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2012-04-05

Sam Consalvi - going, going ...

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

According to reports from the Bandera County Sheriff's Office, Sam Consalvi and his wife, Efren, have apparently skipped town, leaving the management of The Oaks of Bandera with $7,000 in upaid rent.

"I talked to the manager of the apartment complex and she said it looked like the couple left about two weeks ago. Their apartment is empty," said BCSO Investigator Danny Sanchez of the department's criminal investigation division. When Consalvi blew into town in January, selling advertisements for the Bandera Brand, a monthly magazine, the couple signed a year's lease with The Oaks, Sanchez said.

If a complaint is filed with the BCSO regarding the unpaid rent, Consalvi could be charged with a felony because of the amount of the money involved.

On the other hand, however, Consalvi seems to have settled legal woes that have dogged him from Idaho - to his satisfaction if not to that of his disgruntled former clients.

A press release from the Idaho AG's office indicated the settlement "resolves allegations that Sam Consalvi, owner of Sector Marketing, accepted money from businesses based on his misrepresentation that their purchased ads would appear in the monthly Spotlight."

On Friday, March 23, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said that Idaho businesses that had paid for ad space in the Gem County Spotlight are entitled to refunds under a settlement with Consalvi.

Earlier that month, Consalvi had signed a judgment with Idaho Deputy Attorney General Stephanie Guyon agreeing to provide restitution to his former clients and avoid litigation. Court documents from the Fourth Judicial District outlined the repayment - which amounts to $50 a month, beginning in March. All subsequent payments of a minimum of $50 via cashier's checks must also be submitted by the first day of the month. The payments will be subject to accrued interest.

Earlier, Sanchez and Chief Deputy Richard Smith BCSO had informed investigators with Idaho Attorney General's Office that Consalvi had relocated in Bandera. This enabled Wasden to obtain the consent judgment, which also:

• requires Consalvi to refund businesses that paid for ads in the Gem County Spotlight;

• prohibits Consalvi from selling ad space in any type of media within Idaho;

• prohibits Consalvi from soliciting Idaho consumers for the purchase of ad space; and

• requires Consalvi to pay the Attorney General $800 in attorney fees and $20,000 in civil penalties if he violates the consent judgment.

Small business owners in Idaho who believe they are entitled to refunds under the settlement and who have not already filed a complaint with the Attorney General must file a complaint before May 14. Wasden will forward Consalvi's monthly restitution payments to eligible businesses as funds become available.

As a result, however, eligible business owners should expect delay in receiving their restitution.

Speaking candidly, Bob Cooper, media contact for AG Wasden, indicated that consumers might never be fully reimbursed. Additionally, he said there would be no accurate tally of the money advertisers feel they are owed until after the May 14 cut-off date.

In December, Consalvi left Idaho without publishing a proposed monthly magazine or returning money he had collected from businesses for advertising in the magazine. A month later, he turned up in Bandera, pushing a similar venture.

Business owners in the Emmett, Idaho, area filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office claiming they paid Consalvi as much as $700 for ad space in the unpublished magazine.

According to complainants, Consalvi represented he was starting a community magazine featuring local businesses. He also stated that the glossy magazine would be mailed to all residents in Gem County beginning in December 2011. His claims in Idaho mirrored those pitched to merchants in Bandera and Real counties.

In Idaho, Consalvi produced a rough draft of the magazine, but never published or distributed final copies as promised. After producing only a few copies of the magazine, he stopped returning customers phone calls and moved out of Idaho.

In one respect, however, Bandera County advertisers were luckier that their counterparts in Idaho.

Perhaps due, in part, to law enforcement scrutiny, Consalvi rushed an inaugural issue of The Bandera Brand - which was due out March 12 - to press. He gave an abbreviated version of the magazine to some advertisers. The 14-page page, 8 1/2-inch by 5 1/2-inch publication listed 37 advertisers.

As one disgruntled advertiser noted, "It didn't turn out as promised. The magazine looks more like a pamphlet." And, no one can confirm that 5,000 copies of the booklet had been produced.

At the time, Consalvi indicated that an expanded version of "The Bandera Brand" would come out on Thursday, March 1, and would be "in the mailboxes of all Bandera County residents by Wednesday, Feb. 29."

Those dates have come and gone without further publication, but, according to Sanchez, none of the advertisers has filed a complaint against Consalvi with the BCSO. "The April issue of the Bandera Brand should be out by Thursday, April 12," Sanchez said. "We'll see what happens then." Complaints against Consalvi can be filed by calling Sanchez at 830-796-3771.

The Courier's involvement in the matter began when one of the newspaper's advertisers brought in his contract with Consalvi for Publisher Gail Joiner to peruse. A subsequent Internet search led to articles about Consalvi's former disgruntled clients in Idaho and Washington State.