Traveling Sales Crews
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Press Release
February 16, 2003

The Dedicated Memorial Parents Group

The Dedicated Memorial Parents Group

February 16, 2003: For Immediate Release


The dirty business of child exploitation is alive and well in the door to door sales industry. Children and young adults across this country are at risk of being falsely lured into this brutal and immoral business.

Our research also shows an alarming increase of violence against anyone unfortunate enough to open their door to a traveling sales crew agent. A lack of background checks combined with our own government’s inability to pass meaningful legislation to regulate the direct sales industry is responsible for the violence and death that has plagued this industry for well over two decades.

But the real villains of this national tragedy are the clearing houses and publishers that on a daily basis continue the dirty business of sales by exploitation without legal entanglement.

Contact: Phil Ellenbecker

Main Text

Children and young adults across this country are being abandoned, mutilated and killed in traffic accidents, raped, and murdered.

They are being exploited by people who sit back in their easy chairs inside of luxurious offices collecting hundreds of millions of dollars a year in profits. Profits that are collected through a chain of business relationships based on direct sales and the door to door sales industry.

This industry is a multi-billion dollar a year conglomerate that feeds on the wanderlust, inexperience and innocence of children and young adults.

As of this editorial the door to door sales industry is directly responsible for the deaths of fifty human lives that we are aware of. This industry is also responsible for countless abandonment’s, traffic mutilations, and life long psychological injuries.

The facts presented here speak for themselves. One only needs to look at the staggering amounts of media coverage collected on our web sites to realize how very severe and devastating this problem really is.

Children and young adults are not the only victims of this soulless blood sucking industry. Our research has uncovered an alarming trend in violent crimes being carried out against anyone unfortunate enough to open their door to a traveling sales crew member. Many of the individuals hired by the unscrupulous fly-by-night sales crew recruiters have criminal backgrounds. Our records show that these individuals have committed some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Crimes that have destroyed lives and devastated families across this country.

Numerous attempts have been made over the years to expose these most violent issues. In the early nineties a series of articles were published by the Houston Chronicle displaying a treacherous trail of abandonment, death, child exploitation, and unscrupulous business practices. In the late nineties another very powerful series of articles published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel demonstrated that the door to door sales industry has done nothing to regulate itself and that the same violence documented by the Houston Chronicle was on the rise.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel articles were spurred on by one of the most tragic accidents in the state of Wisconsin when Jeremy Holmes, working for Y.E.S. and Subscriptions Plus, Inc. owned by Karleen Hillery, tried to switch seats in a van carrying fourteen sales crew members.

Jeremy Holmes lost control of the van, which was traveling at 81 mph, and killed seven children and young adults on March 25, 1999. He also maimed five others for life. Jeremy Holmes was sentenced to seven years in prison, one year for each child’s death, a punishment that was viewed by many to be much too lenient.

Choan Lane, the Y.E.S. crew chief/manager was sentenced to three and one half years in prison for interfering with the custody of a child, obstructing an officer, contributing to the delinquency of a child, and contributing to truancy.

The accident in Janesville, Wisconsin gained national attention and shows like NBC’s Date Line and ABC’s 20/20 picked up the story and further exposed the plight of young children, the sweatshop conditions and exploitation that continually plagues this industry. Within a year after the Janesville van crash at least three similar accidents and a killing have taken six more lives and now after nearly four years since the Janesville accident a total of fifteen souls have perished working for this immoral and greedy industry that cares nothing about human life.

The clearing houses and publishers maintain their distance from any legal entanglements by insisting that the kids working on the sales crews are independent contractors when in reality the passage of money flows directly from the crew subscriptions, to the clearing house and then on to the publishers. This arrangement is not by accident. It has been thought out and planned this way in order to minimize any legal and liable connection between the kids selling products door to door and the clearing houses and publishers. This arrangement also virtually eliminates any rights that the kids would have if they were considered employee’s of the sales crews. By manipulating the grey area of law the clearing houses and publishers can literally get away with murder. The children have no rights, no minimum wage, no insurance, and no benefits and are treated as indentured servants and slaves.

