Prenda Continues Character Assassination Of Alan Cooper

from the do-they-think-this-helps-them? dept

You may recall that Prenda briefly tried a strategy of claiming that Alan Cooper was mentally unstable and off his meds in trying to explain to Judge Otis Wright why Cooper said he had absolutely nothing to do with AF Holdings, despite his purported signature being on court documents as the representative from the company that Judge Wright and many others have said is clearly a shell company owned and controlled by Prenda lawyers John Steele, Paul Hansmeier and Paul Duffy. The whole “off his meds” argument didn’t get much play in Wright’s courtroom, but apparently Prenda hasn’t given up on that strategy.

Last week, in yet another Prenda case, this time in Arizona, a local lawyer hired by Prenda, named Steven Goodhue, decided to double down with fanciful tales of Alan Cooper. In this case, the judge, G. Murray Snow, read Judge Wright’s order and rightfully pointed out that it raised serious questions about the case in his courtroom, and asked Prenda/AF Holding to explain why the whole case shouldn’t be dismissed. There will be hearing on this on Friday, but in the meantime, Goodhue decided to file a response that has to be read to be believed. In this case, another mysterious name showed up besides just Cooper’s: Raymond Rogers. Goodhue responds to questions about who signed the documents by insisting that it’s exactly who it said on the document:

The persons who signed Exhibit B to Plaintiff’s complaint are Raymond Rogers and Alan Cooper. Although Cooper has repudiated his corporate representative status, Cooper’s repudiation lacks credibility for the reasons set forth herein.

And then we dig into why Goodhue/Prenda insists Cooper is not credible, which goes deep into conspiracy theory territory, implying that EFF is somehow paying off Cooper to come out against Prenda:

Alan Cooper’s repudiation of his corporate representative status is not credible. To put Cooper’s repudiation in its proper context, the Court might consider the following questions: (1) why is an individual from Northern Minnesota testifying before courts across the United States in copyright infringement actions; (2) how is he paying for all of this; and (3) when did he get his start? Cooper’s testimony at a March 11, 2013, hearing before Judge Wright provided some clues.

Well, the answer to the first question is fairly easy: he was testifying in California (as far as I know the only court “across the United States” that Cooper has testified in) because Judge Wright ordered him to show up, along with Team Prenda, who chose not to show up. As for paying for that one trip, it’s already been stated that EFF paid for that trip, but I don’t see how that’s damning in any way. Cooper had to show up one way or the other, and EFF covered his travel budget.

At the hearing, Cooper revealed that he first became involved in this nationwide effort when he received an anonymous text message with contact information for EFF panel attorney, Paul Godfread. The text message informed Cooper that he needed to contact Godfread to avoid serious liability…. Shortly thereafter, Cooper, through attorney Godfread, filed a lawsuit against attorney John Steele and others seeking $4.6 million in damages for the misuse of his name…. Contemporaneously with those efforts, EFF panel attorneys from across the nation began using Cooper’s repudiation to launch collateral attacks on Plaintiff’s copyright infringement lawsuits…. These attacks met with limited success, with one notable exception—the sanctions order issued by Judge Wright. EFF panel attorneys paid for Cooper and Godfread to fly from Minnesota to the Los Angeles, California hearing before Judge Wright and Cooper was escorted around at the hearing by an EFF staff attorney who has spearheaded the EFF’s efforts to stymie copyright enforcement nationwide.

This is a bit of revisionist history, but it ignores the key point: which is that someone whom Prenda/AF Holding insisted he had signed a key document, explained that he never had, and presented quite detailed info suggesting that John Steele had been signing his name. And, let’s not forget evidence in other cases that John Steele clearly claimed to be Alan Cooper at times. All of that seems relevant. The fact that lots of courts were alerted to the same possible fraud on the court isn’t “collateral attacks,” it’s relevant information in multiple cases involving what appears to be pretty blatant and outright fraud.

The filing digs deeper into the conspiracy theory, arguing that Godfread is representing Cooper just to boost his own business, which is the type of claim you make when you’re completely desperate and have no real argument. From there it descends into a massive character attack on Alan Cooper. It lays out Cooper as being a close friend of Steele’s who “joined Steele’s family for dinner over 100 times” and “babysat Steele’s daughter,” but who ran into some financial difficulties and asked Steele for any job leads. He then claims that Steele explained the whole copyright trolling business to Cooper, and Cooper wanted to get in on it, with Steele’s help, though eventually he didn’t go that route:

Steele described the litigation and his business to Cooper. At some point in early 2011, Steele and Cooper discussed how a friend of Steele’s was exploring opportunities relating to purchasing and marketing adult content. Cooper expressed interest in learning more about these opportunities and Steele offered to help him learn more. Eventually, Steele and Cooper agreed that Steele would help Cooper form a business entity that would allow Cooper to pursue these opportunities. He spoke to Steele many times about this project. Cooper was overheard by his long time friend, Brent Berry, asking Steele, “How’s my porn company doing?” He further joked about never having to worry about having beer money again. Cooper’s then-wife was against Cooper’s participation in the adult industry. They regularly fought about this issue, and these fights were overheard by multiple people, including Steele and a mutual friend, Jason Flesher.

