From Rocky Mountain News, 1/22/04: Embattled marketer Richter on probation

Embattled marketer Richter on probation

Felony case involving stolen property not related to spam suit

By Roger Fillion, Rocky Mountain News
fillionr@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2467

January 22, 2004

E-mail marketing mogul Scott Richter – facing a lawsuit from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer over spam allegations – has been on probation the past year after pleading guilty to a criminal case involving stolen property in Adams County.

Richter, president of Westminster-based OptInRealBig.com, reached an unpublicized plea bargain with prosecutors last January to settle a felony count that he plotted to buy and sell more than $15,000 worth of stolen property, according to court documents.

The goods ranged from cigarettes to a Bobcat loader.

The case, for which Richter was ordered to serve a two-year probation, resulted from a Denver Police Department undercover sting operation.

The case is unrelated to the civil lawsuit filed last month in New York by Spitzer, who charged that Richter belonged to a spam ring that blasted out “deceptive and illegal” e-mails. Microsoft Corp. filed a tandem suit in Washington state. Richter has vehemently denied the allegations and said he is the victim of a smear campaign.

Under the Adams County plea agreement, Richter, 32, was ordered to pay nearly $38,000 in restitution to cover costs linked to the case, including reimbursement for a stolen Bobcat loader that was never recovered.

He also was ordered to serve 40 hours of community service. Richter said Wednesday his two-year probation was ended after a year because “I didn’t do anything wrong” during the initial year.

Court documents, however, don’t confirm the probation has been ended.

In a phone interview, Richter also said the case amounted to “a borderline entrapment case.”

“It was easier to be done with,” he added. “We probably should have fought it. I had too much stuff going on in my life.”

Richter noted the case was unrelated to e-mail marketing and said the matter isn’t affecting him.

“I’m not a criminal,” he said. “It was a mistake from many years ago.”

Before the case, Richter didn’t have a criminal record.

The initial indictment resulted from a Denver Police Department sting operation that dates to December 1999 and ran until July 2001.

Police were investigating a suspected fencing operation involving the purchase and sale of stolen goods by Richter and associates, according to the charges.

The Colorado attorney general’s office brought the case because it involved three judicial districts: Adams County, Jefferson County and the city and county of Denver.

In his plea agreement, Richter pleaded guilty to conspiring to deal in stolen goods, according to court documents.

Those goods included the Bobcat, a generator, laptop computers, cigarettes and tools.