On November 24, 1997, a jury in Los Angeles, California, convicted Ronald Dante, a defendant in one of two cases stemming from the Federal Trade Commission's "Project Scofflaw." Dante was convicted of 10 of the 11 counts of criminal contempt filed against him. Dante, who failed to appear on the last day of his trial, is a fugitive and is being sought under a bench warrant. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 23, 1998, and could face a prison sentence of 27 months or more for the contempt violations.
On April 14, 1997, the FTC, launched "Project Scofflaw," a comprehensive initiative to enforce federal district court orders that have been violated. On the same date, the FTC announced that Dante and Jeffrey Jordan had been charged with criminal contempt. Each of these separate actions resulted in convictions and, in each case, FTC attorneys were appointed as Special Assistant United States Attorneys to assist with the prosecution of the cases.
The government's action against Dante stemmed from a February 1990 case in which the FTC alleged that Dante, doing business as the Perma-Derm Academy and the American Dermalogy Association, misrepresented both the training he provided at his "permanent makeup" workshops and the certification he awarded to attendees. According to the complaint, Dante misrepresented that students enrolled in the workshops, upon completion of the course, would: (1) be competent in applying permanent makeup -- a form of tattooing such things as eyeliner and lipliner -- and receive valuable credentials; (2) be able to apply permanent makeup legally in the state in which they reside without state regulations or restrictions; and (3) earn at least or up to $500 an hour.
In June 1991, the federal court issued a permanent injunction barring Dante from making certain misrepresentations in connection with permanent makeup classes, or any training courses or credentials he offered, and requiring him to pay $143,750 to the FTC for consumer redress. The order also required Dante to make affirmative disclosures in all promotional material advertising permanent makeup classes that he disseminates to consumers in the future.
In charges filed in March 1997 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the government alleged that Dante violated the court order by failing to make the required disclosures in connection with permanent makeup classes offered by the Permanetics Institute, a company he primarily owned and operated under an assumed name. Dante further violated the order by making misrepresentations regarding potential earnings in connection with paralegal courses offered by the American Professional Institute, a subsidiary of Permanetics, the government alleged.
At Dante's November 1997 contempt trial, the government was represented by attorneys from the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation.
In its case against Jordan, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the government charged him with five counts of criminal contempt for violating a court-ordered asset freeze by either cashing certain checks or selling an item of personal property without accounting for these transactions. On September 4, 1997, Jordan pled guilty to two counts of criminal contempt and received a sentence of three months in jail. In addition, he was placed on probation for two years. An FTC attorney was appointed to assist the United States Attorney's Offices for the District of Columbia and Las Vegas, Nevada, in Jordan's contempt prosecution. The Federal Bureau of Investigation provided substantial assistance in the Jordan matter.
The original action in the Jordan case began in August 1995 when the FTC sued Meridian Capital Management, Inc.; Advisory Consultants, Inc.; Jeffrey A. Jordan; Richard Randall; and Angelo DeLon, alleging that they operated a "recovery room" business that falsely represented to victims of previous telemarketing scams that, for an up-front fee, they would recover most of the monies the victims lost. In September 1995, the court entered an order temporarily halting the allegedly deceptive business practices and froze the defendants' assets to preserve them for consumer redress or disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. In February 1997, the court entered a default judgment against Jeffrey Jordan.
Copies of the court documents and today's news release, as well as other news releases and legal documents filed in the Meridian Capital Management and Ronald Dante, d/b/a Perma-Derm Academy cases, are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(J. Jordan -- Criminal Action No. CR-S-96-113-LRL)
(R. Dante -- Criminal Action ancillary to No. CV 90-945 ABC(GX)