Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potentially, uncovering a fraud of epic proportions)

Posted: December 28, 2012 by SJD in Coopergate, Prenda
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It is getting more and more interesting. Readers of this blog (as well as Arstechnica’s and TechDirt’s communities) are well aware of the “Coopergate” — the ongoing controversy regarding a Minnesota resident, former John Steele’s caretaker Alan Cooper, who, through his counsel, articulated a grave concern that his name might be used as a CEO of two Prenda’s offshore shell corporations, Ingenuity 13 and AF Holdings, without his consent and even knowledge. These two Prenda’s “clients” filed more than 250 shakedown lawsuits across the US. I used quotation marks because those “clients” are widely believed to be fictional, Righthaven-style entities, mere façades that John Steele and Paul Hansmeier created for their firm — created with a sole goal of filing lawsuits against alleged file-sharers and then wrestling them into settling, using deception and intensive harassment¹.

Two California attorneys, Nick Ranallo and Morgan Pietz, have been drawing various judges’ attention to this troubling development. Morgan Pietz, in his motion to relate similar cases, asked Prenda’s California counsel, Brett Gibbs, very straight, no-nonsense questions aimed at resolving this controversy:

  1. Is there another Alan Cooper, other than the gentleman in Minnesota who was John Steele’s former caretaker, who is or was the principal of AF Holdings, LLC and/or Ingenuity 13, LLC?;
  2. Will plaintiff’s counsel Brett Gibbs produce the original signature to the verified petition, supposedly executed by hand by “Alan Cooper” and notarized, which Mr. Gibbs stated, under penalty of perjury, that he has a copy of in his own possession and control? See In the Matter of a Petition by Ingenuity 13, LLC, E.D. Cal. Case No. 2:11-mc-JAM-DAD, ECF No. 1, 10/28/11;
  3. Will Mr. Gibbs identify his client contact at Ingenuity 13 and AF Holdings, given that Mr. Gibbs purported to speak with his “client” at Ingenuity 13 only two weeks ago?

Simple questions, and if there was another Cooper, they would be already answered, and the entire ordeal would be forgotten by today. Instead, Brett Gibbs became hysterical and reacted with a series of tantrums that I covered in detail:

Gibbs went even as far as filing a surprisingly frivolous motion for sanctions. This action raised some brows among attorneys: such a motion, full of baseless farcical allegations was destined to be denied. For example, Gibbs alleged that Morgan Pietz had tried to gain publicity and attract clients by secretly feeding this blog with publicly available documents. Of course, this motion was denied by Judge Wright without a single word of explanation.

On 12/14/2012, tired of Gibb’s games, Morgan Pietz filed an ex parte application for leave to take limited discovery prior to rule 26(f) conference regarding Alan Cooper and to stay subpoena in one of the Ingenuity 13 v. John Doe cases, 2012-cv-04976. He clearly explained the rationale:

[...]very recently, deeply troubling factual allegations have been made which suggest the plaintiff is engaged in a widespread and systemic fraud on the Courts affecting thousands of ISP subscribers. Specifically, very troubling questions have been raised as to whether Prenda Law, Inc., has misappropriated the identity of one Mr. Alan Cooper of Minnesota, holding him out in verified federal court filings as the principal of plaintiff Ingenuity 13, a shell entity organized in St. Kitts and Nevis, without Mr. Cooper’s knowledge or consent. Further, the circumstances seem to suggest that the plaintiff’s lawyers behind this action, Prenda Law, Inc. and/or John Steele, may be the real—but undisclosed—parties in interest in this case. For weeks, undersigned counsel, and others, have sought answers from Prenda Law, Inc. and its clients AF Holdings, LLC and Ingenuity 13, LLC, to try and put these concerns to rest. None of the answers proffered to date have been at all reassuring; to the extent Prenda has engaged on the issue at all, the only answers provided have been evasive to a degree that is almost comical.

