Editor’s Note: I apologize that my work is so dull, dry and boring. I have previously published warnings for readers to get a quad shot 20 oz mocha or an “Annihilator” from Dutch Brothers, since I’m boycotting Starbucks. In an effort to make things more interesting, I’ve borrowed from Dr. Seuss to explain what happened after I asked for the tax returns and 1023 application for exemption for Richard Schair’s nonprofit group, the Circle Fund. Please be warned that this article reports on the disturbing subjects of human trafficking and rape. I consider this an editorial as it provides opinion. And, again, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Honorable William O’Kelley, Senior Judge for the U.S. District Court, Gainesville Division, agreed with Plaintiffs A, B, C and D to grant Richard Schair’s motion to suspend their civil case against the former fishing tour operator. Four Brazilian women have alleged in federal court that Schair trafficked them into prostitution, while minors, for his North American fishing clients. This is the first case enforcing the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and it appears that Judge O’Kelley wrote his decision with extreme great care, fully aware that he is setting precedent by determining the legal conditions under which the civil case can be reinstated because of Schair’s criminal grand jury investigation, writing:
“A criminal action includes both ‘investigation and prosecution.’ Once initiated, a criminal action remains pending until final adjudication in the trial court. The statute gives no guidance, however, about how to determine when a criminal action is initiated or when a criminal action that does not lead to a prosecution is terminated…The statute also does not specify when a criminal action that does not lead to a prosecution ends…Thus, the statute leaves open the possibility that an investigation could remain pending indefinitely which would effectively foreclose any civil suit arising out of the same occurrence as the subject for investigation.”
Judge O’Kelley then called for updates every 90 days to keep track of Schair’s “pending criminal investigation and/or prosecution.”
Evidence for Schair’s motion to stay included a federal criminal grand jury subpoena, issued on June 25, 2009, to his company for various documents for purposes of the grand jury investigation and a grand jury target letter issued to his ex-wife Amelia Karr, stating:
“according to information that ICE and FBI supplied to (the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida), (Ms. Schair) was involved with a company and/or an individual who may have been engaged in child sex tourism in Brazil.”
Schair also provided a Brazilian request for prosecution from the Public Ministry to a Federal Judge in the Amazon district that “denounces” or accuses him and five Brazilian nationals of operating a house of prostitution. (1)
This case began on June 14, 2011 when, for the first time ever, four Brazilian women filed a complaint in U.S. federal court based on the TVPA, alleging they “were victims of sex trafficking…while under the age of eighteen…They were caused to engage in commercial acts by Defendants” Richard Wayne Schair and Wet-A-Line Tours LLC. The case was coordinated by Equality Now, a humanitarian group dedicated to protecting and promoting women’s rights around the world, with pro bono legal services led by attorney John Harbin of the Atlanta law firm of King and Spalding.
According to the U.S. State Department:
“It is a crime for a United States citizen or permanent resident to travel abroad for the purpose of having sex with a minor and it is a crime for a United States citizen or permanent resident to actually have sex with a minor while abroad… It is a criminal activity to knowingly arrange, induce, procure or facilitate for profit the travel of a person when you know that the person is traveling for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors.”
Though the case was stayed, Schair filed an answer to the complaint on August 12, 2011, sounding like Bart Simpson’s “I wasn’t there, I didn’t do anything, You can’t prove it” defense. He never denied any of the charges, claiming that the alleged victims aren’t entitled to damages because they “stem entirely from the acts and omissions of other persons and parties over whom Defendants exercised no control.” It has yet to be determined if “other persons” included the 19 members of the Shriners secret sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters, some pictured partying with underage Brazilian girls. It also has yet to be determined if these Jesters are the same customers being investigated by Brazilian authorities as national leaders call for tour operator reform in the Amazon.
Schair’s other customers include former Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry. In September, 2007, Henry and 23 friends, family and trial lawyers were clients of Wet-A-Line Tours in Brazil, two weeks after a Jester trip. According to this report, Governor Henry’s guests included his chief of staff, Gerald Adams, and an Oklahoma Highway Patrol security trooper, Patrick Mays. The report also lists two-time past president of the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association Terry West and continues:
“Also listed are Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission member and former Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association President Jimmy D. Loftis, and fellow attorneys Blake Virgin, John R. Hargrave, John W. Norman, John B. Norman, 2006 Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association president Brad West, Bart West (Terry West's sons), former Judicial Nominating Commission member William E. Woodson, oilman Paul Hale, Robert D. Bell, Robert L. Bell and Mike Oliver. Hale, Oliver, Loftis, Virgin, Woodson and the Bells also took the 2003 trip based on a report in The Oklahoman at the time. Also listed is Richard R. Dunning, a member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, appointed by Henry earlier this year.”
