Tag Archives: Brewer and Pritchard

Cease and Desist: One Year On

Phil Groom writes:

J Mark 'Bully Boy' Brewer

J Mark ‘Bully Boy’ Brewer

Where were you on July 21st 2008?

Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a date permanently etched in my memory, it’s a date I certainly won’t forget in a hurry: it’s the date J Mark ‘Bully Boy’ Brewer (shown right, screen grab from Fox News), Principal of Texas law firm, attorneys and counselors, Brewer and Pritchard PC,  issued the first of his now notorious ‘Cease and Desist’ messages, threatening me, my friends and my colleagues with legal action if we didn’t stop reporting on his abuse of his staff and his mismanagement of the former SPCK bookshops.

Of course, those weren’t the terms he used: he was — and sadly, still seems to be — a man in denial, a man who wanted to hide the evidence of his misdemeanours and was preparing the way for his equally notorious bankruptcy scam on the Texas courts.

His threats if I failed to comply with his demands were all-embracing:

If you do not do so; i.e., remove your websites by noon GMT July 22, 2008, I will seek an injunction against you, your colleagues, associates and companies.  I also will take legal action against each of you for damages for libel.  In that event, I will also subpoena all records relating to the persons whom you have allowed to post defamatory material on your website in order to add them as defendants.

Mark Brewer

Unfortunately for Mr Brewer but fortunately for me, I was on holiday at the time, without internet access. The first I knew of Brewer breathing threats (if not quite murder) against me was when my friend Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace (CM) magazine, left a message on my mobile to tell me that he and Dave Walker had also been threatened. Since there was nothing I could do about it short of abandoning my holiday, which I wasn’t inclined to do, I phoned Clem back and left him a message to suggest that perhaps Mr Brewer needed a holiday too (OK, that’s the response I wish I’d made: honestly can’t remember what I really said).

Dave’s and CM‘s responses to Brewer’s threats are well documented: Dave took down his Save the SPCK posts, the offending report in CM was removed and my forthcoming column for CM — ironically enough, introducing this blog — was pulled at the last minute (please note that no criticism of either Clem or Dave is implied or intended in that observation). I, on the other hand, had the luxury of my holiday to reflect on what was going on, came back to see the groundswell of support for Dave, and decided — with the encouragement, help and support of friends too numerous to mention — to stand my ground. Two friends in particular stand out, however: David Keen and Matt Wardman — to them I am especially indebted.

I am glad that I did stand my ground and I take this opportunity to thank David, Matt and all my other blogging friends because now, one year later, we see the tables comprehensively turned on J Mark Brewer: the Charity Commission have taken over the St Stephen the Great Trust, have seen through the ‘ENC Shop Management Company’ scam and have seized control of the shops.

Wresting the shops from Brewer’s personal control, however, is but one part of the battle: former employees and many suppliers remain unpaid; and whilst the Charity Commission have seized control of the premises, photos taken in Winchester yesterday (watch this space) testify that they are not quite on top of the company correspondence.

For my own part, then, the fight goes on, for the same reasons I gave to the We Support Dave Walker facebook group back in August last year:

What’s this all about?
To me, the key things are:
• Justice for the (ex-)SPCK/SSG booksellers and unpaid suppliers
• The right to free speech
• Keeping information available

What do I hope to achieve?
• Payment of unpaid wages and invoices
• Honest reporting and open discussion
• Full reinstatement of Dave’s missing posts and comments

To conclude for today, however, a few links, including last year’s C&D discussions here, in date order as I eventually posted them:

The original C&D correspondence, in pdf:

  1. Demand to Cease and Desist 21st July 2008
  2. Second and Final Demand to Cease and Desist 22nd July 2008
  3. Please Remove this Web Page Immediately 22nd July 2008

An excerpt: the so-called ‘Legal Demand’ with the pages/links he wanted me to take down:

Legal Demand

I hereby demand that you cease and desist from doing any of these things any more. I specifically demand that you deactivate your webpages, websites and/or blogsites devoted to me, my brother, my family, SSG and/or SSGCT IMMEDIATELY. These include:

  1. https://spckssg.wordpress.com/tag/mark-brewer/
  2. www.unicorntreebooks.blogspot.com/
  3. http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk/engine.cfm?i=45&cmid=4091 *
  4. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/news.htm#ssg060208 (Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great)
  5. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/spckdonate.htm (Support SPCK’s Booksellers, and the Phil Groom administered “fund”)

