So just a general question and maybe one only the subs can answer, but are the subs staying with Robert or they moving away from him?
Plant Hardiness Zone 6B, 5300 ft., Bee Zone A/B, Proverbs 24:13
Previous sub-producers, I believe that most, if not all of you, were ripped off by RRussell the same as the smaller guys were ripped off. In the following words I'm not passing judgement or anything but rather want to mention a couple of things pertaining to "perception" that you might want to think about. This is just my perception and I may be the only person on this planet that has seen things this way, but...here it is anyhow.
One thing that always bugged me with the many Russell sub-producer websites that I checked out "back when" (and I checked out *several* of them) was that the only way to contact them was through a web form...I've just never liked sending money to a "web form", though. There were no email addresses offered, no physical addresses, and for the ones that I checked out I don't recall there being any owner names given. On some websites there would be pictorals of the local area or beeyards and might give a general location...but these read more like a flyer to attract tourists or something. I imagine that better contact information would have been given to me if I had placed an order...using PayPal at least some type of an email address would be given. But, for a business to not be upfront with this information caused me to wonder about the entire sub-producer thing, especially in light of the developing situation with Robert Russell.
Many of the sub-producer websites now appear to be down or either have statements distancing themselves from (Robert) Russell. Only one or two appear to have their old (pro-Russell) content still online...I think those are probably just from neglect. Some websites have reverted back to their old names and sites (good for them). Of the websites that have made changes but appear to be using the cookie-cutter web software I see only one that has good contact information to it...I applaud the Missouri producer. But, most of the "modified" websites (as of this morning) still only offer web forms for contacting them.
With the smoke and mirrors that apparently have been the norm for Robert Russell and his business it seems that businesses previously associated with them would strive to have greater transparency and distance themselves from any possible perception of having something to hide.
One other item is that If you were a sub-producer and you're still using the cookie-cutter software that came with the "franchise" be aware that visually the "web store" says RUSSELL very loudly. Those ribbons in the lower righthand corner of many of the item pictures reminds me greatly of Russell's web store. I would think that other businesses use the software with good results but if used in the bee business I think that at least in the near future it will bring up bad memories for many folks. I don't know if you really want to continue using it or not. Just thought I'd mention it.
I know I've made some jokes and jabs in the past about the situation in trying to add some levity to a somber situation, in it all I never intended to harm anyone and hope that I didn't. I wish all involved, from the single queen purchaser to the franchise owners, that in some way good will come out of this for you. My brother was a kidney transplant patient who went through over 10 years of dialysis, he was not a quitter, he was a fighter. Sometime back in the early eighties a (dentist) friend of ours came into the office one day with a rolled up poster in his hand. He proceeded to hop up on my brother's desk (which faced a wall), unroll the poster and tape it to the wall. It is a picture of a very rocky ocean shoreline, very treacherous water looking outward to the safe, open ocean. It has a caption below it.
A couple of years later my brother received a donor kidney that worked marvelously. After that he fathered two sons, something that his doctors did not think would happen. He was successful and lived life to the fullest. Two days after Christmas in 2001 my brother died in my arms at that desk. Massive heart attack. I don't think he had any regrets even though he caught a lot of crap in his life.
That poster has yellowed some and is getting brittle...but it's still hanging on that wall. Like many businesses, my business is hurting from the bad economy and I'm not sure what the future holds for it, but if per chance I leave this office that poster comes with me.
In life we get dealt things that aren't, or don't, seem fair. Sometimes those things are self-inflicted, other times other people inflict them on us. But it is what we're dealt. We are also dealt good things. Whichever the case is, it is up to us how we continue on with our life past these things.
As for my brother's poster it simply reads, "Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal."
So...what are you seeing? What are your beekeeping goals? Sure, obstacles arise but do you stay focused on them or do you put your eyes back on the goals? Your choice...
My brother now is in the hospital waiting for a liver & kidney transplant. In our family it is our faith that keeps us with our eyes on the "goal" of the high calling of Jesus. With all of these "soaps" and lifes adversities I am reminded of a seminar by a couple from Alabama with 2 statements that I repeat often. They are:
"What's in the well comes up in the bucket" and a little more definition
"People, things & situations do not make me what I am, they simply reveal who I am"
Charles H. Wilson
My website had my full name, po box, a google map showing how to get to my house, my cell phone number (which some of the people with problems called and spoke to me), a picture of myself, my wife, and my kids, and my personal email address (email@example.com). Even my screen name in every forum is my last name. I have always been an upstanding person as are the subproducers that I dealt with. I can see how some are skeptical but I would like to set the record straight on what my transparency was/is.
Several months ago Rob Hughes on another forum said that Robert Russell was sick (cancer or something) and asked for donations to buy him a gift. Some people pitched in and sent money to Rob Hughes to buy him a get well gift. Now that Robert Russell has admitted that he posed as Rob Hughes we all are wondering what Robert bought Robert with the donations.
