A well-known Northwest musician and record producer surrendered today to the FBI following an investigation into allegations that he bilked investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting a bogus charity album he said would feature songs from mega-artists like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Lady Gaga.
Kasey Anderson, the guitarist and frontman for the Portland-based alt-country band Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, appeared before a U.S. Magistrate judge in Seattle this afternoon after the U.S. Attorney’s Office unsealed a complaint charging Anderson with five counts of wire fraud.
His band, which has turned out two successful albums and has toured with Counting Crows, was a featured artist at Bumbershoot 2011.
However, the FBI began an investigation last year into Anderson’s efforts to raise money to produce a charity album to help fund the legal defense for the West Memphis Three, a trio of men convicted in 1994 of the supposed satanic murders of three children in Arkansas in 1993. New evidence cast doubt on their convictions, and their cause was taken up by a number of celebrities.
They were released in August after each served more than 18 years in prison.
In 2009, according to a complaint and a search warrant served in December for Anderson’s email accounts, Anderson convinced two groups totaling about 30 investors, to give him more than $525,000 for the project. No album was produced and nearly $370,000 was lost, according to the charges.
The charges allege that Anderson had met some of the investors after they had helped him fund a successful European tour with The Honkies. In his original offering memorandum, he had confirmed participation from Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, R.E.M, Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, the Foo Fighters, Johnny Depp and others, according to the charges.
The offering said the project would cost a total of $206,000, of which he would come up with half himself and tap investors for the other half. He predicted the album — which would be titled “Trapped Like a Ghost” — would sell 85,000 copies and be downloaded 100,000 times.
The investors would receive more than $500,000 back from their $103,000 investment within two years, he said.
The complaint alleges that Anderson created fake email addresses supposedly belonging to well-known music producers and agents and used them to convince the investors that the artists had committed to the project.