Goldline International, the precious metal retailer that has capitalized on conservatives’ anxiety about the economy by forging synergistic relationships with right wing TV and radio hosts, is facing a new series of legal challenges after authorities filed criminal charges against the company and its executives yesterday. Several major conservative talkers — including two former GOP presidential candidates — have endorsed and recommended Goldine, which critics have long contended is little more than a scam.
After more than a year of investigating, the city attorney in Santa Monica, California, where the company is based, has filed 19 criminal charges of fraud and theft against the company, in addition to charges against top executives and salesmen, ABC News reports:
The complaint alleges that Goldline “runs a bait and switch operation in which customers, seeking to invest in gold bullion, are switched to highly overpriced coins by using false and misleading claims,” according to a statement released by the consumer affairs division of the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.
The company has been charged in the court filing with misdemeanors that include theft by false pretenses, false advertising, and conspiracy, the City Attorney’s office said. In addition to the charges against the company, the complaint accuses former CEO Mark Albarian, executives Robert Fazio and Luis Beeli, and salespeople Charles Boratgis and Stephanie Howard of defrauding customers. Current CEO Scott Carter is accused of making false or misleading statements.
Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and maximum fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 per offense.
While former Fox News conspiracy-theorist Glenn Beck is most closely associated with Goldline, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin, former GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, and several Fox News hosts, among others, have all endorsed the company.
Indeed, conservative talk radio is central to the company’s success, as Goldline employs a business model based not on mere advertising, but full integration with the content of conservative talk show hosts’ messages. The company’s website prominently features these endorsers, suggesting the talkers’ backing gives Goldline “credibility.” The company has said it will vigorously contest the charges.