To be honest, I did not put much hope in the success of this motion, yet to our cheerful surprise, it was granted by Judge Otis Wright.

Of course, I expect more tantrums and baseless accusations from the crooks in a futile attempt to avoid the inevitable, but this time I’m nearly sure that the judge means business and won’t allow Prenda to weasel out. It means that the following questions will be answered:

  1. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, is there another Alan Cooper who is currently the principal of Ingenuity 13, LLC — yes or no?
  2. If the answer to the first interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including current home address, business address, and telephone number.
  3. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, was there ever another Alan Cooper who was, in the past, the principal of Ingenuity 13, LLC — yes or no?
  4. If the answer to the third interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including all known home addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers.
  5. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, is there another Alan Cooper who is currently the principal of AF Holdings, LLC — yes or no?
  6. If the answer to the fifth interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including current home address, business address, and telephone number.
  7. Other than the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread, was there ever another Alan Cooper who was, in the past, the principal of AF Holdings, LLC — yes or no?
  8. If the answer to the seventh interrogatory is yes, state all contact information for this Alan Cooper, including all known home addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers.
  9. If the answer to the third interrogatory is yes, state each position this Alan Cooper held at Ingenuity 13, LLC and the dates such position was held.
  10. If the answer to the seventh interrogatory is yes, state each position this Alan Cooper held at AF Holdings, LLC and the dates such position was held.
  11. Eleventh Special Interrogatory: Was the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread ever a principal, even unwittingly, of Ingenuity 13, LLC?
  12. Was the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread ever a principal, even unwittingly, of AF Holdings, LLC?
  13. On November 26, 2012, when undersigned counsel emailed Brett Gibbs to ask for a routine extension request, Mr. Gibbs responded by email “I would have to check with our client about that request. Just an FYI, our client usually does not like to grant these types of requests on short notice unless there is a reasonable chance that settlement may occur in the case.” Later, Mr. Gibbs purported to have an answer on his query to the “client” regarding an extension. Who is the client contact at Ingenuity 13, LLC that Mr. Gibbs spoke with on this matter? Note, no details of the communication are being requested, just the name of the client contact.
  14. Reference is made to the following civil actions filed by AF Holdings, LLC and Ingenuity 13, LLC in the Northern District of California: 4:2012-cv-02049-PJH; 3:2012-cv-02393-CRB; 5:2012-cv-02394-LHK; 3:2012-cv-02396-EMC; 3:2012-cv-02404-SC; 4:2012-cv-02411-PJH; 3:2012-cv-02415-CRB; 4:2012-cv-03248-PJH; 3:2012-cv-04218-WHA; 5:2012-cv-04219-LHK; 5:2012-cv-04446-EJD; 5:2012-cv-04447-RMW; 5:2012-cv-04448-EJD; 3:2012-cv-04982-CRB; 3:2012-cv-04216-JSW; 3:2012-cv-04217-RS; 5:2012-cv-04445-LHK; 3:2012-cv-04449-SC; 3:2012-cv-04450-MMC; 3:2012-cv-04976-JSW; 3:2012-cv-04977-WHA; 4:2012-cv-04978-PJH; 5:2012-cv-04979-LHK; 5:2012-cv-04980-EJD; 3:2012-cv-04981-RS. With respect to the copyright assignments attached to the complaints in these actions, as Exhibit B thereto, which all appear to have a similar signature by “Alan Cooper,” please state whether the person who signed these assignments was the Alan Cooper of Minnesota who is represented by attorney Paul Godfread — yes or no?
  15. If the answer to the fourteenth interrogatory is no, then state all contact information for the person that did sign these documents, including all known home addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers.

Any attempt to avoid the answers will mean only one thing: a proof of a brazen criminal conduct. The scam artists found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Not the best timing for Prenda, given that in Florida another scandal involving possible document forgery is emerging.

