By TERRY GROOVER
The Oklahoma attorney general’s office is preparing a final restitution plan that could help bring to a close the case against the owners of a former Mustang-based vanity book publishing company.
Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for Attorney General Mike Hunter, said the restitution plan against Ryan and Richard Tate of Tate Publishing is expected to be filed in Canadian County District Court in September.
He said 500 people have been confirmed as victims of the Tate’s scheme to embezzle funds and materials. The total restitution is expected to be around $900,000.
That amount is
higher than the original total to which the Tates agreed when they entered their no-contest pleas in December.
The pair pleaded guilty to 44 counts that included embezzlement, attempted extortion, conspiracy and a pattern of criminal behavior.
They were sentenced to 20 years in prison. The sentence, however, was suspended.
In addition, they were ordered to immediately pay $109,000.
The total restitution was to be determined after all claims had been filed.
The deadline was June 15.
The attorney general’s office filed the final restitution total document with the court at the end of June.
The restitution plan is expected to be filed with the court on Sept. 5 at the Tates’ next court date.
Gerszewski said the restitution is based on the amount that officials could confirm was owed to the authors through receipts, credit card payments, checks and other financial documents.
Things like future earnings could not be confirmed, thus were not included in the restitution.
Special Judge Jack McCurdy had ordered the Tates to repay $825,895.22 to their customers. That number, Gerszewski said, increased as more victims filed claims against the publishers.
More then 2,200 complaints were filed against the company.
The embezzlement charges accused the Tates of taking money from authors for the publication of their material but failing to do so. They also did not return the artists’ money.
The attempted extortion charges relate to requiring the artists to pay the company a $50 processing fee for the return of their materials, otherwise, they said the material would be destroyed.
In November, the pair agreed to relinquish their rights to the material, which includes books, music, videos and other materials.
That allows victims to retrieve their materials and have the option of finding another publisher.
The investigation into the company began in June 2015 after the attorney general’s consumer product unit began receiving complaints against Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC and Tate Music Group LLC.
The complaints included failure to deliver products, failure to pay royalty earnings and of making threats to destroy files unless the artist paid a processing fee for the return of the artists’ files.
The affidavit that was filed with the case states that a review of bank records showed that monies produced by the sale of publishing or music production services were deposited into business checking accounts and then transferred to the personal checking accounts of Ryan and Christy Tate as well as Richard and Rita Tate.
Court records also indicated that the processing fees were initially deposited into the company’s accounts, but later transferred into personal checking accounts, and were used for personal transactions including dining and entertainment expenses at casinos.
The company closed in January 2017 after losing court cases that had been filed by Tennessee-based Lightning Source and Xerox.
A federal judge ordered the company to pay Lightning Source more than $2 million for money paid to Tate Publishing for the distribution and printing of 5.5 million books during a five-year contract.
Xerox was awarded $1,446,070.67 by a Canadian County judge.
Later that year, the Tates sent out an email stating that it planned to restart the business.
That notice prompted the attorney general to move forward with charges against the father and son.