Recruiters for unscrupulous direct sales companies lure young people to a hotel or motel for an interview; convince them to join the traveling sales crew selling magazine subscriptions, cleaning products, candies or other products door-to-door.

The crew chiefs put up ads in local newspapers, solicits kids at high schools, goes to teen functions and even cruise the "main drags" where teenagers hang out. They promise the kids travel: "see the country for free", adventure: "meet new people and have fun under the sun while making hundreds of dollars a week", including free room and board. These are all lies. In reality they work long hours (10 - 12 hours a day) in strange neighborhoods that at times are hostile, sleep on floors in cheap hotels where many times 4 to 5 kids or more are packed in a single room, are physically and mentally abused by the crew chiefs in front of their peers when they come back with low sales quotes, are left abandoned without any money in unfamiliar towns across the country when they get sick or can't meet their sales goals.

Many of the crew chiefs/managers allow the kids to use drugs. In the case of Choan Lane (a.k.a. Y.E.S. – and Subscriptions Plus, Inc.) he used marijuana as a treat to get the kids to sell more subscriptions. Crew chiefs routinely depend on and exploit the inexperience and innocence of the children. Beatings, mental abuse, and intimidation are common practices and have been well documented. Male crew chiefs have been known to make the female agents submit to sexual acts and have even raped female agents.

Deceptive recruiting practices combined with the promise of adventure and instant wealth become the doom of many children. Some of these children are as young as fourteen years old. Many of these children never come home.

These sweatshop conditions have been well documented and have existed for well over twenty years. Thousands of families across the country have had to suffer the agony of not being able to find their son or daughter. Thousands of families have been brutalized and crippled by the haunting fear that their child may be suffering or even worse. Many of these families never see their child alive again.

These immoral and illegal practices that the clearing houses and publishers have engaged in on daily basis for profits must be stopped. Is the life of one child worth all of the money that the clearing houses and publishers of this country continue to collect? Our sons and daughters are all in danger of being trapped, manipulated and lied to. The United States Government has done nothing to protect our children. The clearing houses and publishers have done nothing to regulate or clean up their dirty business.

By exposing the clearing houses and publishers who are directly responsible for the daily exploitation of children and young adults we can all make a difference. We can collectively save lives and minimize the destructive forces that have been set into motion by one of the most destructive and immoral industries in the history of this country.

The Dedicated Memorial Parents Group
February 16, 2003

*** WARNING ***

If you are solicited by a child/sales person
selling door to door beware:

The youth (if not from your area) will most likely be working for a traveling sales crew of some kind.

Take the following precautions:

1) Do not allow the sales person into your home!

2) Ask for identification and a seller’s permit.
If the person cannot produce these items tell them you have to go, wait until the kid is down the street and immediately call your local police department and the Attorney Generals office. Do not tell the sales person that you intend to call the police.

3) Ask to see documents on who the sales person is selling for.

4) Ask if they are from your area (many of the kids will lie about why they are selling and where they are from - they will tell you that they are selling for a charity or working their way through school etc.)

5) If you can, get a description of the car or van and try to get a license plate number. If this is a traveling sales crew the license plate will most likely be from out of state.

6) If the sales person looks or acts hurt ask if they need help. Many of the children haven't seen their parents for a long time and may want help breaking away from the crew and the situation they are in. Tell them you know of an organization that will pay for their way home and then give them The Dedicated Memorial Parents Group phone number: 608-845-1711 or web site:

7) Above all be careful and do not buy the product they are selling unless you have checked to make sure everything is on the up and up. A good practice here is to tell them to come back tomorrow. This will allow you to check their credentials and if they are not lying about being from your area they will most likely come back. In any case buying a product from a door to door sales person only helps to fuel this nightmare. Two of the ways to stop this dark and corrupt industry and end the child abuse is to not buy their product and to make sure that every teenager in this country is aware of the fowl play and dangers when getting involved with a traveling door to door sales crew.

Reproduction Or Distribution Is Prohibited Without Permission.
Copyright (c) 2003
The Dedicated Memorial Parents Group.
February 16, 2003.

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