As reported earlier, Ben Smith, District Attorney for Sac County, Iowa, had launched an investigation into potential witnesses tampering and extortion committed by, on behalf of and/or at the direction of RipOffReport.com. (See Tiny Iowa County Takes on the King of Online Defamation) Today, Sac County issued its first indictment to Darren Meade for multiple counts of witness tampering as well as counts for obstruction of justice and ongoing criminal activity stemming from his using RipOffReport.comt to smearing state witnesses in the murder trial of Tracy Richter.
The trial had become a cause célèbre for its twisted plot and was recently featured on Dateline NBC, as Richter was convicted of killing a local teenager and staging it as a home invasion and planting evidence to implicate her ex-husband in an attempt to gain leverage in a custody battle.
One of Richter’s ex-husbands is Michael Roberts, a RipOffReport.com critic who had fought them in public opinion and in court, most recently defeating their attempt to enjoin his efforts.
As explained in the prior report:
Richter was the ex-wife of Michael Roberts who ran a reputation management company. Roberts had disclosed details of an opportunity to license an existing illegal malicious SQL browser developed by Matthew Cooke to Darren Meade and Adam Zuckerman (a convicted felon on “supervised release”) which, when deployed, could effectively remove webpages from the internet.
Smith explains that Zuckerman hoped to emulate Cooke’s business model of “reputation racketeering” which used one web property to generate defamatory content that his reputation repair property would then use to solicit removal services with people paying thousands of dollars to remove the posts. . . . [A] fallout between Meade and Zuckerman in Southern California led Meade to turn to [RipOffReport.com (“ROR”)] who worked jointly with Meade in launching a smear campaign against Roberts. As Meade testified in a civil proceeding, ROR is “the perfect place to defame somebody because it will always stay up, and [has high Google rankings]. So if you want to destroy somebody’s reputation, that’s a great place to do it.”
Meade is set to be arraigned on September 22nd. There is speculation that RipOffReport.com founder Ed Magedson may also be indicted, but there is no word yet when or if this will happen.
Note: This firm represents one of Meade’s victims, Dr. Scott Connelly, who is referenced in Count 1A of the indictment.