Stories of musicians’ second careers range from the logical, like Stooges’ guitarist James Williamson becoming a VP at Sony, to the more baffling, like former Public Enemy DJ Terminator X deciding to raise ostriches. But it’s all fairly innocuous stuff, especially compared to what former Ataris bassist Michael Davenport got up to in the gloaming of his fame. As the Santa Barbara Independent reports, Davenport’s been indicted on federal fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly running a multimillion-dollar real estate scam.
Apparently, Davenport started a company called American Standard that ran a telemarketing scam which, from 2009 to 2016, bilked 100,000 people out of $27 million. (It’s more lucrative than a Vegas stint, we suppose, but also much more criminal.) Here’s a breakdown of the swindle: American Standard would post partial listings of “pre-foreclosure homes” on places like Craigslist, and offer to show the full info to people for the low price of $199. These buyers would soon realize the listings were fake, either because the address was made up or the homes weren’t actually up for short sale, but that’s the least of it—some people were conned into taking on mortgage payments for these supposedly underwater homes.
Both Davenport, who reportedly owned the company and oversaw its operations, and his sales rep turned sales manager Cynthia Rawlinson have been indicted for “conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud,” and they both face 30 years or more in prison. If Davenport wanted to be in real estate so badly, he should have just teamed up with Vanilla Ice on renovating and flipping homes.