'ROUND AND 'ROUND RON CLEARS ELLIS. UNTIL NEXT WEEK.
'Round and 'Round Ron weighs in on Tommy Ellis' role in the BurnLounge affair, and finds him "guilty of nothing but poor judgement." At least, that's what Ron says until he changes his mind.
THERE ARE A few misconceptions that need to be cleared up by Todd Ellis, the former South Carolina quarterback who, for the past four seasons, has served as radio play-by-play announcer for the Gamecocks football team.
First, Ellis says is no scam artist. ...
Which really is proof of his innocence, because scam artists regularly, you know, fess up.
Based on the fact that BurnLounge CEO Grant Johnson resigned this past week, and that the company on Thursday modified the "network marketing" part of its business model, it appears that BurnLounge is conceding that it operated as an illegal business.
Ellis on Friday said he is considering pulling out of the business. If the court case goes as it appears to be going, that decision will be made for Ellis. When the business folds, Ellis still will have made in excess of $200,000 over a three-year period, an estimate based on the number of clients Ellis involved in the business. ...
So the CEO has resigned, the whole company is redoing its operations, the FTC has labeled it a pyramid scheme, and Ellis "is considering pulling out of the business"? But, remember, he's not a scam artist. [UPDATE 11:39 p.m., 6/25/07 -- An anonymous poster has indicated that Morris got the name and/or position of the resigning figure wrong. I leave the error in because it is Morris'.]
When Ellis was first told of BurnLounge in November 2005, he immediately was intrigued with the possibility of supplementing his income as a Columbia attorney. He saw BurnLounge as a possible billion-dollar business that was on the cutting edge of the distribution of music via the Internet.
Ellis said he also had serious doubts about the BurnLounge business concept. He obtained a copy of the company's 31-page policies and procedures and pored over them on five occasions. He met with corporate executives and went through each provision, gaining assurance from a BurnLounge lawyer that all was on the up and up.
Ellis said he also found a database of cases involving possible pyramid schemes and, after reading those, continued to believe BurnLounge was a legitimate operation. He saw BurnLounge as another Papa John's Pizza, where the success of that company depended not on selling pizzas at one location but by expanding franchises across the country. ... [EMPHASIS, AS ALWAYS, C&F's]
So the poor attorney -- I just needed some money -- looked thoroughly into BurnLounge's business model and saw all was well. At least until the FTC publicly disagreed with him. And then he wasn't so sure.
What Ellis might have exploited are his friendships and family ties. However, it is not as if he swindled friends and family out of tens of thousands of dollars. The most any individual could have lost in one year is $850. Ellis said any new "store" owner or member could have dropped out at any time and received a full refund, and he said that happened occasionally. ...
Well. As long as he was only swindling friends and family out of $850 a pop, then that makes the whole thing OK.
If we learned anything from the Duke University lacrosse case it is that we should not rush to judge before all facts are presented. So far at least, Ellis is guilty of nothing but poor judgment. The price for that is likely to be his reputation.
Ah, remember those poor Duke guys. They were just degrading to women and ended up charged with rape. That's all it is with Ellis.
At least until Morris writes the column calling him the greatest scam artist of all time and calling for a 20-year prison term.