Now that the case is suspended, Schair claims the complaint should be dismissed because it violates his rights to:
- Procedural due process as provided by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
- Substantive due process as provided by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
- Equal protection under the law and are otherwise unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Protection from “excessive fines” as provided under the Eighth Amendment.
Schair also claims that multiple awards against him and Wet-A-Line Tours constitute double jeopardy and are in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Based on all this, he further claims that the womens' claims for punitive damages should be dismissed, that the venue is improper and that the claims are barred by applicable statute of limitations.
This is Schair’s fourth attempt to prove his innocence, or maybe fifth if we count his current efforts to avoid indictment by the Grand Jury in Miami. His three previous failures include:
- Unsuccessfully suing a competitor who claimed Schair provided prostitutes for his clients fishing in the Amazon.
- Unsuccessfully suing Newsvine.com after I reported he’d been indicted by the Brazilian Federal Police.
- Failing to convince a Brazilian Federal Judge to dismiss the charges and indictment against him.
Judge O’Kelley is the same judge who presided over the Schair v Newsvine case, filed by attorney Aaron C. Clark. The Judge granted Schair’s Petition for Removal Libel, Assault, Slander on July 24, 2009.
The Judge more recently agreed that Plaintiffs A, B, C and D could maintain their anonymity after they shared concerns for their safety, charging that Schair and his company “by and through their agents and employees, engaged in international commerce and sex trafficking of children by recruiting customers in the United States to engage in ‘sex tourism’ in Brazil.” Judge O’Kelley issued his order on July 15, 2011, writing that:
“Plaintiffs are four Brazilian women who claim that defendants enticed or coerced them to engage in commercial sex with American customers on tour boats operated by defendants. Plaintiffs also allege that they were coerced into performing sexual acts with defendant Richard Wayne Schair. The sexual acts occurred while the tour boats were located in the Amazon basin. Each plaintiff was a minor at the time of these sex acts; one was allegedly twelve years old. Plaintiffs claim that the disclosure of their identities will ‘subject them to embarrassment, humiliation and ridicule,’ particularly ‘given the prevalence of social media and internet communication world-wide.’ Additionally, plaintiffs allege that since defendants are still actively engaged in sex trafficking in this area, disclosure of their identities could expose plaintiffs to danger…Given the factual allegations in this case, the court finds that at the present time, plaintiffs may file their complaint under pseudonyms and may maintain their anonymity through the Rule 16 scheduling conference that will be held to address the parties’ Joint Preliminary Report and Discovery Plan. The prime fact that compels this decision is that plaintiffs were minors at the time of the alleged sexual coercion. Sexual coercion of a minor is information of the utmost intimacy that warrants special protection.”
Trying to defend himself, Schair continues throwing people under the bus. He threw his ex-wife Amelia Karr under the bus by submitting her Grand Jury target letter as evidence for his motion to stay. In his answer to the human trafficking complaint, his attorney, L. David Wolfe, wrote:
“Defendants deny the allegations contained in paragraph 8 of the Plaintiffs’ Complaint. Furthermore, the vessel AMAZON SANTANA was owned and operated by Lauro Rocha and Jean Phillip Perol as owners of Santana Turismo Ecologico Fishing Safaris, LTDA. Defendant Richard Schair held a security interest in the vessel from mid-2005 to late 2007 as collateral for a loan made to Santana Turismo Ecologico Fishing Safaris, LTDA, for the build-out of the vessel that would become the AMAZON SANTANA. Defendants played no role in the day-to-day operations of the vessel or tours. Finally, the acts alleged by Plaintiffs fail to meet the requirement of ‘coercion’ as set forth in 18 U.S. C. 1591(e)(2)(A-C), and therefore Plaintiffs have not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Here, he throws his Brazilian business partner Lauro Rocha under the bus along with the head of the official French tourism office and the Chairman of the European Travel Commission, Jean Philip Perol.
Chairman Perol told Elite Travelling magazine:
“My favorite region is the Amazon, and every year I invite friends from around the world to take a five-day cruise up the river on my boat. People from France, the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Brazil all mix together on board, up to 18 people. What happens is people discover themselves, and they all have a little something in common. I’ve done this for three years now, and it’s on board the 100-foot boat that I share with another friend.”
Current Brazilian court records show that Schair’s co-defendant and business partner Lauro Rocha, was served on September 9, 2011.
An online search for “Wet-A-Line” with the Georgia Secretary of State reveals that the corporation was “terminated” last July and that Richard Schair is the CEO of a nonprofit group. The “Wet-A-Line Tours LLC” Certificate of Voluntary Termination has the Secretary of State terminating the company on May 9, 2011, with Schair backdating his signature to July 1, 2010.
