Monday, December 05, 2005

Victoria Strauss--More Martha Ivery

News stories covering Martha Ivery's guilty plea:

AP article
Shorter AP article
The Buffalo News
Albany Times-Union
Mid-Hudson News (oddly, this report gets it wrong, stating that she pleaded not guilty)

My husband swears that he heard Martha mentioned on NPR's All Things Considered, but I can't find it on NPR's website.

Yippee!

This really is a great feeling, the culmination of such a long stretch of effort...and waiting. Lots of waiting.

We began collecting complaints about Martha in 1998--in fact, "Kelly O'Donnell" complaints were among the very first we received when Writer Beware first started up. The FBI initiated its criminal investigation in 2001. In mid-2002 Martha closed her various businesses (at least four "literary agencies" and two vanity publishers) and declared bankruptcy; in the fall of that same year, an FBI raid was conducted at her home and office.

After that...nothing. The case languished. Despite the large amount of evidence collected by Writer Beware and the FBI, despite the fact that Martha repeatedly perjured herself during her two bankruptcy hearings, attempts by the FBI agent responsible for the investigation to interest the US Attorney's office in following through with an indictment were met with stonewalling or indifference. It was intensely frustrating. But we never gave up. The FBI agent patiently continued to lobby the US Attorney's office, and Ann and I wrote letters to many different people, in hopes of finding the one who'd be willing to help. In the end our persistence paid off. The US Attorney's office finally took a real look at the file, and in a breathtakingly short amount of time (compared to what had gone before), an indictment was handed down.

We did get a little nervous when Martha's plea hearing was repeatedly pushed back--from August to September to November (twice) to today. We also expected that she'd cut some sort of deal, and plead guilty only to a few of the indictment counts--we really never expected her to plead guilty to all 15!

This entire time, Ann and I have continued to hear from new victims of Martha's many scams. The most recent contact was just last week.

We're really hoping that this will serve as a precedent we can use to convince other law enforcement agencies in other areas of the country to pursue scammers. There's one down south we've got our eye on...

6 comments:

SAND STORM said...

Congrats I know you've been on this a long time.

Frank Baron said...

Bravo!

SImonbun said...

Wow! Your perseverence really paid off, and I hope enough writers will hear about this and understand that there are a lot of sharks out there. Congratulations to you and to all the people who worked on this--I've gotta go get Jim Fisher's book now!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Praise the Lord! You ladies are awesome. You go girls....keep up the good work!

Anders said...

Yeah! Another scammer gone the way of Deering who will never again be able to con writers. Great job!

kathie said...

What fantastic work you're doing...where do you find the time to write?