Those statements about “how’s my porn company doing?” came out in that earlier filing, but many people noted that if Cooper was actually running the company, that’s not the kind of question he would ask, so it only served to raise more questions about Prenda/Steele’s involvement. So, in this filing, they try to work around that by claiming that Cooper wasn’t talking about AF Holdings, but about a different company Steele was supposedly going to set up for him, but that never actually happened. Again, if that’s true, that doesn’t make any sense, because if he didn’t go forward with it, why would he ask how his “company” was doing?

Cooper ended up not moving forward with the ideas Steele proposed to him, but he continued to express interest in connecting with people in the industry to learn more about the business. Steele offered to introduce Cooper to Mark Lutz, who operated two companies, AF Holdings, LLC and Ingenuity13, LLC. Id. Specifically, Steele informed Cooper that he could volunteer as a corporate representative for these companies in order to gain exposure to the industry and people who could help him. Id. In this way, Cooper could identify opportunities for himself, and possibly develop partnerships with industry insiders. Cooper participated in a limited number of transactions in the latter half of 2011, including acknowledging two assignment agreements on behalf of AF Holdings, LLC.

Again, this doesn’t make any sense. Being the “corporate representative” does nothing to help him get more exposure in the industry, and of course this directly contradicts Cooper’s own testimony and claims. From there, we go deeper into the character assassination of Cooper. The filing makes some fairly serious allegation against Cooper including that he was “usually inebriated and acting aggressively,” threatening people staying in Steele’s cabins, that he was constantly asking Steele for money and coming up with “half-baked business ideas.” Then he accuses Cooper of outright theft and property destruction:

In September 2012, due to this worsening behavior, Steele asked Cooper to leave his property… Cooper was extremely upset and embarked on an extensive campaign of revenge…. Cooper used a chainsaw to remove large portions of load-bearing walls in Steele’s guest cabin, tore down nearly every interior wall in the guest cabin, stole 4 rifles, 1 shotgun and 5 pistols Steele stored on his property, threatened prospective buyers of Steele’s property, cut down significant acreage of wood and unlawfully removed it from Steele’s property, and stole hundreds of items, including tools, equipment, lumber, and virtually every item that was not bolted down in Steele’s kitchen. Id. Cooper even stole a large trailer of Steele’s that Cooper used to haul away entire rooms of furniture from Steele’s cabin.

Those are pretty serious charges, and I wonder if there’s a police report to support those claims filed at the time. Steele further claims that Cooper demanded “a lot of money” from Steele or that “he would be sorry for kicking him out,” and a couple months later, Cooper and Godfread carried through with their threats. They also claim that “Over time, Cooper’s accusations against Steele and Plaintiff have changed.” Having followed this case pretty closely, I’ve yet to see any changes to the accusations. I’ve seen Steele’s story change repeatedly, but not Cooper’s.

Also, given the character attacks on Cooper, it seems odd that Goodhue/Prenda/Steele appear to be arguing (1) Cooper is mentally unstable, unable to hold down a job, not very intelligent or capable and (2) that he’s masterminded a huge sneaky scam that involves first having Steele get him involved in copyright trolling, and then turning around and shaking down Steele for forging his name on various documents. The first doesn’t match very well with the second.

At this point, it’s clear that at least one person is clearly flat out lying in the various cases concerning Alan Cooper, and despite the character assassination attempts, I’d argue that Cooper has been significantly more credible from the outset.

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Companies: af holdings, prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Prenda Continues Character Assassination Of Alan Cooper”

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47 Comments
Eponymous Coward says:

Wait....

Wasn’t the initial reaction to Cooper’s assertion, that Steele had misused his identity, that it was a different Alan Cooper running AF Holdings, or am I mistaken in my memory here? If I am recalling this correctly then those original denials of his claim by Prenda should be highly pertinent to swatting down these new attacks against Alan!

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, they’re attacking Cooper’s character. That’s exactly what you do to anyone you disagree with. It’s hilarious to see you “offended” by it here. That’s Play #1 in the Techdirt Dirtbagger Manual. That’s your bread and butter. Seriously. And you know it.

Besides, you can’t prove that Cooper didn’t sign those documents and that he’s not off his rocker. But keep making those faith-based assertions, Mikey. Good on ya!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Hello John Steele. Would you like to play a game?

