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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 3:32 pm

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Yeah, The Publisher Guy

Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2004 5:18 pm
Posts: 1118
An explanation of the charges and settlement with Steve Sheiring

I'm having Alex post this letter to RPGnet. Someone on RPGnet got the public information from the State of Michigan showing that Palladium Books took a Plea Bargain and accepted a reduced misdemeanor charge in exchange for a cash restitution settlement of $47,000 (that was gone instantly to pay critical bills).

Being the nature of RPGnet, some people have seen nefarious and deceptive motives behind why I did not reveal this information. The following is my response.

I had hoped to avoid going into the legalities and intricacies of the theft, embezzlement and wrongdoings, as they are extremely painful and complicated. I also hoped that the perpetrator, Steven R. Sheiring, would not be identified for his own safety. I was, and continue to be, concerned that one or more people might take action against Mr. Sheiring. There have been a number of nasty jokes from fans about how they’d like to know who was responsible and what they’d like to do to him. That’s why I didn’t post about the court proceedings or that things had come to an unsatisfying resolve with the plea bargain in State Court.

Please be smart . . .

With Steve’s identity revealed, I make an open plea to our fans NOT to take action against Mr. Sheiring. Not for his welfare (I hope he rots in Hell), but for YOURS.

Please, do NOT do anything you’ll live to regret. He’s not worth it, and YOU will be the one who ends up in jail. As I stated in my address to the court, “While I am not happy with the results of the plea bargain, I feel I have no other recourse but to accept it. I do, however, take satisfaction that Mr. Sheiring has ruined his life and lost all his friends over his wrongdoings at Palladium Books.”

If any type of violence, vandalism, threats or wrongdoing happens to Mr. Sheiring it will not be because Palladium Books revealed his identity. I hope RPGnet’s doing so doesn’t result in anything unfortunate. I urge the organizers and administrators of RPGnet to make a public statement asking people NOT to retaliate in any way against Mr. Sheiring.

There are no misrepresentations

The damages are true as I have represented them in my posts on the Palladium Website. If anything, the numbers are conservative. The reason the original charges were “Theft and Embezzlement of $20,000 or greater” is because that’s the name of the statute or whatever it is.

Sadly, some people hear only a fragment of a story, make assumptions, jump to the wrong conclusion and then speculate and make claims that aren’t true. I have not lied, exaggerated, or misrepresented Palladium’s troubles, damages, losses or the reasons why. Everything I have stated is true.

Why accept the Plea Bargain?

The legal system as portrayed on television and other works of fiction are just that, “fiction.”

The police are overworked and underpaid. The courts are filled with brutal and bloody crimes that take precedence over nonviolent crimes. Our jails are filled with violent criminals, murderers, drug dealers and others. That makes non-violent crimes, like theft and embezzlement, low priority and get the slightest of punishments. Truth be told, after sitting in court and hearing some of the other crimes, I can understand that outlook.

I was told right off the bat, that Mr. Sheiring would probably get probation no matter what. That although he could be looking at as much as 10 years, the reality was probably one year suspended sentence and a felony on his record. If he did time at all, it would probably be 6 months to one year. With good behavior, he’d be out in 3-6 months.

My attorneys, accountant, and other advisors (including the prosecutor and detective, in an unofficial capacity), all agreed that with Palladium in dire straits, I should take whatever restitution I could get, provided it was more than a token amount of a few thousand. So that’s what I did. I accepted the much lesser charge of a “misdemeanor count of $200 or less embezzlement.” That meant no felony charge or time served. He is not a threat to society, no violence was involved, and it was his first offense.

This plea made me angry and sick, but he’d probably walk on probation anyway. As Mr. Sheiring’s defense attorney put it, I could take the plea and get some money that might help Palladium, or I could refuse, and take Steve to trial to “get my pound of flesh.”

Really, I had little choice. I had to think about my guys and Palladium’s survival. We needed the money desperately.

Supposedly, Steve Sheiring is broke. Whatever he may have stolen and embezzled is supposedly gone. We were told his 79 year old father put up the settlement money.

As part of the settlement, Steve also wrote off his investment money and any interest and royalties owed to him by Palladium Books. That’ll help in the long run, but not in our present situation.

That’s right, Steve Sheiring was an investor. He was also a trusted and a beloved friend for 24 years. An employee for 14. My right hand man. An uncle to my kids, and one of the gamers who helped convince me to start Palladium in the first place. Maybe he thought Palladium owed him for those reasons. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. He’s also the person who lied to every person at Palladium for two years running, stole more than eleven thousand books by the case, and engaged in a variety of wrongdoings that crippled this company. The betrayal and having to deal with the ramifications of his actions rocked every person at Palladium. We have gone through more pain than you can imagine.

As terrible and agonizing as all of this was, the grim reality was, Palladium did not have the money to pursue this with the F.B.I. or in civil court. A civil case would cost tens of thousands of dollars that Palladium nor I possessed. Plus, if the money is all gone . . . it’s a hollow victory. To go to the FBI we were told we would need a forensic accountant to pore through the bookkeeping and make note of the thousands of small things done to make the charges stick. Records so convoluted – thanks to Mr. Sheiring – that my accountant said it would cost at least $100,000 and hundreds of man hours to provide the FBI with all the data they would need. Both actions were out of reach and would only hasten Palladium’s demise if we persued them, stealing away more time, energy, and money (if we had it). We had no idea how people would respond to our call for help, so I took the plea.

It was one of those excruciating moments: Do you want “revenge” or do you want to “survive” and continue to do business. In a perfect world, Steve would be in a Federal Prison doing 6-10 years and we’d have restitution of all (or at least half) the damages. But this is not a perfect world. I had to make the decision I thought was best for Palladium and everybody involved. Besides, we had all spent enough time hating this S.O.B., if Palladium was to survive his treachery, we needed to focus on its survival. If there is divine justice, Steve will pay for his crimes, big time.

That’s the Truth

Those of you who want to believe the worst, I guess you will, and nothing I say will change your mind. You want me to be some kind of lying scum bag and you’ll find some way to make me out that way. Unfortunate, because it’s not true.

Only my staff and those closest to me know how agonizing this entire ordeal has been. The trauma inflicted upon the entire staff or how many tears and cries of anguish we’ve all shed. This is not a joke or a con game. This has been living hell.

We anguished about going public with our appeal. Palladium’s fans don’t owe me anything. Everything I have ever done, from keeping prices low to the X-Mas Grab Bags, I did because I thought it best for everyone. I love my work and my life. I have no regrets.

The phenomenal outpouring of love and support Palladium fans have exhibited in just this past week alone is overwhelming and magnificent. The greatest moment of my life. Even if Palladium Books should go under, I am one of the luckiest and richest people on the face of the Earth. Not rich in money (if Palladium goes under, I’ll literally lose everything, and a lot of other people will suffer too), but rich in friendship, respect, and love. I feel truly blessed. I’m living the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I mean truly living that movie with thousands of friends rushing forward to help save Palladium Books. People literally from around the world. That’s incredible beyond belief.

I thank every single one of Palladium’s fans and supporters.

For those of you who dislike me and/or Palladium Books, believe what you will. Hate me for whatever reason, but it doesn’t change the fact that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I have a wonderful life, and the greatest, kindest fans in the world. With their trust and help, and with hard work and a little luck at Palladium’s end, we will survive this very real, very true crisis of treachery.

I write this post only for Palladium’s fans, so you aren’t concerned or confused about what’s going on.

As those who know me, really know me, can testify, I would never lie about something like this. Never.

Kevin Siembieda
President and Owner of Palladium Books Inc.

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