A man who claimed to be organizing a benefit concert featuring Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen has pleaded guilty of defrauding 30 investors out of a half-million dollars, and has been sentenced to just under four years in prison.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer , Vancouver musician Kasey Anderson pretended to be organizing a concert and album to benefit the West Memphis Three, a trio of men who were convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys.
Their convictions were the subject of outrage, and prompted public support for the men from many -- including Eddie Vedder -- who believed they had been wrongly convicted. Prosecutors in the Kasey Anderson case alleged that Anderson capitalized on that sentiment when approaching potential investors posing as various music industry bigwigs, promising to stage a concert and album to benefit the three men, who were freed after more than 18 years in prison when newly uncovered DNA evidence did not match prosecutors' allegations.
When trying to score additional funds from prospective investors, Anderson made a variety of bogus assertions -- including that he had firm commitments from Pearl Jam, Johnny Depp and Tom Petty ; that Springsteen was working on a collaboration with Lady Gaga for the benefit album; and that Springsteen had also collaborated with Arcade Fire on two additional album tracks.
In all, prosecutors say Anderson bilked investors out of more than $525,000. In a letter to the court following his conviction, Anderson apologized and called himself "a deeply flawed and mentally ill person who made some terrible choices, causing so much emotional and financial damage to others...but I believe I have much to offer my community." Anderson also said he "want[ed] so badly to make it right."
Of the more than $525,000, only $160,000 has been recovered. The Post-Intelligencer notes that none of Anderson's investors have been repaid in full, and most have received nothing back at all.
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