No wait. I was being a little quick there…. this isn’t tic, tac, toe or nuclear war here with no winners. We all win by getting these Prenda people away from the courtroom (except when they are the defendants).

Maybe HAL 9000 as judge instead: “John, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye”

Loki says:

When you’re running a shell game against one or two people at a time, it’s not too hard to distract of obfuscate where the pea is (or if you’ve actually palmed it, and it’s not actually under any shell).

But I don’t think they’ve grasped the reality of how many people are watching them spin their little shells round and round which exponentially increases the likelihood that someone, somewhere can tell you where the pea is at any given time.

This clearly isn’t going to end well for them, nor for the lawyers foolish enough to defend them at this point.

Mr. Smarta** (profile) says:

If you're going to use a fake name...

You know, if you’re going to use a fake name that is eventually going to get caught and you’ll be called out on, you might as well choose a funny name. What about names like “John Wayne”, or “Hubert Mooseknuckle”, “Harry Horsenuts”, or even the popular name “Dipthong Ballsack”. At least using that last one will get some laughs in the courtroom and break the ice a little bit.

Make it a challenge to see if the judge can keep a straight face. Bet your colleagues that the first snicker will come within one minute, two minutes, etc.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: If you're going to use a fake name...

i can beat that (yes, disgusting pun intended):
in junior high, had a nice guy who was kindy dorky, whose last name was ‘Bader’, so how respectful was it of all the guys to refer to him as ‘Master Bader’…

‘course, that was back when ‘bullying’ was normal…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Mind-boggling Prenda "logic."

Mike missed one gem: the Footnote 1 (emphasis is mine):

Plaintiff conferred with Raymond Rogers and obtained an affidavit from him attesting that he personally signed the assignment. Plaintiff has been unable to confer with Mr. Cooper on this matter. Mr. Cooper has disclaimed personally acknowledging the assignment, but to Plaintiff?s knowledge has not disclaimed authorizing a third-party to do so on his behalf.

Can you believe in this?

Translated to plain English:

Steele: Did you sign this?
Cooper: No.
Steele: OK.

Later:

Steele: While this guy Cooper said that he did not sign it, he did not say that it’s not OK for anyone else in the world to sign on his behalf. Hence, in case me or Lutz or whoever signed this for Cooper without his knowledge, it happened essentially with his permission.

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

Those statements about “how’s my porn company doing?” came out in that earlier filing, but many people noted that if Cooper was actually running the company, that’s not the kind of question he would ask, so it only served to raise more questions about Prenda/Steele’s involvement. So, in this filing, they try to work around that by claiming that Cooper wasn’t talking about AF Holdings, but about a different company Steele was supposedly going to set up for him, but that never actually happened.

Of course, Steele just happened to forget that important detail the first time around.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

An interesting comment from FCT (by Falcon789):

-In Goodhue’s response to the OSC it states:

In September 2012, due to this worsening behavior, Steele asked Cooper to leave his property. Steele Aff. ? 18. Cooper was extremely upset and embarked on an extensive campaign of revenge.

But per Brent Berry (Steele’s Real Estate Agent), there was to be an open house to view the property on Sept 15 & 22, 2012. The house was to be auctioned off on Sept 29, 2012 this video was posted to YouTube on Aug 20, 2012. It would seem to me that the reason that Cooper was “kicked out” was due to the fact they would be showing and auctioning off the property in Sept 2012, which they knew in Aug 2012. So I just don’t buy that it was due to Cooper’s behavior that he had to leave.

-It is also my opinion that the damage described in Goodhue’s response by Steele done to the property by Cooper in early September 2012 would have taken quite some time to fix, thus the property would not have been ready to show by Sept 15, 2012.

– Posted on Aug 20 2012
MN LOG HOME AUCTION TO BE SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER OVER $390K
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JK3GTto11A

“Open House & Inspection Dates”
Sept 15th & 22nd at 1pm
Auction on Sept 29th 2012

sorrykb says:

…stole 4 rifles, 1 shotgun and 5 pistols Steele stored on his property, threatened prospective buyers…

Apparently it’s not enough to appropriate his name. Now they’re saying Alan Cooper is dangerously mentally unstable and armed.
Just when I think that Prenda have finally stooped about as they can go, they go and prove me wrong again. Classy, boys. Real classy.

Anonymous Coward says:

“stole 4 rifles, 1 shotgun and 5 pistols”, That’s a pretty serious accusation to be throwing around… and submitting to a court. I’d hope this could be easily checked as surely a theft of this type needs to be reported to the police, I mean US gun law is a bit nuts, but I’d like to think it’s not that crazy.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

I have to laugh at Prenda’s desperation in the Alan Cooper saga. The minute Steele found out that Alan Cooper (you know the real one, not the one that is a figment of John’s imagination) had asserted his identity was stolen, Steele was blowing up Coopers phone and leaving him intimidating messages to stay mum.