Related
Followup

¹I don’t even touch upon the fact that all these allegations are based on the “impeccable” super-secret infringement detection methods employed by a “forensic” firm 6881 Forensics, which is not only unlicensed, but, to the best of my knowledge, unregistered as a business.

Comments
  1. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent…, SJD, Dec 28 2012. [...]

  2. Raul says:

    Wish I had something truly insightful to add but do not. Still…..WOW!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Awesome. Can’t wait to read the whining response. But let’s get real, Gibbs will defy this request, attempt motion play to delay, and when that runs out he’ll dismiss this case. Maybe Pietz will still try for sanctions if Gibbs is too evasive, but short of filing a counterclaim Prenda is going to slink off and this is not going to be their Waterloo. It will still be useful for confirming everyone’s suspicions about Cooper and adding to California Does’ growing list of surefire strategies for killing Prenda cases, but I don’t think we’re going to see Prenda put any answers to those questions on the record.

  4. Troll Chaser 2000 says:

    WOW! So intrigued. Did this ship just hit an iceberg? Of course it is “unsinkable” so we are good to just let the band play while women and children are first ushered into the few lifeboats. Gibbs will just urge us to never mind that the bow is growing closer to the water. Time to have a brandy on the deck? Or wait for the champagne celebration?

  5. Donald Duck says:

    Dismissing the case in 3…2..1…

    No way they actually answer.

    • that anonymous coward says:

      Asking for it to be dismissed and the Judge granting that order are 4 different things.
      As a motion to dismiss at this point would help to support the idea they were defrauding the court, I expect the Judge to swear them in and demand answers in court on the record and demand they produce everything and more including the mysterious Mr. Cooper in court on the record under oath.

  6. Troll Chaser 2000 says:

    I love to wait for the next episode of “To Tell The Truth”….only in this case the true identity of who is sworn to tell the truth can’t….What a deli-ma. Talk about an unusual occupation! This is getting better to watch than Survivor or Hunger Games.

    “Tell me….Alan…er…um…Brett…er…um John….Have you ever sued an innocent individual?”

    “Have you ever used flawed evidence to implicate an innocent individual?”

    “Is your scheme solely based around unbiased claims to extort money from the innocent?”

    “Is the firm you ‘hire’ to do your investigations in any way financially tied to your organization?”

    “Have you ever used another’s identity for you own purpose and gain?”

    “Did you ever alert that person that you were using their identity?”

    ….and so on….

    What fun this could be only when sworn under oath….such odds.

    How does this end….truth is truly stranger than fiction.

  7. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  8. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  9. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  10. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  11. Subscribe says:

    Subscribe

  12. The Tod says:

    I guess Johnny Fraud should not be bragging to his gardener about how good his fraud is doing. Just a thought. Nice write up SJD.

  13. AC says:

    This post made it to Slashdot’s front page yesterday. Congrats SJD! There was a very interesting and lengthy post regarding John Steele there:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3347377&cid=42419659

    The gist of it is, the guy works in the porn industry (assuming IT related) and has had interactions with John Steele and various producers. John Steele acts like he’s the savior of the porn industry, but really no one wants anything to do with him because a) they want to avoid the spotlight and b) they’re doing just fine making profits from actual fans and realize going after pirates is not going to actually help their business.

    Very good read!

    • jammingwithiesu says:

      This guy does make a lot of good points, the one thing I would take issue with is the way that he exaggerates the media’s possible handling of it. I personally know someone whose grandmother had open wifi and paid up (I don’t think I’m speaking out of school, but at least it was a smaller amount to CEG TEK and not life changing, but still…), and that’s how I ended up learning of this issue and getting involved. A lot of elderly people do have open wifi and I don’t think it’s funny to joke about; the Time Warner technician who hooked up her router didn’t bother to set up WEP encryption for who knows what reason. It’s easy to dismiss the idea of open wifi, but people do it all the time. I have a buddy who I meet for lunch at a local diner, and he makes sure to bring his laptop every time to get his music torrents going with the free internet access (the point being, he knows about these suits and uses open wifi). It does happen, it’s not a media creation.

