OKLAHOMA CITY – Angie Cox thought she found like-minded people with an Oklahoma publishing company, forking over thousands of dollars to get her book published. But in the end, she says she’s made enough to cover the cost of buying just one of her own books as the company's leaders face criminal extortion and fraud charges.
“Probably over $15,000,” said Cox in a Skype interview from her home in central Illinois.
“You’ve given them $15,000; how much money have you made?” I asked her.
Cox, a 42-year-old social worker from Champaign County, Ill., says she first signed on with the now-defunct Mustang, Okla.-based Tate Publishing in 2012. She did end up getting one book published, called “Surviving the Devil,” an account of her own experiences of physical, emotional and sexual abuse growing up as a foster child in England.
Richard and Ryan Tate, the father and son who owned Tate Publishing, were arrested and charged in Canadian County Thursday with felony extortion, embezzlement and racketeering.
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office says more than 700 authors and musicians have lodged complaints with the Consumer Protection Unit since the company ceased operations this past January.
Investigators say the Tates defrauded clients by depositing money from the sale of books or music into business checking accounts, which were then transferred to personal checking accounts.
Billing itself as a company that based its philosophy on that of its founders, listing Psalm 68:11 on the copyright page of books, Cox says she entrusted her work with them.
“They tore me and they call themselves Christians,” Cox said through tears. “When you don’t have a lot of faith in mankind anymore, you think that you can trust a Christian. What the hell is the devil then?”
But Christian-like it seems the company was not. Attorney General Mike Hunter says the Tates did business to defraud people across the country.
Arrested Thursday, a Canadian County judge set bond at $100,000 and ordered their passports surrendered. The two are currently out on bond; if convicted they face both fines and prison time.
“Do you have anything to say to the Tates?” I asked Cox.
“I’m sorry that they could do this to so many people and use God’s name,” she said. “That’s what really – I’m, as a person that grew up only hoping there was God, not actually knowing and has hung on to that and I never had any love as a kid, apart from hoping that God and Jesus was real, and then use God’s name, I take that personally.”
“I forgive them.”