Gold Star Vending, Inc.

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Gold Star Vending, Inc.


Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Most Recent Update 6/18/10 (See end of document)

United States v. Robert Nicol, Andrew Vogen, Michele Benitez and George Hustus, Case No. 08-cr-20953 (SD FL)

United States v. Seth Lehrenbaum, Case No. 09-cr-20871 (SD FL)

United States v. Charles Nicol, Case No. 09-cr-20287 (SD FL)

United States v. Melissa Brewster, Case No. 09-cr-20660 (SD FL)

10/21/08 Update:

On October 21, 2008, Robert Nicol, Andrew Vogen, Michele Benitez and George Hustus were charged by federal criminal indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Robert Nicol also was charged with three counts of wire fraud. The charges alleged that the defendants participated in business opportunity fraud through telemarketing. The charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami and involved the defendants’ conduct at a fraudulent business opportunity firm called Gold Star Vending, Inc.

It should be remembered that an indictment is not evidence of criminal activity, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise.

11/24/08 Update:

The court placed Robert Nicol on fugitive status. Anyone possessing information about the whereabouts of Robert Nicol, also known as Bob Nicol, should contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Miami at 954-436-7200.

12/9/08 Update:

On December 9, 2008, Michele Benitez and George Hustus pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

1/29/09 Update:

On January 29, 2009, Andrew Vogen pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His sentencing hearing has been set for April 14, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. in Miami.

2/25/09 Update:

On February 25, 2009, Michele Benitez was sentenced to five years probation with 6 months home confinement with electronic monitoring and $38,790 in restitution. On the same day, George Hustus was sentenced to three months imprisonment, three years supervised release, and $51,998 in restitution.

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. See 18 U.S.C. 3664 (f)(1)(A), which provides: "In each order of restitution, the court shall order restitution to each victim in the full amount of each victim's losses as determined by the court and without consideration of the economic circumstances of the defendant." Any payments made by the defendant will go to the Court and will then be shared among victims. Any amount due a victim shall be reduced by any amount the victim recovers for the same loss from any other source. If you have any questions regarding the restitution order, please contact the Federal Probation Office of the Southern District of Florida.

4/2/09 Update:

Charles Nicol was charged by federal criminal indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  The charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami and alleged that the defendant participated in business opportunity fraud through telemarketing at Table Top Vending, Inc. and Gold Star Vending, Inc. 

7/9/09 Update:

Charles Nicol pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His sentencing hearing has been set for September 17, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. in Miami.

8/25/09 Update:

Melissa Brewster was charged by federal criminal information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  The charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami and alleged that the defendant participated in business opportunity fraud through telemarketing at Gold Star Vending, Inc.  Brewster pled guilty to the charges against her and her sentencing hearing was set for November 10, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. in Miami. 

9/17/09 Update:

Charles Nicol was sentenced to forty-one months imprisonment and $751,028 in restitution.

10/6/09 Update:

On October 6, 2009, Seth Lehrenbaum was charged by federal criminal indictment with eight counts of wire fraud while on release. The charges alleged that the defendant participated in business opportunity fraud through telemarketing at two separate business opportunity firms while on release pending sentencing for his role at another business opportunity firm. The charges were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami and involved the defendant’s conduct at the Gold Star Vending, Inc. and Global Brands fraudulent business opportunity firms.

11/10/09 Update:

Melissa Brewster was sentenced to fifteen days imprisonment followed by four months house arrest with electronic monitoring and $101,760 restitution.

4/20/10 Update:

On June 4, 2009, Andrew Vogen was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, 3 years’ supervised release and $203,379.50 in restitution.

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. See 18 U.S.C. 3664 (f)(1)(A), which provides: "In each order of restitution, the court shall order restitution to each victim in the full amount of each victim's losses as determined by the court and without consideration of the economic circumstances of the defendant." Any payments made by the defendant will go to the Court and will then be shared among victims. Any amount due a victim shall be reduced by any amount the victim recovers for the same loss from any other source. If you have any questions regarding the restitution order, please contact the Federal Probation Office of the Southern District of Florida.

On March 30, 2010, Robert Nicol was apprehended in a rural area of the Philippines.  The government of the Philippines is preparing to deport Nicol, at which time he will be transported to the United States to face charges in this case.

6/18/10 Update:

On June 16, 2010, Seth Lehrenbaum pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud while on release.  His sentencing hearing has been set for September 13, 2010, at 3:30 p.m. in Miami.

Updated October 20, 2014