merely underscores that it is always dangerous to believe a guy’s sob story after the third beer.

Apparently, Mr. Dwan had convinced Mr. III that I was a drunken liability that was drowning Blueberry Software. His Blueberry Software. If there was only some way to get rid of a partner . . .

Vermin to the rescue.

It was quite simple, really. There were no laws governing Partnerships without Written Agreements between the partners. Which applied to Dweeble and me. After all, we were Life Long Friends. Who needed to sign some stinking papers?

A fundamental mistake probably covered in the first week of Business 101 classes. Which neither of us had enrolled in.

It was not, for instance, Felonious Criminal Theft to secretly place a password on the Blueberry web site which locked one partner out. Nor was it FCT to change the name of the company to Blue Tools Software and transfer all the Blueberry retail and contract revenue into only one partner’s pocket. These crimes of theft and embezzlement did not apply to Partnerships. Business entities most surely recognized by the IRS, but not the police.

Mr. III’s advice depended on two assumptions he had been led to presume. One, that one partner had no value and could simply be erased. And two, that one erased partner did not have sufficient funds to sue the partner who performed the erasure.

Dwan was certain of point number two and, despite the previous year’s expository catastrophe, chose to ignore point number one. And so, proceeding full speed backwards upon III’s advice, he performed the erasure by having III send me an official email announcing the dissolution of our partnership.

Of course, I was still expected to continue performing my duties for the Arbortext contract. And I could be reasonable and sign over the company and be allowed a small, tastefully determined salary in the future.

As you might imagine, these terms were not particularly acceptable to me. I don’t suppose Dwan thought they would be, but with Mr. III’s official repertoire of rotten legal tricks filling the coffers of his confidence, he no doubt felt he had me boxed in. He had all the money and all the business and client contacts. Fait Accompli. Knuckle under or belly up.

Needless to say, what this colossal creep was now attempting put an end to any pity I felt for him. It was one thing to attempt to alter the power structure. But quite another to destroy my ability to feed my family and pay the mortgage. I received no money – zilch – for six months! That he had no concern for the welfare of Mary, her kids, and our home launched him firmly into the stratosphere of unredeemable scoundrel.

An evil virus which had to be quarantined and expunged.

Mary and I consulted with Lawyer Number Two at this point, a fellow named Patrick McMahon. Who pretty much informed us that we were in a pickle, all right. Legally speaking.

As you might suspect, legal was not my native tongue. Fresh from Patrick’s office and armed with nothing, I was free to strap on my guns and blast away. Being a diplomatic gentleman had never worked for me, anyway. It was Mary’s idea to at least try civility. As usual, she was right. Once civility was dispensed with, you could be entirely justified in brute force.

Or, once again, a simple email.

Dwan had launched his attack a tad prematurely. True, I had finished providing the new and improved Microsoft Word export filter as required by the contract, which would be inserted into Epic Editor 4.2, but was still neck deep in the debugging, beta testing process. Which meant Arbortext had perilous and immediate need of me, but none for him. He was, in the immortal and endearing words of Patrick, de minimis – of utterly trivial worth. Those two words were worth every nickel we paid him.

Well, not really. But at least it was more than nothing. Mary and I could even use these cute new words to freshen up our marital disputes. Which we never had, of course. But if we did . . .

The email went to Arbortext informing them, once again, that I was ceasing work since Buttwipe was keeping all the money and I refused to work without pay. I imagined Sterken rolling his eyes at the cow pasture droppings he had stepped into involving Blueberry Software, but there was nothing to be done about it. For him or us. It was too late in the game. He had customer commitments to honor. And Dwan and I were openly at war. Preserving our wholesome image had passed into history. My wallet was empty and the bills were overdue.

Knowing what I since have learned, it’s doubtful Sterken’s eyeball rolling was a worrisome maneuver. Much more likely it was a gleeful response to a golden opportunity to play partnership pinball and firmly establish himself as My Friend and Supporter. He had already cleaned out Dwan’s brain; all that was left was mine. The dumb programmer who hadn’t read the contract and didn’t know squat about anything but the source code on his computer screen.

A pretty fair assessment, should he have made it, I have to admit.

And so it came to pass that Sterken informed Mr. De Minimis that all royalty checks would hence forth be mailed to yours truly and not to him. This was a non-negotiable demand by me. I informed Sterken I would never have any further dealings with Kevin Dwan. Sterken would either deal solely with me or have no further source code from Blueberry Software.

After mulling it over for a half a second (legally speaking, I did not precisely time this interval, so it may have been two or three times longer), Sterken agreed. I would, of course, be responsible for seeing that Mr. DM received his appropriate share of the proceeds which he had proven incapable himself of sharing. Which of course I would do. Just as soon as Dwan removed the password on the Blueberry web site and buried his Blue Tools baloney.

Which he refused to do, since it would Openly acknowledge that he was a colossal idiot in the first place. And had compounded his colossalness by repeating it yet again. Better to leave things unsaid, I suppose. Was it down in flames or up in smoke? Grisly, at any rate.

Word trickled down to Mary and me that Mr. Frank Bailey III had recused himself from representation of Mr. Kevin Dwan. Who was left to ponder his own self-destruction. So carefully and cruelly crafted over nearly two years of vicious intent – all to achieve for me what he sought for himself. Down the toilet he had flushed himself, on out to the sea of lasting shame and permanent regret.

All that remained for him was the pursuit of vengeance. At which endeavor, as we shall see, he was much more successful. Having accomplished his own ruination, he now set out doggedly to accomplish mine, as well.

At any cost.

Oh, Mr. Kevin Dwan. Look at the mess you made of yourself. The bulk of your life, your legacy, your soul, so unredeemably pissed away. All integrity sacrificed and lost. For a few dollars more. A few measley dollars. That never even came.

Cue the funeral dirge, you poor sonavabitch.

He still controlled the web site and its retail income, so maybe it was all some sort of wash, wherever it was he did his internal laundry. Although his Filtrix product no longer had any programmers to enhance and support it. The Blue Tools Software product, that is. The Blueberry Software product of the same name, courtesy of a new web site I threw up into cyberspace, still offered the real deal.

Not that anyone knew about the real, versus the phony, Blueberry Software. But Mary would change all that.

And soon.

To be continued Monday, June 16, when the Sterken/Arbortext royalty fraud scam begins to bubble to the surface . . . Free Hit Counter website statistics


June 13, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Life, News, Software, Technology | , , ,

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