OKLAHOMA CITY – It has been more than a year since the founder of a local publishing company was charged with embezzlement and extortion, and authors may finally be able to get some of their work back.
In May of 2017, Ryan Tate and Richard Tate were charged in connection to fraudulent business practices the pair allegedly engaged in while operating Tate Publishing and Tate Music Group.
They were charged with four felony counts of embezzlement, one felony count of attempted extortion by threat, two felony counts of extortion by threat, one felony count of racketeering and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement.
Officials with the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office say they have received thousands of complaints from authors and musicians regarding the companies.
Complaints from customers range from failure to deliver products and services that had been previously paid for; failure to pay royalty earnings, per contractual agreement; and refusal to return files unless the customer agreed to pay a $50 processing fee.
“The means by which Ryan and Richard Tate conducted business to defraud individuals from across the country is unconscionable and a blatant disregard for those who entrusted them to produce their work,” Attorney General Mike Hunter said.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced that some of the authors and musicians who were victimized by the owners of Tate Publishing can safely retrieve their work.
In a letter delivered to more than 1,100 Tate victims, authorities explained how they can access a website to download their work.
“Even though the case is ongoing, my team and I hope releasing the artists’ work will give them some peace of mind and a clear indication that we are continuing to do all we can to make them whole again,” Attorney General Hunter said. “I appreciate their patience and hope they are able to begin to move on, past this unfortunate chapter in their careers.
“I commend the efforts of the agents and attorneys in the Consumer Protection Unit, who undertook this monumental task. The time and attention this took cannot be overlooked or understated. Thanks also to the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services for sharing its technology resources, which enabled us to begin this process.”
Officials say 1,560 book and music files have been received from the attorneys representing the Tates.
However, the attorney general's office says some of the files received were incomplete, corrupt and possibly irretrievable. The Tates claim they cannot return all of their clients' work because some files were stored in the Philippines and have not been recovered.
Since June of 2017, the attorney general's office has received close to 2,200 complaints from around the world, and continue to receive more on nearly a daily basis.
When Tate Publishing closed its doors in 2017, KFOR spoke with Richard Tate.
“This is our life’s work. We love our authors. We are not going to abandon them. We’re doing everything we can do,” Richard Tate said.
Richard Tate told KFOR his company's problems were due to the economy.