ADVENTURE RANCH

ADVENTURE RANCH
ADVENTURE RANCH

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Conflicting Claims In Cherries Internet Cafe Collapse

There are many conflicting claims in a mini-flurry of press reports yesterday regarding the collapse of the Cherries Internet Cafe, and sadly the press reports aren't digging into those conflicts or into the simple fact that employees have not been paid for work done months ago. Meanwhile, CIC's owner/operator has darted away to start another business leaving those workers and other contractors empty handed.

It may just be me, but if my company collapsed, I think I would like to think I'd have the decency to be accountable for it, and not blame those who gave financial support to the business. Now it looks like a long round of court battles are ahead, which does not help out those who are owed for work long since completed and will instead cost them earnings. (A DISCLAIMER: I know several folks who worked with CIC in a wide range of capacities, but we have seldom talked about the problems. I am really perplexed by these press clippings and the conflicts they include.)

Also, while those folks and others are locked into legal battles and are advised by attorneys not to speak publicly about the issues involved, the owner of Cherries decides to head to the press and lay out some blame and dodge the problems of not paying employees or vendors.

The Metro Pulse had a report in which it is claimed Cherries For Life's Ingrid Gee has started a new business called Blue Dress TV, but in reports in the Knoxville News Sentinel she says she was hired by them to run the business. Which is it?

And the thought of starting up another biz while former employees go empty-handed ... well, that's just lousy treatment, in my opinion.

Also, the KNS report
originally stated that Ingrid started BlueDress and was updated to reflect that an "undisclosed management group" has hired her to run the company. But no such change has been noted with Metro Pulse.

More conflicts in that KNS report:

" ...
Gee said she agreed to walk away from the company with about $155,000 worth of debt."
---
"She said at least $70,000 is owed to creditors and that part of the agreement she signed required the management group to pay all creditors."

KNS reporter Carly Harrington, in a third report yesterday, presents more oddities from Gee. Emails Harrington received from Gee were offered to prove how other investors in the business failed to do their jobs, but they just make no sense. These aren't documents which detail the specifics of the business operation.

This email (which noted concerns on how accounts are or are not being handled) has the last few lines blocked out by a note from Gee. That line includes the telling question "Who is setting up the books?"

In this email (again, offered as proof of the 'business structure') Gee asks "Do we have any investors" and that funds are already depleted for the business (dated September 6th).

This email is a copy of a Code of Ethics for the best way to do business ... but again, no documents which detail the actual responsibilities of investors or Gee. Odd. What are these meant to actually prove? Why did the reports not dig into these issues?

Seems to me if I had investors or co-owners who failed to deliver on their responsibilities, then I would provide the press with more that some emails of me asking some folks for more money. Why not provide the documents which detail the structure or documents of refusals/failures to do said jobs? If I were offered what I considered a forced buyout, then I again would provide some documents to back up the claims.

So now the public is watching a "he said-she said" battle. And contractors and employees are forced into court to obtain earnings for work already supplied.

I hope the press digs deeper, and offer some hard facts on what has really been happening.

One reason I'm posting this today is to get your feedback -- what do you make of these reports? Do the claims make sense? Doesn't the press need to double-check claims made prior to printing/publishing stories?

One more item of note - a November 12th post from Harrington on the closing of Cherries from Gee:

"
Ingrid Gee, who founded the cafe that opened in September, said she decided to sell in order to "put it into the hands of somebody who could develop its full potential."

"I like to be in the development of new ideas and concepts. It was a pleasure to start and found the cafe. Now, I'm off to bigger and better things. It was nice to work with all the people who helped make it happen," Gee said."


Nice? Is being "nice" a substitute for paying employees? So many conflicting comments - which ones are true?

SEE ALSO: KnoxViews

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    what do you make of these reports? Do the claims make sense? Doesn't the press need to double-check claims made prior to printing/publishing stories?

    The reports say a lot about this Ingrid Gee's lack of ethics. The claims make no sense in light of the other things she already said. "Put it into the hands of someone who can develop it's full potential?" Then she blames that person for it's failure?

    I'm disappointed that Miss Harrington seems to add and modify stories with information that has not been thoroughly researched. Any layman can see the numbers don't add up. And what is with the "proof?" It would be funny if it weren't for the people that appear to have been scammed.

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  2. Just Sayin2:21 PM

    Doesn't the manner in which Ms. Gee is trying to paint Mr. Dickey with a big, black brush seem the least bit duplicitous to the press? When presenting her "documents" to Harrington, Ms. Gee claims that Joe Dickey claims he had "no role" in the company. As I and others noted in the comments section, Mr. Dickey made no such claim.

    Dickey said he was never an officer of the company but offered advice as a minority investor that Gee "could take if she wanted."

    "I was not in charge of anything. She made it very clear she made all the decisions," Dickey said. "From the beginning, she was having financial trouble. She was given several opportunities (to get funding) and basically refused."


    Ms. Gee is obviously misrepresenting Mr. Dickey. But why? Could it be to deflect negative attention away from herself?

    I think the answer to that question would be, "Yes."

    To wit: It seems to me a person would KNOW the difference between being HIRED by a company and STARTING her own business. As you noted, reports initially stated that she was starting a new business, bluedress.tv. Then, suddenly, Harrington issues a correction: that Ingrid isn't STARTING the business, but is merely talent for hire by a mysterious, "undisclosed management group." Metro Pulse doesn't issue any such correction, which leads me to the conclusion that Ms. Gee felt the need to change her story on the fly.

    Why?

    Because she was called to the carpet:

    Joe Dickey from Harrington's article: I'm upset that she has apparently walked away and left minority owners, banks, creditors and employees hanging in the lurch and she's starting a new venture using cafe resources.

