Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware® is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

November 29, 2006

Victoria Strauss -- Martha Ivery Sentenced

This afternoon in Syracuse, New York, after several delays, Martha Ivery--vanity publisher, fee-charging literary agent, and woman of many aliases--was sentenced to 65 months in Federal prison, plus 3 years' probation. In December 2005, she had pleaded guilty to all counts of a 17-count indictment: 15 counts of mail fraud and acts against the United States as a principal in a conspiracy, one count of improper use of an electronic access device (legalese for "credit-card fraud not involving the mails"), and one count of false sworn testimony in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Martha's lawyer had argued for probation rather than jail time, pleading serious mental illness, but the prosecution's psychiatrist, while acknowledging that Martha is one majorly fucked-up lady, did not agree that this prevented her from distinguishing right from wrong. The judge, fortunately, saw it the prosecution's way.

Martha is required to pay restitution to her victims (or, if they die, their heirs), starting immediately, at the rate of 10% of everything she earns or $100 per month, whichever is greater. Since the total restitution amount is $728,248.10 (representing her "take" from nearly 300 victims), this is really more symbolic than anything else. She must also pay court costs of $1,700, and will be required to get mental health and sustance abuse counseling. If she's even one day late for her report-to-jail date of January 9, 2007, the three years of probation will be added to her prison time.

This closes a chapter not just for Martha's victims, but for Writer Beware. We've been tracking Martha since 1998, and were instrumental in providing evidence for the FBI investigation that resulted in her indictment. We're hoping her case will serve as a precedent for the prosecution of other literary scammers in other states (I'm sure y'all can guess who's #1 on our list).

There's more: Martha, who apparently has turned to religion, made a pre-sentencing statement, and the judge informed her that he was tired of her shenanigans. Ann was there (having endured the Flight From Hell to make it up to Syracuse), and will be filling in the details when she gets back home.


Alan Yee said...

I'll just be the first one to say, YES!!! We finally got her.

65 months = 5 years and 5 months, plus 3 years probation and forced to pay restitution.

Not too shabby. Good work Ann, Vic, et. al. for all your hard work to bring scammers to justice, helping new writers, and for just being you.

Write on, you two. Write on!

Anonymous said...

And may I be the first to chime in?

That is indeed good news. And hearty congratulations to you guys for keeping up the good fight!

Dave Kuzminski said...

What a delightful early Christmas present for all writers!

Writer Beware, you two are fantastic. Way to go!

Anonymous said...

:sound of chanting:


And congratulations!!!

roach said...

1) A hearty congratulations to both you and Ann! I'm sure this news will be welcome to all of Martha Ivery's victims.

2) *whispers in awe* Victoria wrote the f-word! (Sorry, something about that just gives me the giggles.)

CEP said...

Just as a side note:

Martha's delaying tactics increased her sentence. Really. Until a couple of years ago, the statutory maximum sentence for the varieties of fraud of which she was convicted was five years. Yes, the judge could have tried stacking the sentence for perjury consecutively with the sentence for the fraud counts, but he probably would have been reversed.

The new maximum sentence for fraud-realted sentences is twenty years, not five. Snicker. Without actually doing anything different, she added five months at Club Fed.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that's cheered me up no end. :-) Thank you, both of you, for all your work over the years.

And thank you, Jaws, for that extra bit of cheer on the sentencing. Bwahaha!

Anonymous said...

Oh, well done!

Congratulations to you and to all who worked on the case. It must be a huge relief to finally have succeeded, and to have it over.

Many many thanks to you. The writing world is a better, safer place because of what you do, and it's much appreciated.

Bernita said...

At last.

Jim C. Hines said...

Congratulations on the win! And thanks so much for all of your hard work.

I hope the other scammers out there are paying very close attention :-)

Anonymous said...

Bravo to all who worked so hard to make this a reality.

Big thumbs up to Ann and Victoria.

Also a shout out to the judge in this case who cut through the extensive BS that the defense was toss out to see what might stick. I hope we see more judges like this one on the bench.

The money might be symbolic considering what she owe but one has to think that every penny is going to be painful for her to part with.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the "I found religion, please have mercy on me" schtick is so old. Especially when there's no "I'm so sorry" to go along with it. Not that I'd believe the woman for a minute even if she did say it. Thank God the judge didn't fall for it.

JRVogt said...

Many congratulations. I greatly admire the work that you do to protect the writing community. It's incredible.

Nancy Beck said...


Thanks to you, Victoria, and to Ann, and to whomever else was involved in this.


TariAkpodiete said...

Woah! That's some seriously stiff time. And the restitution order should put a serious crimp into her after-jail lifestyle. Couldn't happen to a sweeter woman. So one scammer down, how many more to go?

Tari Akpodiete

Jane said...

High fives for the Big Dive, and your major victory.

Sometimes. . .sometimes the Good guys DO win and not just in fiction.


Jill Elaine Hughes said...


Now on to Bouncin' Bobby and Desert Rose, who are hopefully a-shakin' in their boots.

Anonymous said...

What's particularly exciting about this is that big word: precedent. Makes me hopeful that this might get easier!

Thanks to Ann, Victoria, Dave, Jenna, AW, Miss S, and WB! I'm sure there are many, many more.

Deb said...

That's good news indeed

Anonymous said...

The woman is a sociopath, pure and simple, and the judge saw right through her. Congratulations to all on a job well done!

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Southern Writer said...

Yesssssss! Congratulations! She got what she deserved. I hope the other scammers take heed and quit their foolishness before they end up in jail with her. Writer Beware rocks.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Paul Silver, for taking this case seriously, as well as to the scambusters whose names are more familiar to us.


Kim Rossi Stagliano said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ann and Victoria, for the awesome service you provide - free of charge - to us writers.

And congratulations on this victory.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Praise the Lord...God is good. Her conversion may save her soul, but it won't save her from prison...Wahoo!

me said...

Good! I hope she can make a lot of money in jail while paying all of this back to these authors. They deserve a lot more.

Anonymous said...

This is excellent news! Congratulations!

Victoria Strauss said...

roach said:

2) *whispers in awe* Victoria wrote the f-word! (Sorry, something about that just gives me the giggles.)

I'm not quite sure why, but there's something about me, both online and off, that makes people assume that I'm terribly genteel, not at all the sort of person to toss the f-word about with abandon. People who know me well, however, know that I have an extremely foul mouth.

True story. Years ago, a friend came to visit and brought a friend of his, whom my husband and I had never met before. In the course of conversation, I referred to someone we knew in a rural area as "living out in East Buttfuck." Later, our friend told me that his friend pulled him aside, wanting to know if there really was such a place as East Buttfuck, because he found it so hard to imagine me swearing on purpose.


Jo Bourne said...

Congratulations. And thank you.


Anonymous said...

Good show, thank you!

WB is why I keep up my SFWA membership.

Anonymous said...

Yay! This made Publisher's Lunch, too.

But mostly, Victoria, I'm really glad you swear. It warms my heart.

Jenna said...

I'm so excited!!!

Way to go, Ann, Victoria, and Jaws. What a great day for the good guys. :)

Georgiana said...

Congratulations, you all worked long and hard for this. I'm so proud of you.

Anonymous said...

just wanted to let you all know that she is OUT of jail and now has a facebook profile.

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