Steele also could have stated these facts in Judge Wrights court, and even produced the real Alan Cooper which would have ended most of this then and there.

So why not do it? It would have been easy for Prenda to do this and end the whole mess. In my opinion Steele and Prenda couldn’t do this because their Alan Cooper didn’t exsist.

Steele wont testify under oath in court nor will he swear any pleadings under oath, he knows Their Alan Cooper doesn’t exsist except on their paper, so if it isn’t true Steele sure isn’t going to swear to it anything where he could be caught.

Prenda knows it is in a spot on Alan Cooper and the lawsuit that the real Alan Cooper launched in Minnesota may have been dismissed but there is no way that it is over yet, I would guarantee that.

This is going to be Prenda’s Achilles heal and will lead to their demise. Think about this, if Prenda’s real Alan Cooper exsisted, then why would they be going so far in re-organizing all these entities and making sure that Mark Lutz is now officially the CEO ( AKA THE NEW FALL GUY)

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

have to laugh at Prenda’s desperation in the Alan Cooper saga. The minute Steele found out that Alan Cooper (you know the real one, not the one that is a figment of John’s imagination) had asserted his identity was stolen, Steele was blowing up Coopers phone and leaving him intimidating messages to stay mum.

Steele also could have stated these facts in Judge Wrights court, and even produced the real Alan Cooper which would have ended most of this then and there.

So why not do it? It would have been easy for Prenda to do this and end the whole mess. In my opinion Steele and Prenda couldn’t do this because their Alan Cooper didn’t exsist.

Steele wont testify under oath in court nor will he swear any pleadings under oath, he knows Their Alan Cooper doesn’t exsist except on their paper, so if it isn’t true Steele sure isn’t going to swear to it anything where he could be caught.

Prenda knows it is in a spot on Alan Cooper and the lawsuit that the real Alan Cooper launched in Minnesota may have been dismissed but there is no way that it is over yet, I would guarantee that.

This is going to be Prenda’s Achilles heal and will lead to their demise. Think about this, if Prenda’s real Alan Cooper exsisted, then why would they be going so far in re-organizing all these entities and making sure that Mark Lutz is now officially the CEO ( AKA THE NEW FALL GUY)

Prenda and Steele knew they had no choice but top do this, their Alan Cooper didn’t exsist, they cant produce him and it was going to hinder their lawsuit capability.

Now they have a new fall guy (Sorry Brent, back to advertising on Craigslist for you)in Mark Lutz. What will be interesting is when RICO comes into play.

Lutz already bugged out to Mexico when shit hit the fan, and I doubt that Lutz wouldn’t consider turning to a professional witness to save his ass. Gibbs will be the other to turn especially after being fingered by Prenda as the bad guy in this.

Prenda, Duffy, Steele and Hansmeier are going to be the main targets for RICO. Lutz and Gibbs will be the first to give it up and co-operate. Whether Stelle’s friendship with Hansmeier will survive the test of a RICO indictment will be anyones guess.

Hansmeier, Gibbs and Duffy and all up for State Bar investigations some in one state, some in multiple states…but they all possibly risk loss of their licence to practice.

Now if that happens they are going to be a little peeved that Steele risks not losing his livelihood, but they do.

With the risk of heavy fines and jail time in a RICO case I see Steele being the guy that is going to be the man to take down, and I would have to believe that the others will want to save themselves and maybe extract a little revenge in the process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets keep this simple

Correct me if I’m wrong, but here’s what’s going on in this case:
Prenda is suing individuals on behalf of AF Holdings for infringement of copyrights that AF Holdings “owns”.
Prenda is arguing that Alan Cooper runs AF Holdings.
Alan Cooper is arguing that he has nothing to do with AF Holdings.

Why doesn’t the judge make their life easier by simply taking Prenda at their word, and simply asking Alan Cooper if the case should be dismissed with prejudice?

It seems a really really stupid plan for a firm representing an organization to try to claim that someone who hates them has full control of that organization…

Matthew Cline says:

Re: Lets keep this simple

Prenda is arguing that Alan Cooper runs AF Holdings.

In the case of AF Holdings, Prenda claims that Cooper was AF’s corporate representative who signed for AF when a copyright was transferred to AF. Prenda might have claimed that Cooper was a CEO/manager of another of their shell companies, but my memory might be wrong on that.

apauld (profile) says:

John Steele's mind...

This Alan Cooper guy stole my guns, he trashed my guest cabin and he is clearly mentally unstable… I’m just not sure what to do… should I have him arrested for stealing and destruction of property??? or should I try to have him 302’d for his own safety and the safety of others??? NO, I GOT IT!!! I’ll have my lawyer buddies and I work for him!!! WOW, I’m a GENIUS!!!”

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