    • SJD says:

      Thank you. I still witness an unusual for a weekend traffic. This comment is indeed very good. I left a note there:

      Thank you for the insightful story. I cannot help making a separate blog post out of it, unless you object for some reason. Or, alternatively, you want to amend the text (write me at sophisticatedjanedoe@yahoo.com).

      Basically I and the fightcopyrighttrolls community know most of the facts and agree with all your conclusions, yet you connected the dots nicely and bring some fresh semi-insider perspective.

      Happy New Year!

      SJD (fightcopyrighttrolls.com)

      So I will make o post of this story, it more than deserves to be seen by as wider audience as possible (although probably more eyes have already seen it on slashdot than this site will be able to add :) ).

  14. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  15. Anonymous says:

    Interesting to say the least.. Two date typos in the Judge’s decion wrt to the brief stay – stayed until Jan 28, 2012 and shoud be Jan 28, 2013. Think Brett will try to use that as a bar to answering the questions?

  16. [...] often grant this kind of thing… but this time it did. Right after Christmas the judge granted the order in full, meaning that Gibbs and Prenda are now required to answer the following [...]

  17. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  18. [...] sure there are hundreds of Alan Coopers in this world.” The day after Christmas, Judge Wright ordered Prenda to finally give the court a straight answer about the identity of its [...]

  19. [...] sure there are hundreds of Alan Coopers in this world.” The day after Christmas, Judge Wright ordered Prenda to finally give the court a straight answer about the identity of its [...]

  20. [...] sure there are hundreds of Alan Coopers in this world.” The day after Christmas, Judge Wright ordered Prenda to finally give the court a straight answer about the identity of its [...]

  21. [...] sure there are hundreds of Alan Coopers in this world.” The day after Christmas, Judge Wright ordered Prenda to finally give the court a straight answer about the identity of its [...]

  22. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of “Coopergate” aren’t there two AF Holdings cases in Appellate Courts?
    12-56667 in the 9th District Court of Appeals (originally 2:12-cv-05720-PSG-RZ)
    12-7135 in the DC District Court of Appeals (originally 1:12-cv-00048-BAH from DCD –> Howell’s Case)

    IF it turns out that Alan Cooper of AF Holdings is really the stolen identity of John Steele’s old property caretaker, then can you imagine how an appellate judge would react to a case in their court where the plaintiff “corporation” doesn’t have a real and consenting principal if such a revelation comes to light and is proven? This could be interesting. Thoughts?

  23. [...] is “Alan Cooper” (AF Holdings LLC CEO) – Interrogatories Plaintiff is required to answer in case [...]

  24. [...] let it simmer for a bit.  I think Mr. Ranallo will let it sit until Prenda answers the “Alan Cooper” questions concerning AF Holdings LLC, and the possible mass fraud they are responsible [...]

  25. [...] Big news: Judge Wright has granted a discovery aimed at solving the Alan Cooper mystery (and, potent… [...]

  26. [...] the real owners of AF Holdings and Ingenuinty 13 — under penalty of perjury — as it was ordered by the judge, whom our lying little swindler attempted to remove from the [...]

  27. [...] set of interrogatories is largely different from those hanging over the Brett Gibbs’s head, perfectly complementing them. It is like opening the second front against an army of [...]

  28. [...] about it — until I was pointed to the fact that this is the same case where Judge Write granted Morgan Pietz’s discovery that supposed to shed some light on the mysterious AF Holdings / Ingenuity 13 CEO Alan [...]

  29. […] two issues and a few more pointed questions to get to the heart of the Alan Cooper issue. And they got it. Gibbs response? “I think I’ll try to disqualify the Honorable Judge Wright for […]

  30. […] his shakedown business is legit, he will more easily make mistakes, and Malibu’s remake of the Coopergate will happen earlier or later. Look, we were depressed two years ago observing Prenda’s seeming […]

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