* Although the CM article was taken offline, it couldn’t be taken out of print: reproduced here: Breaking the Silence

For comparison: Cease and Desist: 6 Months On

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J Mark Brewer’s Declared Debts

Phil Groom writes:

Courtesy of Ministry of Truth, this information entered the public domain not long after Brewer himself submitted it as part of last year’s failed bankruptcy filing. Matt Wardman posted some analysis of the situation in December 2008, but as far as I’m aware, the actual schedule of debts has not previously been transcribed to text. So here it is, creditors as named by Brewer in his submissions to the Texas Bankruptcy Court dated June 19, 2008, sorted by amount due.

Please note that this list is not complete: it only includes the creditors listed on the initial Statement of Financial Affairs (pdf, 1.2 MB) — the Amended Schedule E & F (pdf, 1.9 MB), Schedule F Continuation (pdf, 1.7 MB),  Schedule F Continuation 1 (pdf, 132 KB) and Schedule F Continuation 2 + Schedule G (pdf, 3.8 MB) run to 111 pages listing scores of other creditors with a total stated debt of $1,624,258.11.

  • Creditor: Amount Owed
  • Orthodox Christian Mission Fund: $494,097.56
  • HM Revenue & Customs – VAT: $62,824.74
  • HM Revenue & Customs – VAT: $57,615.60
  • Brewer & Pritchard, P.C.: $56,694.98
  • Employees of SSTG LLC c/o Moorepay: $52,886.06
  • Marston Book Services: $48,138.20
  • St Andrew’s Bookshop: $40,118.76
  • STL Wholesale: $38,211.13
  • Booksolve Computer: $36,955.57
  • Charles Farris Ltd: $31,048.73
  • Network Business Call: $28,294.07
  • Cocoabean (Oriel) : $4,770.75
  • BT-One Bill: $3,712.77
  • Subtotal for these Creditors: $955,360.92

The ‘Orthodox Christian Mission Fund’ — to whom the largest amount due was declared — is Brewer’s own organisation (described by him as ‘our “sister” charity’). Quite how Brewer could run up a debt just shy of half a million dollars to his own organisation — alongside a further $57k to his own company, Brewer & Pritchard, (4th largest debt) — remains something of a mystery.

Rumour has it that Booksolve have been paid. If any others beyond those identified earlier this month have been paid, they’re keeping quiet about it.

Pursuing the Brewers: Contact Info, Facts and Resources

Phil Groom writes:

An unpaid supplier has asked for contact information for the Brewers with a possible view to pursuing them through the courts: I’ve posted the info I have at the bottom of this post, which is all a matter of public record, but I’d like to run through a few points before we get to that.

Suppliers Discussion Group

At the end of last year we set up a private online Suppliers Discussion Group in the hope of facilitating the possibility of a joint action and/or coordinated response. That group still exists: if you’re a supplier and would like to join the group, please request an invitation. Whether or not it achieves anything is entirely your call, of course, but if you simply sit there on the sidelines moaning that nothing’s happening and no one’s doing anything, what do you expect? Ask not Who’s going to do something? but What can I do?

Today is Good Friday and yes, if you take a stand there’s always the risk that, like Jesus, you’ll end up crucified. That’s part of the deal when you follow Jesus and if you didn’t take that on board when you signed up, that’s either because some evangelist wasn’t telling you the truth or because you didn’t read the small print, even though it’s writ large on every page of the Gospels. Christianity isn’t a shortcut to health-and-wealth: charlatans like the Brewers who use Christianity as a way to pimp their own egos and empires are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sermon over: if you haven’t got it by now, you probably never will.

Taking a Stand

So what, in practice, has happened when people take a stand against the Brewers? They’ve been paid. Every case we have on record of either an individual or an organisation/company tackling the Brewers head-to-head has resulted in settlement; and when J Mark Brewer attempted to take himself to court in his bogus bankruptcy filing, the only thing he demonstrated was his own incompetence, to the point where the court threw him out as a laughing stock. The only way he was able to get out the hole he’d dug for himself was to hire another attorney to haul him out: the man is, quite frankly, an oaf. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, the facts are friendly. 

