John Steele's Property Caretaker Intervenes In Copyright Trolling Case, Alleging Identity Theft

from the prenda-law-comedy dept

Remember the comedy routine that really was a copyright troll court hearing involving notorious copyright troll lawyer John Steele and a bunch of lawyers who all denied representing the plaintiff? We hoped that people would take that transcript and turn it into a movie, and now, apparently, we may have Act II. Ars Technica and Fight Copyright Trolls both have the odd story of a man named Alan Cooper, who just happens to be employed by John Steele... but as a "caretaker" for some property Steele owns in Minnesota. And, well, I'll let his lawyer explain the details:
My client had for several years acted as a caretaker for a Minnesota property owned by an attorney by the name of John Steele. When visiting his property, Steele had on numerous occasions bragged to my client about a plan involving massive copyright legislation in multiple jurisdictions. He also specifically instructed my client to contact him if anyone asked about various corporations, that Cooper was to call him. When Cooper confronted Steele about that, Steele told him not to worry about it. Needless to say, my client was suspicious, but did not know what to make of this situation. Upon learning about the many lawsuits filed by AF Holdings and learning that AF Holdings has a CEO with an identical name he began to investigate further, eventually prompting him to retain counsel.

[...] When investigating this matter and calling the number listed on the website, I confirmed that Steele is currently "of counsel" with Prenda Law. I called and emailed local counsel, Michael Dugas to give notice of representation and find out if there was in fact a different Alan Cooper with AF Holdings. Within an hour of giving notice to Prenda Law and local counsel of my representation, Steele himself called my client several times in a row and asked if he had been talking to attorneys in Minnesota. Because I had not yet heard from from attorneys Dugas or Steele, I looked for an alternative phone number for attorney Dugas and found a different number than the one that appears on the pleading.... Calling that number, I heard a voicemail message which said "Prenda Law." I again left a message, but have received no response. Because I have no response from Dugas or Steele, and because Steele has contacted my client, my suspicious are now increased.

Today, I receved an email from another attorney at Prenda Law, Paul Duffy, suggesting that their client, AF Holdings, probably would not volunteer information. I reasserted my request to confirm that there was another Alan Cooper at AF Holdings. Shortly before sending this letter, Duffy emailed me again and said that I should not contact his office again.

My client would like certainty that his identify is not being used without his knowledge and against his will as the would be CEO of AF Holdings, LLC or as a manager of Ingenuity13, LLC....
This letter was sent to the court on a few different cases involving these companies. In at least one, the judge apparently didn't think this mattered. After saying that it was "reviewed by the court," the judge also said "the court will take no action on this request." In the other cases, the lawyer for AF Holdings, Michael Dugas wrote a response which does not attempt to clarify the situation, but instead basically tells the judge it's false and not to worry about it:
I write to respond to the November 29, 2012 letter filed with the Court by Attorney Paul Godfread. In his letter, Attorney Godfread accuses AF Holdings LLC of being a sham corporation and fraudulently holding his client out as its CEO. Both of these accusations are categorically false.

Attorney Paul Godfread filed an identical letter in a similar case currently pending before the Honorable Judge Joan N. Erickson. In a text entry, the Court indicated it reviewed the letter and “will take no action on [Attorney Godfread’s] request.” Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court reach similar decision. By way of separate action, Plaintiff will address Attorney Godfread’s egregious behavior.
Note that the letter leaves out the important part. You know, the part where they say that the "Alan Cooper" on these documents is a different Alan Cooper. It seems like that would help settle manners, especially if the initial claims were false.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2012 @ 4:35pm

    This one is just weird. I had to read it twice to figure out who was representing who and claiming what about who.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2012 @ 5:11pm

    This is the best that antipiracy enforcement has to offer? These are your knights in shining armour? Really?

    I look forward to seeing the usual trolls defending this behaviour. I'm lookin' at you, out_of_the_hurricane_head_up_your_asscrack.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Dec 2012 @ 6:10pm

    Exactly how much effort would it take for them to confirm the identity of their freakin' CEO?

    The fact that they gave a 'no comment' on something that you'd think would be a minor bit of info, certainly seems to support the idea that something pretty fishy is going on there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Dec 2012 @ 6:12pm


    Not really.

    These are incompetents who have managed to fool the courts, senior citizens, immigrants, and even Forbes. (I mean REALLY Kash are those of us who are actively fighting Steele that hard to find?)

    This is the latest shoe to drop in cases run be Prenda (Pretenda) Law.

    They like to scream how "pirates" are robbing their clients blind... and not talk about how they intimidate people into paying them to go away. A less nice word is extortion, and this has all been done with a courts blessing.

    The best antipiracy had to offer was CCI and the Copyright Alert System... vetted as being perfect by a firm paid $675,000 by the RIAA to lobby to get more copyright law which is also the former employer of Beryl Howell... the DC Federal Judge who is wholesale selling out to these extortion mills.

    Copy a DVD - your a horrible person who deserves to be in jail!
    Extort people - your just a fine upstanding member of the bar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Zos (profile), 7 Dec 2012 @ 6:51pm

    wow. thank you techdirt...this is almost as good as the Carreon saga.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), 7 Dec 2012 @ 8:45pm

    John Steele Screwed Up Big Time

    Seriously, if he hadn't been in the audience at the time this occurred, people probably wouldn't have connected all this to him, as this scheme seems insane even for him.

    We can only hope that the result of that screwup will be disbarment in ALL states and criminal prosecution for perjury and fraud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    MahaliaShere (profile), 7 Dec 2012 @ 9:35pm


    About as good as Righthsven as tool!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Dec 2012 @ 12:22am


    Because of the laws of the tax haven where the holding companies are based.

    IIRC it costs $25,000 to begin an investigation and you have to hire a local attorney to do so. There are no mandatory reporting laws so the entire thing is ripe for abuse.

    Notice contacting the holding company or their "lawyer" resulted in calls from Pretenda to the caretaker and not back to his lawyer.

    They do not want to give up ANYTHING that can be used to help figure out the web of lies they are functioning in.

    The lawyer for Mr. Cooper also missed ANOTHER holding company IIRC, I apologize I read so many documents I get confused, there is a document in a Pretenda Law case where the copyrights were transferred to not AF Holdings but AF Films yet AF Holdings was listed as the plaintiff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Dec 2012 @ 12:29am

    Re: John Steele Screwed Up Big Time

    You really should read

    Its been well known for a while that Steele is pulling the strings.

    He won't get disbarred in IL, it took them something like 8 years to finally disbar a lawyer that was in prison for his actions. The IL bar appears to not give a damn and won't take action even if they watch the lawyer shoot someone in front of them.

    A much better outcome would be the corporate veil being shattered, the cash being found, returning the extorted funds, and then criminal actions against not only Pretenda but their "clients" as well. One suspects there are agreements "transferring" copyrights for ongoing consideration in some way shape or form. The porn houses need to get nailed as well to make it clear these scams have huge costs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2012 @ 12:44am

    Re: John Steele Screwed Up Big Time

    In an amusing twist, According to the MN State office, Prenda Law doesn't exist in their state.

    And According to the FL State Department documents, there's no signatures on any paperwork, which implies that it was all filed through the online forms.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Dec 2012 @ 4:02am

    John Steele the man who steals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2012 @ 6:29am

    John Steele
    Joseph Stalin (Steel in russian)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. There are really trolls in any profession. John Steel takes the cake. I'm surprised he has not been disbarred yet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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