On February 23, 1998, U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins in Los Angeles, California, sentenced Ronald Dante, a defendant in a case stemming from the Federal Trade Commission's "Project Scofflaw," to 67 months in jail and three years supervised release. In sentencing Dante, the court found that he had caused consumer losses in excess of $500,000. Dante was convicted by a jury on November 24, 1997, of 10 counts of criminal contempt. Dante, who failed to appear on the last day of his trial, is a fugitive and is being sought by the U.S. Marshals Service under a bench warrant.
"The sentence imposed on Dante sends a stern warning to white-collar recidivists," said Jodie Bernstein, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Consumers cannot be defrauded with impunity. The government will seek -- and the courts will impose -- stiff criminal penalties if FTC court orders intended to protect consumers are violated."
On April 14, 1997, the FTC, launched "Project Scofflaw," a comprehensive initiative to enforce federal district court orders obtained in FTC cases. On the same date, the FTC announced that Dante had been charged with criminal contempt. The Dante case was filed by the Department of Justice's Office of Consumer Litigation, with an FTC attorney appointed to assist in the prosecution.
The government's charges 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 attendees. In June 1991, the federal court issued a permanent injunction barring Dante from making certain misrepresentations and required 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 disseminated 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 the permanent makeup classes offered by the Permanetics Institute, a company he controlled and operated under an assumed name and, in addition, 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.
Copies of the press releases in the Ronald Dante, d/b/a/Perma-Derm Academy, cases are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and documents from these cases are available from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-3128; TDD 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.
(R. Dante -- Criminal Action ancillary to No. CV 90-945 ABC (GX)