By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
For the most part, Green was right. There was nothing in his background worth investigating.
Except the ten-year sentence for theft in 1990, according to Harris County Court records. Green was released after one year. According to an affidavit by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer, the theft worked like this: Green gave an accomplice an American Express card in Green's ex-wife's name. The accomplice charged multiple purchases of $49.99 at a Chevron station, when "in fact, no merchandise had been bought." The accomplice then gave the cash to Green. During April and May 1990, the charges exceeded $20,000.
At the time Green was popped for that crime, he was on probation for forgery for two earlier charges out of Brazos County, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons. He was sentenced to ten years for those, which he served concurrently with the Harris County sentencing.
Also falling short of the Glenn Green Investigative Worthiness Standard was the ten years deferred adjudication in 1993 for fraudulent transfer of a motor vehicle. According to the investigating officer's notes, part of the case record in Harris County Court, Green bought and sold over a dozen cars, promising to pay off the leases, when he had no authorization from the lenders.
All but one of the 20 associated charges were dropped. He was also ordered to pay $31,233 in restitution
Harris County court records also show that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sued Green and his wife, Starla, in 2002. The suit was for nonpayment of $107,000 Glenn and Starla bid on a champion steer and a grand champion barrow pig named Cowboy in the 1999 Rodeo auction.
"I know that the money spent here goes for a great cause," Green is quoted as saying in the Rodeo's press release.
Then Starla chimes in about the 17-year-old Brownfield Future Farmer of America who spent four hours a day after school tending to Cowboy: "[He's] very deserving. We were prepared to do what it took."
Everything, that is, except actually pay what they bid. A Harris County judge ordered the Greens to pay the full amount, plus legal fees.
Rodeo Vice President Leroy Shafer says the Greens never paid the money -- the largest debt of any one entity in the show's history. He says it was the first time in the Rodeo's history that a grand champion was involved in a bad purchase, and the first bad purchase of two champions in one year. (The highest bidder's money goes to whoever shows the animal, any charities the bidder earmarked money for, and the Rodeo's scholarship fund. Shafer says the Rodeo was able to pay the $25,000 promised to Cowboy's exhibitor, as well as the approximately $1,000 Green had earmarked for the Houston Women's Shelter.)
Green now works for a multilevel-marketing travel package company called Your Travel Biz.
As for Darnell, All-Star described him as "a nationally known master trainer in sales and marketing" and a lifelong business owner. It also stated that Darnell "brings unblemished integrity, character and work ethic to the company."
Texas is increasingly becoming a nexus for scams," says Robert FitzPatrick, founder of the North Carolina-based Pyramid Scheme Alert.
He's part of a small network of consumer watchdogs who believe state and federal authorities too often given scammers a free ride. Because FitzPatrick is an expert witness in the Dallas BBB lawsuit, he said he could not comment directly on Advantage Conferences. But he could talk about multilevel marketing and pyramids in general. He could also talk about Texas's anti-pyramid scheme law, which he says was crafted by the MLM lobby.
"It's written in such a way that it would appear that as long as the money is laundered through a product of some kind or a service, it won't meet the definition of a pyramid scheme," he says. He adds, "Whether you legalize a pyramid scheme or not, it will produce exactly the same result."
And that result is proven mathematically, he says. In the case of an Aussie 2-Up, the model has a built-in brick wall. The people at the top of the pyramid will make the dough; the competition will increase exponentially; and the base -- the human population -- will remain the same.
"You can only go 32 levels and you've exceeded the population of the Earth," FitzPatrick says. "That's every man, woman, child, baby, inmate in an insane asylum...the real number is far less than that."
FitzPatrick is a man who understands the headache-inducing, logic-bitch-slapping nature of "business opportunity" programs, because whether it's Advantage or any other "income opportunity," you wind up having the same conversation with the dogged rep. FitzPatrick has both sides down pat:
"What is the real business that you're selling?"/"The business."/"What's the real product you're selling?"/"The business opportunity."/"Opportunity to do what?"/"To sell the business opportunity."
"So," he concludes, "the real product is: I'm making money; you can, too. Doing what? Making money telling people I'm making money."
But Tom Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General's office, says the Texas anti-pyramid statute is clear: if there's more emphasis and energy on recruiting people rather than selling a product or service, there's a problem.