TAMPA, FL -- A federal grand jury here has charged a Florida man with criminal contempt of a federal court order in connection with the operation of a fraudulent vending machine business opportunity.
The U.S. Justice Department said the indictment returned by the grand jury alleges that Mark Miller, 40, of Maitland, FL, fraudulently marketed and sold business opportunities nationwide under the names Site Selectors Inc., Five-Star Vending Inc., Markland Group Inc. and Break Time Vending.
Miller and his representatives purportedly told customers that, for purchase prices of $2,500 or more, they would receive snack and drink vending machines that could be placed in profitable locations through Miller's locating services.
Miller was subject to a 2003 federal court order that, among other things, banned him from selling business ventures, forbade misrepresentations in the sale of such ventures (should he decide to violate the ban), and required that he monitor his salespeople to ensure they made no misrepresentations.
According to the indictment, Miller violated this order by selling vending machine business ventures out of Seminole and Orange Counties in Florida from April 2005 through April 2007, making various misrepresentations when he sold the ventures, and using an alias to do so. His violations allegedly cost consumers more than $450,000.
The indictment further alleges that Miller's customers complained to him and his representatives about not receiving the vending machines or locating services they had purchased. He allegedly refused to give refunds and instead told, and instructed employees to tell complaining customers, false stories about the reasons that he did not provide the promised business ventures.
Miller is charged with seven felony counts of criminal contempt. If convicted, he faces imprisonment and a possible fine. Tony West, an assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Division, said the department has charged over 100 individuals with business opportunity-related felonies over the past five years. Many of these involved vending programs.