No, I'm not really interested right now. Maybe some day. I still need more practice. I may do what I did last year and give away cells that I make for practice. As a subproducer I was going to buy cells till I got good at grafting and cell building.
Great Post Ed - sorely needed and appreciated by many I'm sure and thanks for such a thoughtful post - it sure got me to thinking.
I too would think anything with that looked like, smelled like, sounded like it was now or ever connected to the Russel name, including any Russells that might do things right, would be doomed. We are a unique community of individuals and as much as at times we may bicker we certainly have an interest in protecting what for decades has been a dying breed of people and word will get where it needs to.
with all this it just seems incredible no charges appear to be pending or filed????
Joel, I think you're right. Unless all of us that are owed refunds get in line either at the sheriffs office or post on the other link for internet fraud, I don't think any charges are really pending other than posing as another individual. Kind of curious what the best course of action still is. MtINAZ doesn't have proof, only what he suspects, but at least he was able to blow the whistle on the operation or lack there of.. The subs will probably be standing in line also but it was a good scheme where there was just possibly more blue sky offered, vs. a set number of queens that they never got etc... Hopefully, something happens so he's not able to continue this under another alias, or in another area..
Check out the changes at the RA website.
I'm not sure how long all this is going on but in my state the statuate of limitations on a misdemeanor is 2 years, a property felony would be 5 years so the clock is ticking. If it has been 5 or 6 months under investigation with a law enforcement agency then this may likely die on the vine unless more people get involved. The diffiulty with Penal Law enforcment is there needs to be some type of " criminal intent" when you are dealing with fraud (or any criminal case for that matter) and often in these cases (Fraud by deception) it helps or is required to have some type of contract. Criminal intent does not mean you have to get Russell to admit he had criminal intent - it can have to do with the "reasonable man" deduction which is when someone does something that a reasonable man would have known would result in the negative which happened, then making it a crime. Most commonly in the public view this is seen in "criminal negligence" cases where a suspect did something such as discharing a firearm in an area where a "reasonable man" would deduce there was a danger to some other person, and someone is hurt or killed. This negligence then becomes the intent. In fraud types of prosecutions there can be a pattern if shown which shows a person carried out a pattern of behavior that a "reasonable man" would expect would lead to people not getting what they purchased, ie stock futures, or a non-exisitant product - possibly in this case AND the seller keeps the money. In my any state criminal investigation within a county, would mean the district attorney for the county is the lead law enforcement agency unless they are excused due to a conflict of interest or some other issue. Your States attorney's office also has an interest in these types of case (next after DA's office) . Usually these offices do not get wind until a case is near completion and an officer or detective brings a case in for review and many times that never happens due to a lack of evidence because enough people don't come forward. Most often when it is done the District or an Assistant District Attorney will advise an investigator to do A, B and C, then either make a summary arrest (no warrant) or nowadays usually apply for an arrest warrant. Perhaps forwarding a link to this thread to the Sherriffs Office, the DA and or the States Attorney along with an explanation and them seeing how many people have been affected, may get more focus. It's not that the case is not important as a misdemeanor but our courts are a revolving door and time is limited. The idea in an officers mind that a case is good is often disuaded as officers are looking at the level of probable cause (to make the arrest) and the DA is looking at Proof beyond a reasonable doubt because DA's hate losing in court. If the people cheated here do nothing, make no noise, other than on the blog, it may be very likely nothing will become of it and just as likely Russell will continue. If any of this was done by mail, mailed checks, bills, there may be postal violations as well although I know I've ever seen a postal enforcement outside of drug case and that was not done too well. Also in these cases the difference between a misdemeanor case ( punishment under a year and fine under $1000 in NY) and Felony Case (Punishment Over a year and in excess of $1000) in property cases has to do with the amount of the "theft" or loss so the more money the authorities know were stolen, the better chance of a Felony conviction, the more attention the case will garner. I don't know Mississppi Penal Law but if this does fall under their Penal Law and people were willing to give sworn depositions, which can be done via mail as long as they are sworn according to the requirment of Miss. Law, and the Sherriffs Dept. was able to file charges you'd see this case settled in a hurry with what most likely would be probation and restititution. These types pee their pants when there sitting in an interview room thinking about jail time. The restitution now becomes mandatory to avoid a jail sentence and such cases rarely go to trial. Just something to think about for all those hurt who wonder can they do more. You all indivicually may have lost a misdeaneor level amount of money so one or two people in such a case may make it small potatoes, together very likely together you lost a felony amount of money and that word felony changes everything, if it can be established this is a crime under Miss. Penal Law/Code. Busy street cops investigate misdemeanors in between domestic disputes, Motor Vehicle accidents, and seat belt details, Detectives who own their days investigate Felonies.
