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At some point the police need to become involved.
Once again, I must stir the pot. Just what are the police going to do? Based on what crime? This thread has certainly shown a crass business practice that has left a few customers frustrated and financially injured. I loathe these stories and the folks who prey on innocent customers, as is described here. My sympathies are with you.

But even if one could point to a specific crime (actual statutes, please) which jurisdiction takes it? Local police in this idiot's town, the county sheriff, the FBI for crossing state lines in interstate commerce?

Can you imagine the costs of putting together a case like this, sending investigators out of state to conduct interviews and gather evidence, then bringing in the witnesses for the endless court hearings and trials and appeals? Only to end up with a suspended sentence in either the local jail or state prison (or even federal prison) where we all know that petty crooks are likely NOT to go.

I seriously doubt if a local agency would take a case like this because of the contractual issues involved. Even then, I doubt if a local prosecutor would file such a case because of the civil nature of the actions, and the costs to the prosecuting jurisdiction. Hardened crooks don't go to prison in cases of this value unless they have two priors. While the cost of a saxophone or two seems heavy to the "victims", the values involved here are petty when compared to losses and injuries caused by real crooks.

This strikes me more as a buyer-beware situation than criminal conduct. DAVE
 

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Walter: I agree that if a direct confrontation is in the making involving any of the folks here who are upset about this jerk's actions, that a police presence during the confrontation may be a good idea. We used to call it "keeping the peace" but would caution the responding officers not to get involved other than to ensure that no one becomes violent. DAVE
 

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I think it is a bad analogy. The horns weren't just loaned, there was an agreement (contract) to work on them (unlike your car analogy). Getting around what skills were used to do the contracted work is the problem here, as I see it. Oh, it probably could be proven that the work was sub-standard, even deceitful, but it would require a parade of "expert" witnesses years down the road. Us viewing photos here on SOTW is not the level of proof required in court.

But that's not all . . . bringing a civil suit against someone in the U.S. by someone living in Germany is not all that easy. It would most likely involve lots of upfront money to even start the process and then endless trips across the ocean to make appearances only to have them continued on some hoked-up excuse by the defense. Anyone who has ever been in the system knows those games. While the excuses for continuance after continuance may be legit, they really serve to discourage witnesses - eventually the plaintiff and the witnesses just can't stand the freight and quit making appearances. At that point the defense declares READY and the case will be dismissed when no one from the plaintiff's side is available. I've seen these tactics hundreds of times in criminal court.

This too applies to out-of-state law suits - even across-state suits. Lawyers don't come cheap and endless days off of work for court, hearings, depositions, etc. can hurt everyone. True, if there was someone local to this fellow, it is possible, but one plaintiff? I am not a lawyer so won't get into class-action suits but I doubt if this fellow (Burton) has enough money to even pay the lawyer's bills. That is one definition of being lawyer-proof. DAVE
 

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CoolJazzz: At least you cited a section - a law that could be potentially used to prosecute Burton. So many just don't like what happened and claim a "crime" was committed. We've been through this before on SOTW.

Given the leeway held by federal prosecutors over what cases they choose to bring and which ones they don't want to bother with; AND the low level of loss here (like I wrote before, it is a major loss to the customers but in the big scheme of federal crimes, this is peanuts), even if a new prosecutor wanted to charge this case, I doubt if U.S. DOJ would approve it. And, when some contractual failure occurs (as it appears to have failed in this matter), that will almost always cause a prosecutor to walk away from it.

But even before the case reaches a prosecutor, there will be a problem of interesting some federal agency into even opening a case because crimes presented to federal prosecutors almost always come from a federal law enforcement agency. Even local police and sheriff's deputies have to garner the FBI's or ICE's (or whatever they call themselves these days) attention to bring a case involving federal crimes.

How about postal inspectors, you ask? Maybe; but I suspect the statute you linked was intended for out and out fraud cases, not matters where someone wasn't satisfied with the level of service they received after entering into a contract. We all may be incensed by Burton's conduct but a prosecutor must look at a potential case from all angles and anticipate possible defenses. The civil nature of this incident would be tough to overcome.

You should have seen the hoops we had to go through to bring a video-piracy case in federal criminal court, even when the statutory financial limits of the felony copyright laws were exceeded. It was a "sales job", not a matter of merely interpreting the law.

That is why we (the Motion Picture Association of America from which I am retired) often took copyright cases to local jurisdictions and charged INSTEAD a case of false labeling of pirated cassettes and DVDs (which weren't copyright violations, even though copyrights were infringed). Or we went the civil route and filed ex parte actions in federal civil court. That allowed us to conduct civil searches with law enforcement enforcing a court order and then the pirate would have to settle with our lawyers after having some (or in some cases, all) of his property seized.

Sorry to keep going on these issues but it appears many don't fully understand the processes and what is required to be successful. "Involve the police" and "sue Burton" are easily said, but often not practical. DAVE
 

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Henry: Please excuse my use of the word contract, as when two people agree to do something of a business nature. You are right, probably not a REAL contract but I'll leave it to the lawyers to argue that. DAVE
 
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