According to the Secretary of State, the articles of dissolution must state that there are no actions pending against the corporation in any court or that adequate provision has been made for the satisfaction of any judgment, order or decree that may be ordered against the corporation in any pending action.
Judge O’Kelley granted Schair’s motion to stay because he provided evidence of two criminal actions pending against his corporation in an effort to stay the civil action also pending against his corporation.
The webpage “Dissolving a Corporation” for the Georgia Secretary of State states:
“If articles do not comply with requirements of the Georgia Business Corporation Code they will be returned to the filer for correction. If corrected and returned, the date of dissolution will be the date the articles were initially received.”
Do these ongoing cases prevent Schair from terminating his company? Does this termination create a date from which a statute of limitations can start tolling, counting on the grand jury to drag on until the Plaintiffs’ time runs out? Was his signature backdated so a hypothetical two year statute of limitations would end on July 1, 2012? And does not disclosing the criminal actions against Wet-A-Line Tours mean that the Certificate of Termination filed with the Secretary of State is fraudulent?
The other filing was for “The Circle Fund,” a nonprofit group listing Richard Schair as CEO. Most philanthropists would proudly list their nonprofit groups on their professional websites and include their charitable associations in their online business listings.
Schair does not.
The website states:
“The Circle Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation whose mission is to ‘Support the Families that Support Our Freedom’ by providing scholarships for dependents and spouses of service-members that have been killed or severely disabled as a result of their military service. We believe it is our solemn duty as Americans to honor these great men and women of freedom by receiving their sacrifice with sincere hearts and bringing it ‘Full-Circle’ back to those who are left behind.”
The “About Us” section reads:
“The Circle Fund is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Foundation that was formed by a select group of business professionals and entrepreneurs who have combined their passion for ‘Supporting The Families that Support Our Freedom’ by proving scholarship grants to the families of our fallen heroes and wounded warriors. Our Leadership Team and Board of Directors consist of military veterans, real estate brokers, CPA's, attorneys, developers, non-profit leaders, and business owners. Due to the experience and expertise of our seasoned professionals, along with our ongoing fundraising efforts through corporate sponsors and individual partnerships, The Circle Fund is uniquely positioned to accept all types of Real Estate assets while providing a philanthropic avenue for receiving the maximum allowable tax benefits according to current Internal Revenue Service codes and regulations.”
Curious is the timing of the group’s formation, considering it’s placement in the following timeline:
April 29, 2009 the Brazilian Federal Police indicted Schair for rape, corruption of minors, operating a network of prostitution and Indigenous violations.
May 5, 2009 I report Schair’s indictment.
June 19, 2009 Schair asks a Brazilian Federal Judge to dismiss all charges against him by applying for habeas corpus.
June 23, 2009 Judge denies Schair’s application, citing his request has no merit.
June 25, 2009 U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami sends Schair and Wet-A-Line Tours a subpoena to testify before a Grand Jury on July 16, 2009.
June 26, 2009 Schair sues Newsvine.com in Hall County District Court, Georgia over my work.
July 6, 2009 Schair named CEO and Founding Board President of the Circle Fund.
July 28, 2009 Schair withdraws complaint after Newsvine.com changed venue to federal court.
August 3, 2009, Brazilian federal judge accepts case against Schair.
Applicant, Secretary/Treasurer and CFO Chris Brooks explained to the IRS in the “Finances” section of the 1023 application for exemption that:
“Startup expenses will be provided by substantial donations from the founding Board of Directors.”
In contrast, the website states:
“The Circle Fund relies solely on the support of others to maintain its ongoing mission of providing Educational Scholarships to the families of our fallen heroes.”
The Circle Fund’s business plan defines program qualifications as:
“Military service-Member must have served on active-duty in a theater of combat operations and either been killed (KIA) or wounded in action (WIA) as a result of their military service during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) from October 7, 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from March 20, 2003.”
The marketing plan described the primary market as:
“Families of military service-members killed or wounded while on active duty…Many children and spouses of those killed in action are now facing financial hardships and are unable to meet their educational goals due to the permanent loss of income to the family. Also, many of these injured heroes are facing significant barriers to employment by being unable to continue their military service and unable to find comparable civilian employment in their field of expertise as a result of their disability.”
When a request for the tax returns and 1023 Application for Exemption was emailed to Schair’s agent/attorney, Aaron C. Clark, he responded “Seriously?”
Then I heard from the CFO Chris Brooks and two other attorneys, which in my ten years of asking for nonprofit returns, was the strangest response ever.
Their responses went something like this, thanks to Dr. Seuss.
That Schair I am.
That Schair I am.
I do not know
That Schair I am.
He’s caught up
In cases of
Court house spam.
I do not know that
Schair I am.
The CFO wrote:
“I’ve got a wife.
I’ve got two kids.
I know nothing of
His nonprofit biz.”
