Sunday, September 28, 2014

CROW NEVER TASTED SO SWEET: $375K Painting Recovered with Help of AZ Republic

For more details, see the blog posts listed at the bottom of this page.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Anglen, Robert  
Date: Sun, Sep 28, 2014 at 9:40 AM
Subject: Story on camelback consign
To: Glenn Michaels 

Story is in today's paper. Your blog is mentioned prominently in the story. Thanks for all of your help. Here is a link:


I just love being wrong... for a good cause. 

Back on June 1, 2014, I wrote that the Arizona Republic had broken the story of the Consignment Vampire's trail of tears too late "to protect the unwary souls who might have been alerted had that story appeared months earlier. Too late, I say, because Camelback Consign & Design had closed at least a week or two before this story ran."

Blogger eats crow, says he "loves it" then asks for more.

Now, this isn't the first time I've had to munch crow. Just a week after the blog post referenced above, I freely admitted I was wrong in this post:  

You see, in today's walloping good story (Found in, of all places: the Arizona Economy section of the Sunday Republic) reporter Robert Anglen explains how his paper helped a second consignor (well, the McCleve family), recover a Russian painting valued at $375,000. The painting was given to Mike Burns to sell. Instead, Burns used it recompense yet another consignor, one Don Davis, a Paradise Valley resident and former jewelry store owner, for "several cases of settings and gems."  Davis, it seems, gave Burns a whole lotta bling to sell on his behalf when his own (unidentified) store failed. 

The Republic doesn't tell us where the bling went. That's another story. It does report that Burns couldn't return the bling to Davis and couldn't pay him for it either. Not in cash. So instead, Burns gave Davis that Russian painting and a number of other valuable items consigned by the McCleve family. 

But believe me, the story takes another couple of thriller-style twists and turns before it concludes. So read it yourself. I won't steal Anglen's thunder here. That would be unfair. 

So there you have it.  I am Wrong Again. Twice in just three months. Terribly, obviously, completely and publicly proven all wrong. What else is left to say? How 'bout... DO IT AGAIN

Or in the immortal words of Oliver Twist (aka Charles Dickens), "Please sir, I want more." 

Call me a masochist. That's OK. I can take it. Bloggers are made of tougher stuff than is commonly supposed. Do it again. And again. Make me pay... until all of the victims - yours truly included - are made whole, again. 

The happiness of helping.

Guess what? Me, too!. That's right, this blog proved instrumental in the return of two other valuable items belonging to the McCleve family.

These gargoyles were found. But where are the McCleve valuables still missing? And where are mine?
On July 30th of this year, I published a blog post... 

... that offered a few new details about the ElJuana Hermansen story. ElJuana Hermansen is the first person whose paintings the Arizona Republic helped recover.

That blog post centers on two Phoenix Police Department incident reports. One of those reports identified a player in the Consignment Vampire drama whose name had not seen print: Norman Woodmansee. 

Eventually, Mr. Woodmansee contacted me about that post. We conversed on the phone. I sorta shot off my mouth about our civic responsibilities to each other, as citizens and ethical people. Something about how we were here to help each other. Had a responsibility to do it. Otherwise, we might be the ones suffering at the hands of another black fiend down the line... or something to that effect.

Mr. Woodmansee mentioned that he had been recompensed by Mike Burns in much the same way as was Don Davis, described above. With stuff.

I mentioned that I was missing a lot of stuff. Mr. Woodmansee promised to check and see if what he had received included any of the items I had lost - as identified in multiple posts in this blog - for example: 

Well, Mr. Woodmansee didn't have any of my things. But, when reviewing the blog, he discovered that he did have two large stone gargoyles (weighing in at about 400 lbs., each) that had been consigned by the McCleve family. That's the family whose Russian painting was recovered. 

Debbie McCleve had kindly sent me photos of her family's missing items which I was happy to post. Stop and take a peek. Maybe you've seen them!

I helped the two parties get in contact with each other. As reported in today's Arizona Republic article, "McCleve confirmed last week that Woodmansee returned the gargoyles. She said she was grateful that so many honest people were willing to come to her aid."

God bless you, Mr. Woodmansee. I may have helped. But you turned over the gargoyles... and you didn't have to. Didn't have to come forward. Didn't have to be a good person. You could have played dumb. You could have done the shrewd thing and just held onto the things. 
By the way. I would be delighted to publish photos and or really good, detailed descriptions of lost items for any and all other victims of Camelback Consign & Design willing to forward that material to me ( The more often descriptions and images appear on the Internet, the more likely it is that they can be recovered.

And thank you, too, Robert Anglen. It's a joy to know that the Arizona Republic employs people like you, people big enough to work in common cause with those who previously took pot shots at them.

Nope, not takin' anything back. Not at all. Just delighted to know that professionals like you are willing to listen to those who criticize them and move on without locking the door behind you.

That's a lesson all of us can learn from. 



There is a bottom line here. And no, it's not just getting my stuff back. Or receiving reimbursement. Or even making sure that all the other victims are made whole.

The bottom line: Our legislature needs to pass laws and implement strategies that ensure this sort of thing - consignment store scams, in particular - business scams in general, don't happen again. And again. And again. 

As it stands, victims of such scams have only two forms of recourse. 

#1. We can sue. And loose our shirts on attorney's fees... with scant hope of receiving the money we win in court and no chance of shutting down the SOB who did it. 

#2. The Attorney General of Arizona can prosecute the SOB under either criminal or civil statues. A successful civil suit can put a scammer out of business. It can collect damages. It doesn't prevent the scammer from finding an alternative or put the SOB in prison. A criminal prosecution can put SOB in prison.

The police can't act. They can't stop the theft. In most cases, they won't even take a report from a victim. No matter how often victims come calling. Neither can - apparently - the County Attorney.

So, if the AG is slow to act or decides not to, from a legal standpoint there's not a heck of a lot you or I can do. 

Nothing rips the fabric of society faster than festering injustice. It undermines all faith in public institutions. It impoverishes individuals and costs legitimate businesses their chance to earn your money and grow the economy.

The BBB, Call Joe, Call 12 and 5 on Your Side don't have the clout and the resources to tackle the really tough nuts... the ones that just don't care what is said about them as long as they can keep generating victims. They try. But that's clearly proven to be inadequate in this instance and others in recent memory: Terri's Consign and Design, for example.

That's why it is up to you and I to make our legislators aware of this issue and get their help in crafting laws that protect us... as opposed to protecting the business people conducting the scams, which is how the system works now. 

Don't believe me? 

What else explains how and why Burns was able to scam so many more people between last October and May of this year? October is when I contacted the AG, the BBB and most media outlets to complain. 

Why is Mike Burns is still a free man? Do you imagine that he is up to any good at all right now? Why have his loyal employees not been charged with anything? Why has his son, Justin, a longtime employee and as of April 2014, a member of the corporation, not been charged? 

Don't do me a favor. Act to protect yourself, your family, your friends and anyone else you care about.  The next great scam may be opening for business just around the corner from you now.

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