The second of two Arizona men who were arrested back in 2013 for scamming two Lufkin men out of $54,000 by convincing them to invest in a bogus 2011 rap concert accepted a plea bargain deal of five years deferred adjudication Monday.
Michael Dwain Mitchell, 41, of Tempe, Arizona, appeared in Judge Barry Bryan’s 217 Judicial District Court Monday. He pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of theft between $20,000 and $100,000.
As part of the conditions of his probation, Mitchell will be jointly responsible for paying $52,000 in restitution. Deferred adjudication is basically probation. If Mitchell complies with the conditions of his deferred adjudication, he will not have a felony conviction on his criminal record.
Mitchell and Zelmer Andre Hagler, 30, of Maricopa, Arizona, were both arrested back in July 2013. The case was investigated by a member of the Texas Department of Public Safety's Criminal Investigation Division.
According to the affidavit, Mitchell and Hagler allegedly approached the first of the two Lufkin victims and "presented him with an opportunity to make a large profit on a concert of would invest $48,000 in the event." The two Arizona convinced the victim that they had connections in the rap music world.
In 2011, Mitchell and Hagler traveled to Lufkin and met with the victim under the pretense of promoting a local rap artist the man had managed in the past. The victim made an initial $5,000 investment in an event titled "The Next Big Thing" that was supposed to take place at Arizona State University, according to the affidavit.
At that point, Mitchell and Hagler allegedly offered the victim the chance to invest in a second concert that involved several big names from the rap music world, according to the affidavit. They told the victim that he would need to invest $48,000 in the second concert to get things started. The victim got a personal loan for $50,000 and convinced another Lufkin man to partner with him for the $48,000.
The affidavit said Mitchell and Hagler allegedly told the two Lufkin men that the concert titled "A Night of Chardonnay" was going to take place at the Marquee Theater in Tempe Arizona on December 2, 2011.
The first man began wiring money to an account owned by Hagler for various fees associated with the concert, the affidavit stated. In addition, Mitchell came back to Lufkin and opened a joint account with the two victims. The victims were told the account was going to be where the ticket proceeds for the concert would be deposited.
In the fall of 2011, the two Lufkin men flew back to Arizona to hammer out the details of the planned concert, the affidavit stated. Mitchell and Hagler allegedly took the two men out to eat, and even took them by the theater in Tempe. However, the theater was closed, and the two Lufkin men were unable to make contact with anyone associated with the theater.
The two victims allegedly signed an independent contractor agreement with Mitchell. He also reportedly presented them with a two-page proposal and event description that said two well-known rap artists would be performing as part of "A Night of Chardonnay."
According to the arrest affidavit, the second page of the document outlined the financial aspects of the concert. The two men were told that the total cost for the event would be $48,000, and that based on the projected revenue from the concert and after party, the two could expect an estimated profit of $112,000.
Mitchell also presented them with an artist engagement contract allegedly signed by one of the big-name rap artists on Oct. 28, 2011. The detailed contract specified that the rap artist would perform for 75 minutes during the concert and went on to outline what hotel accommodations would be required, the affidavit stated. The contract from Doing it Big, the business name for Mitchell and Hagler, also specified that a deposit of $20,000 was due no later than Oct. 29, 2011.
According to the affidavit, one of the victims became suspicious when he didn't see any sign of any advertisement or ticket sales for the event in the months leading up to the planned concert. By then, the two men had allegedly sent a total of $49,000 to Mitchell and Hagler. After a while, the two men also started having trouble getting Mitchell and Hagler to respond to call or text messages about the concert.
Later, the two Lufkin men learned that the rap star had never entered into any type of agreement or contract with Mitchell and Hagler to appear at the concert Tempe, Arizona. The DPS investigator was told by the rap artist's lawyer that the contract was a fraudulent document. In addition, the general manager of the Marquee Theater said there was no agreement to book the "Night of Chardonnay concert" for December 2, 2011.
Based on the initial deposit of $5,000 the first victim had given Mitchell and Hagler and the $49,000 he and his partner invested later on in the process, the DPS investigator determined that, together, the two Lufkin men were defrauded out of a total of $54,000.
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