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American Vending Systems / Mad Dog Energy / National Vending Systems


Most recent update 3/18/11 (See end of document)

United States v. Richard Black, a/k/a "Richard Allen," a/k/a "Richard Houston," and Gary Luckner, a/k/a "Gary Michaels," Case No. 10cr279-REB (D. Colorado)

United States v. Trey Friedmann, Case No. 10cr278-DME (D. Colorado)

United States v. Louis J. Gubitosa, Case No. 10cr280-LTB (D. Colorado)

United States v. Henry Melvin Hendrix, Case No. 10cr283-MSK (D. Colorado)

6/2/10 Update:

On May 24, 2010, a criminal information was filed against Richard Black, a/k/a "Richard Allen," a/k/a "Richard Houston," and Gary Luckner, a/k/a "Gary Michaels," charging both defendants with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. The information charged that Black and Luckner operated American Vending Systems ("American Vending"), National Vending Systems, Inc., ("National Vending") and Mad Dog Energy Products, Inc. The information alleged that from 2007-2009 Black and Luckner made material misrepresentations to and concealed material facts from individuals who purchased a business opportunity involving vending machines that dispensed energy balls, energy chews, and energy shots. The information charged, among other things, that American Vending and National Vending used phony references to induce sales and that one of the phony references was Black, who posed as a successful vending machine route operator sometimes under the name of "Richard Allen" and sometimes under the name of "Richard Houston."

Black and Luckner both made their initial appearances on May 24, 2010, and were released on bond, pending trial. A hearing is scheduled at 10:00 a.m. on September 17, 2010, before Judge Robert E. Blackburn, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom A1001, at which Black and Luckner are expected to plead guilty.

On May 24, 2010, a criminal information was filed against Trey Friedmann, charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The information charged that Friedmann was a salesman at American Vending. The information alleged that in 2008-2009 Friedmann made material misrepresentations to and concealed material facts from individuals who purchased a business opportunity involving vending machines that dispensed energy products.

Friedmann made his initial appearance on May 24, 2010, and was released on bond, pending trial.

On May 24, 2010, a criminal information was filed against Louis J. Gubitosa, charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The information charged that Gubitosa owned American Vending. The information alleged that in 2007-2009 Gubitosa made material misrepresentations to and concealed material facts from individuals who purchased a business opportunity involving vending machines that dispensed energy products.

Gubitosa made his initial appearance on May 24, 2010, and was released on bond, pending trial. A hearing is scheduled at 11:00 a.m. on June 8, 2010, before Judge Lewis T. Babcock, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom C401, at which Gubitosa is expected to plead guilty.

On May 27, 2010, a criminal information was filed against Henry Melvin Hendrix, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The information charged that Hendrix was a phony reference for American Vending. The information alleged that in 2007-2009 Hendrix, using the name "Mel Hendrix" or "Mel Hendricks," made material misrepresentations to and concealed material facts from individuals who purchased a business opportunity involving vending machines that dispensed energy products.

Hendrix made his initial appearance on May 27, 2010, and was released on bond, pending trial.

6/10/10 Update:

On June 8, 2010, Louis Gubitosa pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Gubitosa's sentencing hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on August 20, 2010, before Judge Lewis T. Babcock, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

A change of plea hearing for Trey Friedmann has been scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on September 17, 2010, before Judge David M. Ebel, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

6/16/10 Update:

The change of plea hearing for Trey Friedmann has been rescheduled for 3:00 p.m. on September 16, 2010, before Judge David M. Ebel, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

A change of plea hearing for Henry Melvin Hendrix has been scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on September 16, 2010, before Judge Marcia S. Krieger, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado.

8/26/10 Update:

The sentencing hearing for defendant Louis G. Gubitosa has been rescheduled for 11:00 a.m. on November 16, 2010, before Judge Lewis T. Babcock, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

9/20/10 Update:

Richard Black and Gary Luckner pled guilty on September 17, 2010.  Black and Luckner admitted using fake references (including Richard Black posing as "Richard Allen" and "Richard Houston") and making other misrepresentations when they sold business opportunities for vending machines that dispensed highly caffeinated energy snacks and energy shots.  Black and Luckner are scheduled to be sentenced at 10:00 a.m. on February 4, 2011, by Judge Robert E. Blackburn, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom A1001

Henry Melvin Hendrix pled guilty on September 16, 2010.  Hendrix, who used the name "Mel Hendrix," admitted pretending to potential purchasers of the business opportunity that he had purchased the vending machines, operated vending machines, and was making substantial profits.  Hendrix is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:00 a.m. on January 20, 2011, by Judge Marcia S. Krieger, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom A901.

