Digital Altitude’s attorneys are out, no victim funds for legal fees
Several interesting developments in the FTC’s case against Digital Altitude have arisen over the past few weeks.
On July 26th Judge Kronstadt issued several orders regarding the developments, which we’ll dive into below.
Back in May the FTC filed for default judgment against Aspire Processing LLC, Disc Enterprises Inc., Rise Systems and Enterprise LLC (Utah and Nevada), Soar International, Digital Altitude, Aspire Processing Limited and Aspire Ventured LTD.
Default Judgment has been granted against all of the above defendants.
The entered judgment prohibits the companies above from
- creating, advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, or selling, or assisting others in creating, advertising, marketing, promoting, offering for sale, or selling any Business Coaching Program or any Investment Opportunity
- holding, directly or indirectly, any interest in any business entity engaged in such conduct
- credit card laundering or making, or assisting others in making, directly or by implication, any false or misleading statement in order to obtain Payment Processing services
- failing to disclose to an entity that enables the acceptance of payments material information related to a Merchant Account
- making misrepresentations in connection with the advertising,
marketing, promoting, or offering for sale of any good or service as to the substantial income consumers will earn or likely earn, the business coaching consumers will receive that will enable them to build successful online businesses, and other material facts about such goods or services
The order also requires the company to cooperate fully with the FTC and pretty much provide them with any information requested.
In a nutshell, Digital Altitude as we knew it is over.
Michael Force and Mary Dee denied legal expenses carve-out
Both Michael Force and Mary Dee have requested access to seized Digital Altitude funds, to cover their respective legal expenses.
In a filed declaration, Mary Dee cited Digital Altitude as her “primary source of income”.
Dee then declares that, from March 22, 2018 through April 22, 2018, she began “work on a new business venture,” has “not earned any income yet as a result of my efforts but [is] continuing to work until [she does].”
Dee declares that undertaking her new business has been difficult in light of her medical issues.
She declares that she cannot “afford my legal fees as I attempt to begin a new financial venture,” and that her husband “is retired and has been since before the FTC filed its complaint.”
In a similar filed declaration, Michael Force also cited Digital Altitude as his “primary source of income”.
Force declares that his “education is limited,” because he did not attend college after graduating from high school, and instead enlisted in the Marines.
Force adds that “the stigma attached to the FTC’s lawsuit has destroyed my reputation, which is preventing me from pursuing any business associated with my name or using my name to build a brand or business”.
Force adds that he “cannot locate employment as [he does] not have the sufficient skills and education to procure such a job outside of the sales and marketing industry that [he has] been a part of for the previous two decades.”
Force declares that he has been the “primary support” for his wife and two children, and that “even if I obtained employment, the likelihood of being able to support my family in the same manner I could before is highly suspect.”
Force declares that “attempting to pay my legal fees . . . would place an insurmountable burden on me.”
Despite both Force and Dee filing signed financial disclosures, the court found
there was evidence that Responding Defendants had funds, or indirect access to funds, that were distinct from their frozen assets, and that had been used by them to pay for certain legal expenses.
Submissions show that Responding Defendants had been able to obtain approximately $35,000 and used it to pay their legal fees.
Responding Defendants argue that this does not show that they could continue to do so. However, they do not explain the source of the funds that were expended, and why it is no longer available.
Totally nothing suss going on there.
Nor was evidence submitted as to any details about the efforts of Dee and Force to find other employment.
Force declares that he “cannot locate employment” due to the limited nature of his education and skills and the publicly available information regarding this action.
However, there is no evidence that Force has actually taken steps to seek employment.
Moreover, without specific evidence, the general statements about the limitations on his ability to find new work are of limited probative value.
Force has shown that he is a determined person, who served his country in the Marines.
There should be some employment opportunities available to him.
Nor does Force present evidence as to whether his spouse has been, or could become, employed.
Dee declared that she spent a month working on her new business venture but she has not yet earned any income from it.
However, there is no evidence that Dee has taken steps to seek other employment opportunities, or why her retired spouse cannot provide financial support for her.
Maybe Force and Dee can take a leaf out Steve Labriola’s book and get a job at Domino’s Pizza.
Or if fast-food isn’t their thing, how about working admin at a trucking company?
Viewed collectively, this evidence does not support directing the Receiver to release additional frozen funds to pay for Responding Defendants’ legal fees.
Consequently, Michael Force and Mary Dee’s request for a legal expenses carve-out was denied.
Digital Altitude’s attorneys are out
Citing almost $100,000 in unpaid legal fees, On July 13th three attorneys representing Digital Altitude, Thermography For Life, Michael Force and Mary Dee sought permission to withdraw.
The motion was granted, leaving Force and Dee without legal representation.
As to Digital Altitude and Thermography For Life, being entities they are unable to represent themselves.
Both companies have been given till August 13th to find new counsel.
A failure to do so may result in the striking of their answers and the entry of their defaults.
The FTC has been “invited” to file a “short status report” regarding ongoing discovery issues by August 7th.