    From the comments section of Harrington's article:
    Commenter "safetybob": Her idea of 'doing everything to make it right' is after she does everything to take care of herself and her new business.

    Commenter "drichards1953": Let's ask those that Ms. Gee and Cherries owe money to what they think of her "new" business. Obviously she still has assets and access to cash.

    Commenter "TheWatcher": if she has money to start a new biz, why not pay employees and contractors from her previous business first?

    Isn't it obvious that Ms. Gee changed her story only when she saw that the public was dismayed by her using what was left of cafe funds to run off and start up again under another moniker? Where is the investigative reporting here? It's not the first time she's done a 180 or told tall tales.

    Back in November she claimed the cafe was already sold. Obviously, that was not the case.

    In her own comment on Harrington's post, she claims that, "Joe Dickey owned 6% of the Cherries Internet Cafe in exchange for services 'in kind,' specifically these services "in kind" were as a business advisor (sic). This is clearly written in the Operating Agreement." Well, let's see that Operating Agreement. Why has that not been commented on?

    Joe, as you mentioned, the amounts owed keep changing, and the claims of responsibility for those debts keep shifting. She claims, "the agreement she signed required the management group to pay all creditors." What agreement? Let's see that agreement. Everything I've been reading suggests that any and all deals have been taken off the table.

    Where is the questioning of statements? How does the claim of an "undisclosed management group" get Ms. Gee off the hook? The "documents" Ms. Gee provided to Harrington prove absolutely nothing. That these documents were presented in such a manner as to suggest veracity was sloppy reporting. Obviously there is a lot of money owed. We know the employees have not been paid and contractors have issued a lien, but what about the other vendors? Who are they and what are they owed? I'd like to see a little more digging here and a little less taking what Gee says at face value.

    As you noted, those people who are deeply embroiled in pending lawsuits against Ms. Gee have been advised to stay away from the press, which gives Ms. Gee free reign to tar and feather whomever she wishes for her bad fortune. I'm surprised her legal counsel has not advised her to not make comments to the press--and indeed, an a attorney may have done just that. That does not mean she's following that advice. Doesn't it seem rather disingenuous of Ms. Gee to talk so freely to the press when so many others have been advised to hold their tongues?

    It seems to me that Ms. Gee is attempting to deflect blame for the failure of Cherries Internet Cafe onto Joe Dickey when, it seems more likely, the business' failure and debts rest squarely on her shoulders. It appears she wants to take on the role of "the victim" while walking away from myriad, unattended responsibilities. That the press is treating this as a "he said / she said" drama and not doing a little background work is rather disheartening.

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  3. Anonymous2:54 PM

    I noticed on the bluedress.tv blog there is a comment from a Mr. Rick Bowen, a link to the site http://youthdevelopmentfund.org and the comment, "Excellent site! We look forward to working with you."

    Could he be part of the "undisclosed management group?" If not, what business do they have with him? Any allegiance with Rick and his "charity" is very telling about Ingrid Gee's ethics. I'm sure many remember the stories on Mr. Bowen and the Youth Development fund from Bill O'Reilly, The KNS, WATE and others.

    From what's been written in the press lately about Cherries Internet Cafe, Blue Dress TV and Ms. Gee it seems she and Rick would be a match made in heaven.

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  4. Wow - this chic seems like a nutbag. I wish Joe was still writing for the papers. He dots his "i's" and crossed his "t's" before reporting anything.

    So, who is going to work for this loonball? I hope her potential employees are blog readers so they know that buy agreeing to work for her means working for free.

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  5. Anonymous8:29 AM

    I was offered a position as a department head. After reading the quick results of the company, I thank God I didn't make that move to CIC. I think people are forgetting the obvious- look at the foundation and head of company- are there any success stories to be layed solely at her feet??

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  6. Anonymous12:58 PM

    A&L CONSTURCTION COMPANY-MICHAEL ALLEN PRESIDENT-

    INGRID GEE BASICALLY CONNED OUR OUR COMPANY OUT OF APPROXIMATELY $50,000.00 PLUS.CHERRIES INTERNET CAFE OF KNOXVILLE LLC SIGNED A CONSTRUCTION AGREEMENT WITH OUR COMPANY.WE COMPLETED THE FIRST 1/2 OF THE PROJECT AND STOPPPED WORK DUE TO NON PAYMENT OF FUNDS. FOUR WEEKS LATER WE FINALLY WERE PAID.
    WE WERE ASKED TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT AND WERE ASSURED THE FUNDS WERE IN THE BANK FROM A KNOXVILLE DEVELOPMENT LOAN-THE MONIES WERE NOT IN THE BANK AS WE LATER DISCOVERED.WE RUSHED TO FINISH THIS JOB AND GET THE BUSINESS OPENED ONLY TO FIND OUT THERE WAS NO MONIES TO PAY US-MANY SUBCONTRACTOS AND THIER FAMILIES SUFFERED. MRS GEE SIGNED A PERSONAL PROMISSRY NOTE TO OUR COMPANY-OF COURSE THAT WAS WORTHLESS ALSO- INGRID GEE WAS WELL AWARE SHE HAD NO FUNDS OR FUNDING-OUR COMPANY LOST MORE MONEY THAN ANYONE ,ALMOST $55,000.00 WHILE GEE RAN OFF TO ANOTHER COMPANY IN HER LITTLE MERCEDES COUP.MRS GEE DECLARED HERSELF AND THE CORP BANKRUPT IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS(APRIL 2009) THE LADY IS A CON ARTIST,PURE AND SIMPLE
    SHE OPERATES NOW UNDER WWW.THEWEBEAT.COM AND BLUE DRESS MARKETING.

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