Cases Resolved So Far

1. Via this blog:

2. Listed by Brewer himself in the official SSG Statement of Financial Affairs (pdf) filed June 19, 2008, with the US Bankruptcy Court, Texas:

  • TBS, The Book Service: Stratford upon Avon County Court, refs PJS/091710 and  8SV00246, p.7.
  • Nick Johnson, refs 1806366/2007 and 1806489/2007, p.6.
  • Kirsty Smith, ref 7QT61858. Listed as ‘Pending’, p.6, but since resolved.*
  • Melanie Carroll, ref 2600803/2007, p.6.
  • Miss A C Speddings, ref 2801875/2007. Listed as ‘Pending’, p.6, but since resolved.*
  • Mike Pickering, ref 1502210/2007, p.6.

* Information supplied in private correspondence.

Most of these have been out of court settlements. Why? Because, quite simply, the Brewers know they don’t have a leg to stand on. The bankruptcy filing scam and the transfer of company assets to other companies were nothing more than a ruse set up in an attempt to evade SSG’s creditors: any review of the evidence will almost certainly result in them being laughed out of the court.

Certificate of Employers Liability Insurance

Certificate of Employers Liability Insurance

Furthermore, here in the UK, SSG has not gone into administration since the case was thrown out of the USA courts; and despite Philip W Brewer’s protestations that there was “no relationship going forward” between SSG and the Durham Cathedral Shop Management Co., we now have very clear evidence of precisely that continuing relationship in the form of the shop’s Certificate of Employers’ Liability Insurance issued in the name of St Stephen the Great Trust (Policy No. SB06000002/05ACI0125269) for the current period November 2008 – October 2009.

Whether a certificate issued in the name of one company to cover employees of what is ostensibly another company is valid is another matter, of course: I’ve asked Ecclesiastical for clarification. The point here, however, is that the Durham shop and, I’m told, the other shops are displaying this certificate: SSG accepts liability for the Durham shop employees. Any claims that the company has ceased trading and has no liability for other aspects of the shop’s business such as its debts are dubious at best if not complete codswallop. 

Thanks to Melanie Carroll for pointing out that the cost of starting a Small Claim through the Courts is relatively small — as little, in fact, as £25 for a claim up to £300 (Fees Leaflet [pdf]) if submitted via the Money Claim Online service, although this service requires an address in England or Wales where documents may be served. If you back up your claim with appropriate evidence — by visiting a shop and taking a photograph of an item you supplied but haven’t been paid for, for instance — you should be in with a good chance. See HMCS (Her Majesty’s Court Service) Making a Claim for practical guidance on submitting a claim or contact the HMCS Helpdesk.

Resources

Brewer Addresses

The Brewers’ addresses are a matter of public record:

1. From the SSG/SPCK Bankruptcy Filing documents:

J Mark & Philip W Brewer - addresses filed with the Texas Bankruptcy Courts

J Mark & Philip W Brewer - from the Texas Bankruptcy Court Documents

2. From Brewer & Pritchard PC, Contact Us page, which also includes a form for submitting messages directly online:

J Mark Brewer
Brewer & Pritchard, PC 
Three Riverway, 18th Floor
Houston, Texas 77056 
.
Phone: 713-209-2950
Fax: 713-659-5302
Email: brewer@bplaw.com
.

3. From Pima County Court Records, pdf | html (Links broken? Try a Google Search for P21-06-033)

Phil & Beth Brewer
2610 W Bountiful Lane
Tucson, AZ 85742
.

4. Phil Brewer’s Business Card, which he left lying around at asingleblog:

Brewer Enterprises

Brewer Enterprises

.

 

Disclaimer
For the avoidance of doubt: nothing included in this post (or any other post on this site) constitutes legal advice. Any action you may or may not take in response thereto and any consequences thereof are your own responsibility.