Last edited by Joel; 02-25-2013 at 03:50 PM.
Joel, could you be more explanitory please?
"Beekeeping. It's a journey, not a destination." Mark Berninghausen
Excerpt from an email I received last night from Russells-Nebraska:
"I’m contacting all my customers individually, to determine how they desire to proceed.
Recent information has come to our attention regarding Russell Apiaries and I must emphasize that some or all of it may or may not be true, but if true, then the Russell Apiaries State Sub-Producer Program will end abruptly, as none of us who agreed to be sub-producers want any part in misrepresenting anything at any level. Here in the USA, we presume innocence until proven guilty, and details may come to light in the future that exonerate some actions while condemning others or some other scenario. We're attempting to find out all we can, but we do not yet know the complete picture and may never know. Russell Apiaries did get us great bees, we just don’t know the rest of the story, and one can make assumptions and accusations until blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that right now, we just don’t know, so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, but taking precautions, just in case. Even though I’ve acted nobly, please accept my sincere apologies, because whether true or not, this pains my heart, no matter the outcome.
What we know: All Russell Apiaries State Sub-Producers acted in good faith and with noble intentions. All sub-producers remain honorable people, deceived in so many ways and some of us at substantial financial and operational losses, all because we gave the benefit of the doubt at every turn. We don’t yet know many details or who truly was behind the current situation, but we’re trying to find out and when we do, since we have nothing to hide, we’ll make the truth known.
I'm able to provide what was represented to all of us as the Northern Select Sunkist Non-Cordovan (NSK) line, my pre-sold 4lb packages for April (although now we may need to use another queen breeder for all packages and so we may need to push the pick-up dates to the second weekend in April), my pre-sold nucs in April/May as they overwintered at a friend’s house not far from here, and my NSK queens from May onward for 2013. I have a personal copy of all my customers' orders, so I know if a person did or didn't order through me and what they ordered. However, I planned to use my colonies in Mississippi, which I can’t confirm are there right now or the breeders of 10 different types to supply many April queen orders. Although we don’t yet know, the lineages of several strains may or may not be accurately represented to all of us, so I'm unwilling to ship any queens other than NSK until after I recover financially from this tremendous loss and can pay for genetic testing to confirm lineages as true-to-type and to revisit availability of other genetically confirmed strains next year. I’m offering all who ordered through Russell Apiaries Nebraska a choice of a refund, or to choose to have me ship the same number of Northern Select SunKist queens as replacements, as I know with certainty that I have both the NSK breeders and NSK drone mothers in a secure location and that I can mate true-to-type for Russell Apiaries’ NSK line. If you desire a refund, instead of NSK replacement queens, then please give me several months’ time to come up with the money out of my own pocket. "
I just noticed that he has added the same basic message to his website. I personally do not have much money tied up in this mess, and I feel for those that do.
I just made this offering to the Rankin MS Prosecutor. I advise others defrauded to do the same. It is the least we can do for the Ole Doc. I of course gave my full contact information at the bottom, but didn't feel it neccessary here. I wouldn't want all those folks feeling sorry for me to send a lot of money! The money I lost was just more tuition in the school.
I paid $546 to Russell Apiaries in Sept/October of 2011 for queen honeybees to be delivered May of 2012. I like hundreds of others never recieved the promised livestock in what has to be an intentional scheme to defraud.
I understand that Mr. Russell has appeared before the court for his fraudulent conduct. I would like to bear witness to the fact that Mr. Russell's behavior was not the result of poor luck or even poor business practices but an intentional theft of funds.
His descriptions of the livestock also describes new and valuable strains of honeybee genetics that indeed did not exist.
He actively misrepresented his qualifications stating he had a PHD in Entomology he did not possess. We are talking about a confidence man of the lowest order. Would you do me the service of forwarding this to the proper authority if your office is not the correct place to place my greivance.
Vance, was there an email address, or did you write a letter? I've been trying to find where, what, who, to file...
Vance, my old friend from the " Dr. FrankenRussellstein Cult" you can count me in at your story. I do not know if you remember, but I call Russell's bluff and ask "Rob" if he was Russell altered ego at their own forum.
Anyways, I did file a complain too, and hope to see Robert Bernard Madoff Russell with stripes on suit soon.
Aurelio Paez DBA Michas Honey House
i'm curious were the 'subs' in place before,during,or after his "apiary" was quarentined for foulbrood and he was selling bees?were the 'subs' just saps set up to corroberate russels claim to having 'out of state apiaries'?did the subs get gracious opportunity to walk the halls of the research foundation?oh yeah I believe the thread I started about russel surpassed this thread and most of it slammed me for telling a verifiable truth.