Trey Friedmann's change of plea hearing has been rescheduled for 3:00 p.m. on November 3, 2010, before Judge David M. Ebel, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

11/5/10 Update:

On November 3, 2010, Trey Friedmann pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.  Friedmann admitted that, when he was a salesman at American Vending Systems, he made misrepresentations about profits, locations, and references to induce the sale of business opportunities.  Friedmann is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:00 a.m. on March 15, 2011, by Judge David M. Ebel, in Courtroom C202 of the Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

11/9/10 Update:

The sentencing hearing for Louis G. Gubitosa has been rescheduled for 11:00 a.m. on January 20, 2011, before Judge Lewis T. Babcock, Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado.

1/21/11 Update:

On January 20, 2011, Louis G. Gubitosa was ordered to serve 1 year and 6 months in prison and to pay $2.3 million in restitution.  Gubitosa owned American Vending.  In his plea agreement, Gubitosa acknowledged making misrepresentations about, among other things, the profits that would be generated by the vending machines and the quality of locations available for the vending machines.  Gubitosa also acknowledged using fake references, including a relative. 

There is no parole in the federal system and the maximum reduction of a prison sentence for good behavior is 15 percent.

Under federal law, restitution is ordered in criminal cases, in general, on the basis of losses a defendant causes and without regard to the defendant’s ability to pay the restitution.  To date, the government has been unable to collect money from the defendant to pay restitution.  There is no guarantee that any restitution will be collected.  If restitution is paid, it likely will be a small percentage of the total amount lost.

The sentencing of Henry Melvin Hendrix has been rescheduled for February 4, 2011, at 4:00 p.m., before Judge Marcia S. Krieger, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom A901.

The sentencings of Richard Black and Gary Luckner have been rescheduled for March 15, 2011, at 3:00 p.m., before Judge Robert E. Blackburn, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom A1001.

2/2/11 Update:

The sentencing of Henry Melvin Hendrix has been rescheduled for February 4, 2011, at 10:00 a.m., before Judge Marcia S. Krieger, Alfred A. Arraj United States Courthouse, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado, Courtroom A901.

2/7/11 Update:

On February 4, 2011, Henry Melvin Hendrix was sentenced to 5 years of probation, including 8 months of home detention, and ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution. Using the name “Mel Hendrix,” the defendant pretended to potential buyers that he operated a profitable vending machine route, even though he did not purchase or operate vending machines.

Three other defendants convicted as part of the same scheme – Richard Black, Gary Luckner, and Trey Friedmann – await sentencing on March 15. Defendant Louis Gubitosa was sentenced on January 20 to 18 months in prison (see 1/21/11 update above). Jennifer Putnam, a locator for American Vending Systems who was convicted as part of a related case, was sentenced on February 4, 2011 to 5 years of probation, including 8 months of home detention (see http://www.justice.gov/civil/ocl/cases/Cases/Putnam/index.htm).

Under federal law, restitution is ordered in criminal cases, in general, on the basis of losses a defendant causes and without regard to the defendant’s ability to pay the restitution. To date, the government has been unable to collect money from the defendant to pay restitution. There is no guarantee that any restitution will be collected. If restitution is paid, it likely will be a small percentage of the total amount lost.

3/18/11 Update:

On March 16, 2011, Richard Black was sentenced to serve 97 months (8 years and 1 month) in prison, serve 3 years of supervised released, and pay $5,066,456 in restitution. Black (with Luckner) set up and operated the scheme and was a phony reference who used the names “Richard Allen” and “Richard Houston.”

On March 17, 2011, Gary Luckner was sentenced to serve 90 months (7 years and 6 months) in prison, serve 3 years of supervised release, and pay $4,524,456 in restitution. Luckner (with Black) set up and operated the scheme.

On March 16, 2011, Trey Friedmann was sentenced to serve 24 months (2 years) in prison, serve 3 years of supervised release, and pay $465,734 in restitution. Friedmann was a salesman at American Vending.

A press release regarding these sentences and that of related defendants is here:

There is no parole in the federal system and the maximum reduction of a prison sentence for good behavior is 15 percent.

Under federal law, restitution is ordered in criminal cases, in general, on the basis of losses a defendant causes and without regard to the defendant’s ability to pay the restitution. To date, the government has been unable to collect money from the defendant to pay restitution. There is no guarantee that any restitution will be collected. If restitution is paid, it likely will be a small percentage of the total amount lost.