Letter from a Decorator

Phil Groom writes:

Received the message below over the weekend via a comment left on My Story. I have no way of verifying Nigel’s story, of course, but to my mind it has the ring of truth about it:

Dear Sir
My name is Mr Nigle Blakemore and i am writing because i did some decorating on the 27th of january 2009 to the 30th of january 2009 it has been a month now since i have not received my cheque.

the decorating i had done for , ENC SHOP MANAGMENT COMPANY SP1 2PE salisbury ST Johns Street.
was finished on the 30th of January, i gave the shop assisent whos name is Val an invoice on the 5th of February 2009 , she has told me that she sent the invoice off to you in Bradford because you were the main ofice but she would not give me your phone number so that i could get in touch with you on this matter. plaese could you help me sort this matter out .

many thanks
yours sincerely

Mr Nigel Blakemore

I’ve replied as below, but if anyone else has any advice or suggestions for Nigel, please leave them in the comments on this post — and if anyone from Salisbury reads this, please invite your local media to get in touch to help raise awareness of this latest Brewer outrage.

As I’ve suggested with Worcester, I think the most appropriate response is a complete boycott of the shop. If we can get the local media on the case and gain the support of Salisbury’s churches, hopefully the Brewers will get the message that their ways of doing business and dealing with people are not acceptable.

Thanks for copying us in on your message, Nigel — presumably you’ve sent this to the Bradford shop? If not, you’ll find their contact details on their website here, Third Space Books – Bradford, but it might be worth contacting J Mark Brewer directly via his office in Texas: Brewer & Pritchard – Contact Us.

Sadly, you are but one of many victims of J Mark and Philip W Brewer’s tendency not to pay those who work for them and I’m sorry to learn that you’ve had to find out about that the hard way.

I suspect that the only way anyone can be sure of being paid by these guys is to insist on full payment in advance; or in your case, having already done the work, to seek legal advice: your local Citizens Advice Bureau might be a good place to start. It might also be worth contacting your local paper: sometimes public embarrassment seems to work. Would the Salisbury Journal be interested in your story?

Cease and Desist: 6 Months On

Phil Groom writes:

Today, January 21st 2009, marks exactly 6 months to the day from when J Mark Brewer sent out his first Cease and Desist message in an attempt to silence the bloggers before his spurious bankruptcy filing was raked over in the Texas courts.

Fortunately for me but unfortunately for him, I was on holiday at the time, cruising the Thames on a narrowboat: the first I heard of it was when Clem Jackson, my Editor at Christian Marketplace, left a message on my mobile to tell me that the Bruisers, sorry, Brewers (never could spell), were getting uppity and threatening him, Dave Walker and myself with libel action unless we took down certain pages from our respective websites.

With no internet access there was nothing I could do anyway and I wasn’t inclined to cut my holiday short simply to respond to Mark Brewer’s attempts at intimidation — but I’ve told the story up to that point before so rather than retell it here, I thought I’d simply repost his first Cease and Desist letter here, in full, to allow us to compare what he wanted with what we’ve delivered:

From:   Brewer@bplaw.com
Subject: Demand to Cease and Desist
Date: 21 July 2008 18:04:17 BDT
To:   Phil Groom, Clem Jackson

Sirs:

I just visited your site dedicated to the destruction of my personal reputation and that of Saint Stephen the Great/Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust.  I am absolutely appalled and devastated by what you have written as well as by what you have encouraged and allowed to be posted on your various sites – especially after your last written communication to me, below which ended “Assuring you of my prayers.”

You have successfully blocked my efforts to get my and SSG’s side of the story out.  You have done this with your sites and Mr. Walker’s with whom you obviously collaborate.  No matter what I say or do not say, the three of you continue your relentless attacks on me and the charities.  You have now broadened your attacks to include my wife, my daughter and my religion.  You will obviously stop at nothing.  You must, therefore, be stopped.

When I do not respond to your vile and defamatory words, you pretend that you are such an important person that ‘how dare anyone not answer you.’  When I do respond, you hold me up to even greater ridicule and invite others to do the same.  I am dumfounded that any Christian ethos purportedly allows one to do that.

You now are doing your best to interfere with the Charitable Trust’s efforts to salvage what remains of the business of the bookshops, scornfully mocking these efforts at every turn.

This is not right and you have gone way too far.

Your statements are false and I categorically deny them – both for me, my family and SSG/SSGCT.  Nearly all of them are defamatory per se.

I therefore am going to say this as clearly as I can:  I am a private individual and I value my privacy.  I am not a public figure such that you have the right to drag my name and my family’s names through the mire.  I do not consent to you contacting me about your alleged enquiries.  I do not consent and object to you maintaining websites about me, SSG, SSGCT, ENC Management, my brother, my wife, or my daughter.  I do not consent to you posting blogs on the internet.  I do not consent to you defaming me to any other party or person by “sharing” your false allegations.