One lawyer made
It crystal clear
“I’ve fought the feds
Year after year
To clear his name
In the blogosphere.
I know nothing
Of his nonprofit biz.
I’m just a white collar
“I’m just the agent,
I’m that guy
From your history.
Remember when we
Over your work?
I’m just that
Nitwit legal jerk.”
Because he loves
Making legal spam.
He’s at arm’s length,
That Schair I am.
The tax documents were lawfully provided within 30 days of my request by the nonprofit attorney who helped form the group. According to the group’s 1023 application for exemption, the Projected Statement of Revenues and Expenses anticipated income of $250,000 in 2009, increasing in 2010 to $500,000 and then $1 million in 2011.
On August 18, 2011 attorney Thomas R. Wrobel of NonprofitlegalCenter.com wrote :
“In response to your request for disclosure of our form 990s please be aware the organization has had minimal activity in the past few years. No 990EZ was filed in 2009 because the organization was below the $25,000 threshold. For 2010, please see attached the receipt for the filing of the form 990N, because the 2010 revenue was below the 990EZ threshold of $50,000. Additionally, attached is the 1023 form you requested.”
Why did Schair, secretary/treasurer Chris Brooks and agent/attorney Aaron C. Clark go to all the trouble and expense of writing up a business plan and applying to the IRS to create a nonprofit group that currently solicits the following donations? These include:
- CASH - One-Time Cash Gift, Monthly Sponsor, Estate Gift
- REAL-ESTATE - Residential Property, Multi-Family, Commercial Property, Raw Land, Industrial / Warehouse, Manufacturing Plants, Income Property
- OTHER NON-CASH - Stocks / Bonds, Tangible Personal Property, Automobiles, Coin / Stamp Collections
Why does this group appear to have not met their financial goals and performed as promised to the IRS? Has Schair provided any scholarships or grants to family members of dead service members and disabled veterans? Why was the Circle Fund invisible on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks?
Or was this nonprofit group created as a vehicle to potentially hide assets?
Next: “Zen and the Art of Throwing Others Under the Bus.”
(1) Schair’s motion to stay and answer to the Plaintiffs’ complaint are contrary to the findings of the Federal Prosecutor in the Amazon District of the Brazilian Public Ministry:
“The Facts – Richardo Wayne Schair and Jose Lauro Rocha Da Silva, as administrative partners of the Santana Turismo Ecologico company, Fishing Safaris LTDA, owner of the vessels Amazon Santana and Santana 1, in the years between 2005 and 2007, engaged in the illegal activities of sexual exploitation of minors, taking financial advantage of the prostitution of minors.
At the same time period, acting as managers of Richard Wayne Schair and Jose Lauro Rocha Da Silva, the nationals (Brazilian citizens) Juscelino De Souza Motta, Daniel Gerbaldo Lopes, Admilson Garcia Da Silva and Adilson Garcia Da Silva, who worked as interpreters for North-American tourists, executed the recruitment and facilitated the prostitution of minors, making it partially possible, through the economic exploitation of the prostitution of minors.
Thus, all of the denounced (accused) people were associated with this criminal group, which was established to economically explore the prostitution of underage Brazilians in the State of Amazonas, through actions that constitute the following crimes, according to the normative prescription of the time period when the facts occurred:
1) Sexual exploitation of minors
3) Facilitation of Prostitution
5) Domestic trafficking of people
6) Sexual Exploitation of minors.
The United States citizen Richard Wayne Schair, owner of the tourism agency Wet-A-Line Tours, located in the state of Georgia in the U.S.A. promoted (or facilitated) touristic trips of North Americans to Brazil more precisely to the State of Amazonas. Through his tourism agency, he under-contracted (or hired) in that Country, touristic trips for cruising and fishing in the Amazon River, and offered his clients the possibility of sexual encounters, for (financial) renumeration, with Brazilian girls, many of whom were underage.
The letter to the judge continues that the defendants acted under the orders of Schair and Rocha to recruit the girls to work as prostitutes for North Americans during the trip. “Photographic proof and recordings of police missions reveal how Brazilian girls were hired to participate in parties with foreign tourists.” (Editor’s Note: These pictures include members of the Royal Order of Jesters.) It also explains that evidence obtained after searching the boats “attest to the existence of numerous images of Brazilian women in sexual poses within the vessels and in the company of foreign tourists.” It continues that one woman “admitted that on the 2nd semester of 2006 while being 13 years old, that she was invited by Richard Wayne Schair along with her sister to cruise on the vessel, where she had carnal relations (sex) with Richard Wayne Schair deeming indubitable the practice of the crime of rape.” The request from Federal Public Ministry prosecutors asks the judge to process the accused ones to their final condemnation and requests that the witnesses and victims be summoned to trial.
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