 Legal Demand
I hereby demand that you cease and desist from doing any of these things any more.  I specifically demand that you deactivate your webpages, websites and/or blogsites devoted to me, my brother, my family, SSG and/or SSGCT IMMEDIATELY.  These include:

  1. https://spckssg.wordpress.com/tag/mark-brewer/
  2. www.unicorntreebooks.blogspot.com/
  3. http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk/engine.cfm?i=45&cmid=4091
  4. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/news.htm#ssg060208 (Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great)
  5. http://www.christianbookshops.org.uk/spckdonate.htm (Support SPCK’s Booksellers, and the Phil Groom administered “fund”)

If you do not do so; i.e., remove your websites by noon GMT July 22, 2008, I will seek an injunction against you, your colleagues, associates and companies.  I also will take legal action against each of you for damages for libel.  In that event, I will also subpoena all records relating to the persons whom you have allowed to post defamatory material on your website in order to add them as defendants.

Mark Brewer

You’ll find my original responses to Mark’s allegations and demands in the following series of posts:

It’s interesting looking back: up to this point, I hadn’t been collaborating with anyone. But I am now — not with Dave Walker, sadly, but with dozens of other bloggers; and whilst I was reporting relatively light-heartedly before, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve become relentless since: both the very opposite to what Mark wanted.

As for Mark’s wife and daughter, up to this point I hadn’t even been aware of their involvement; but I am now — and I can find no words adequate to describe my feelings about the kind of man who drags his own wife and daughter into the sort of double-dealings and dishonesty we’ve now witnessed.

Meanwhile, of course:

  1. We have more pages than ever tagged “Mark Brewer”;
  2. The Unicorn Tree Books Blog is still going strong;
  3. Whilst the specific Christian Marketplace report Mark took exception to has gone, there are plenty of others still there;
  4. My report Betrayed by the Brewers: Lies, Damned Lies and St Stephen the Great is still there — with a follow up;
  5. And the Support SPCK’s Booksellers page and fund remain open…

All in all, it strikes me as a fairly spectacular own goal for Mr Brewer. So I’ll say it again: if you’re reading this, Mark, and you’d like me to Cease and Desist, there are three initial steps you need to take:

  1. Pay your former employees
  2. Pay your suppliers
  3. Withdraw your threats of legal action

But now there are some further steps:

4. Give your ill-begotten gains from the sale of the Exeter shop to SPCK;
5. Cease and Desist from your plundering of the former SPCK bookshops;
6. Give (as in freely, without expecting any sort of remuneration) the shops to people who, unlike yourself, can be trusted to run them with honesty and integrity according to a Christian ethos.

Six steps for six months: seems reasonable to me; and then there’s the small matter of making a donation to the Save the SPCK Booksellers fund yourself, Mark, by way of reparation for demanding its removal… 

Peek-a-Boo: Where are you? Playing Hide and Seek with the Charity Commission

Phil Groom writes:

As the Charity Commission say, it may simply be an oversight. J Mark and Philip W Brewer are not usually backward about coming forward. But in the meantime it seems that the Charity Commission investigation into SSG may have run into a wee problem:

Chester shop is also still using bags with the SPCK name and charity number on.

I have contacted the charity commission to complain about this and they told me that at present they have no contact address for Saint Stephen the Great as any letters are being returned to them as not known at the address.

When I said surely no charity can operate without a contact address they said it was probaly just an oversight that no one had thought to give them a new address.

yorkshire pride, January 6, 2009, 8.01pm

The good news is that there are other options; as I said in response to yorkshire pride:

It should be possible to contact J Mark Brewer here:

Brewer & Pritchard PC: Contact. Assuming he’s still with the company, of course. But if not, as a wannabe US Congressman, his campaign address is also a matter of public record: Campaign Money: John Mark Brewer.

(Don’t get too excited about the outstanding debt of $559,846 from his 2000 campaign; it was self-loaned: “Brewer ranked fifth among U.S. House candidates for self-loans during the first half of the year” – Texas Weekly: ‘Tis the Season to Spend Money.)

Mark, old chap, if you or any of your colleagues should happen to be reading this, please do get in touch with the Charity Commission, there’s a good fellow. Thank you.