Traveling Door-to-Door Sales Van Rollovers
Dedicated To Presenting The Violence, Crime, Fraud, Human Trafficking and Exploitation
that have turned the Traveling door-to-door Magazine Sales Industry into a National Tragedy.
Van Rollover Kills One
DMPG Posted 05/21/13
Magazine Sales Compamy: Fit For Life
Principal: Marsha Covey (Customer Service)
Mr. Jess Covey (Field Manager)
Mr. Joseph N. Covey (Owner)
Victim: Elizabeth L. York
In Loving Memory
07/07/83 - 10/24/2012
Van Driver: Dustin J. McCaulley
License Status: invalid-suspended.
New Mexico State Police Case Number: 12-225122
Date of Accident/Death: 10/24/12
Location: Interstate 25 Milepost 372
County: Mora, New Mexico
Vehicle: 1999 Ford Van
Colorado License Plate: 390188h
June 22, 2011: Interstate 86, near American Falls, Idaho
Magazine Sales Crew: LTP Inc.
11 mag crew agents are packed into an 10 year old 8 passenger vehicle.
Driver allegedly asleep at the wheel. All 19-22 years old.
Todd Shugart, Kevin Lewis, Christopher Middleton, Zackery Spencer
Fifteen people were crammed into the 1992 Chevrolet Suburbanwhen it rolled over on a lonely stretch of U.S. Highway 666 about five milesnorth of Shiprock, N.M., just before noon last Sept. 20. Two teenage girls were killed.
Brandy Korba, 19, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Alicia Gerandt, 18, of Columbus, Ga., were ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.The Suburban had seats for eight and seatbelts for six.
The New Mexico State Patrol’s accident report identified the passengers as employees of a magazine sales company, Atlantic Circulation Inc.,of Mountville, Penn. The employees were headed to Farmington after soliciting magazine subscriptions in Cortez.
The Shiprock crash was not the first involving an Atlantic Circulation sales crew. Less than a year earlier, on Sept. 28, 2001, a 20-year-old man was killed and seven others injured near Minneapolis when thedriver of their van apparently fell asleep and rear-ended a car at high speedbefore rolling over several times, ejecting some passengers.
The magazine subscription sales industry has become one of the deadliest for young people nationwide. A Milwaukee man whose daughter was killed has tallied 53 deaths associated with traveling magazine sales crews. Most ofthe deaths have been crew members, but a few were customers or others whoen countered violent crew members or were hit by a crew vehicle.
In addition, the father, Phil Ellenbecker, said there have been numerous rapes, beatings and abandonments of workers. Reports of abominable living conditions abound, he said, including crowded motel rooms with noprivacy, food being withheld for poor sales performance and intimidation.
"Traveling youth crews" is ranked among the worst five jobs for teens, based on injuries and deaths, by the National Consumers League,a 104-year-old organization that represents interests of consumers and workers.
A New York-based watchdog group – Parent Watch – is mounting a nationwide campaign to call attention to what it alleges are deceptive campaigns to recruit young people to work in an unregulated and dangerous industry.
"The crime rate inside crews has skyrocketed," said Earlene Williams, the director of Parent Watch. Williams tracks the operation of the door-to-door industry and documents its labor abuses. "There are many innocent kids caught up in this."
Most recently, a van carrying 11 Atlantic Circulation salespeople flipped on an icy stretch of Interstate 15 near Butte, Mont., in February. Several passengers sustained minor injuries. The 18-year-old driver was cited for drunken driving, careless driving and driving without a license.
Williams blames Atlantic and others in the industry for indiscriminate hiring and turning a blind eye to abuses.
Tom King, a lawyer in Wichita, Kan., represents the Gerandt family and three surviving passengers in the Shiprock accident.
"These are fly-by-night operations. ... Atlantic Circulation accepts no responsibility," King said in a phone interview. Atlantic maintains that the victims in the Shiprock accident were not company employees but worked for an independent contractor.
According to the accident report, the Suburban was registered to Michelle R. Sanchez, of Atlantic Circulation.
Despite the information in the report, Laura Potter, a spokeswoman for Atlantic Circulation, said the vehicle did not belong to the company.
"We don’t own any vehicles," Potter said in a phone conversation. She said the Suburban belonged to a distributor and that she had forwarded the Herald’s request for an interview to him.
"He should contact you," she said. She would notidentify the man, and he never called despite repeated requests through Atlantic. Potter refused further comment on the Shiprock accident.
On its Web site, Atlantic Circulation describes itself as"a processing center for direct sales orders of products including magazine subscriptions."
King said he plans to sue but is unsure a lawsuit will succeed.
"We are worried about suing them and their folding up theirtent and moving to another state," he said. "... We are researching this to determine how best to proceed. ... There was not a lick of insurance onthe vehicle."
Nor was there insurance on the workers.
Industry out of control
Parent Watch says problems with Atlantic are typical of anindustry out of control, rife with abuses.
Parent Watch was founded in 1983 by five families, all of whom,Williams said, had a child fall prey to deceptive recruitment by traveling salescrews.
"Today Parent Watch is still a service provided by families and ex-sales people, and there are members in most states who are working to bring this dangerous phenomenon to public attention," Williams said.
Her goal is to keep pressure on subscription companies.
"They just have to know that every time they turn around they see you right behind them," she said. "We just try to help the cases as they come up ... to help families and young people in trouble. We don’tlook too much beyond that."
At any given time, Parent Watch estimates, as many as 15,000 to30,000 young people are involved in door-to-door magazine subscription sales inthis country. In a year’s time, more than 100,000 youngsters are involved.
The business has increased in recent years. The economy is down,no-call lists have curbed telemarketing, and magazine publishers are anxious to gain subscribers because advertising rates are tied to circulation. Billions of dollars are at stake.
"It’s big," said Ellenbecker, the Milwaukee father."It’s a silent killer of teens and young adults ... sales by exploitation. The recruiters are ruthless and are not in the business of childsafety."
Ellenbecker’s daughter was killed, along with six others, inthe 1999 crash of a magazine sales crew van in Wisconsin. Four others suffered permanent disabilities.
The van’s driver, whose license had been revoked, wasattempting to swap seats with a passenger while being pursued at high speed bypolice. The replacement driver, not yet seated, lost control.
The Shiprock accident report said Jaime R. Miller, then 25, of Clovis, N.M., was driving the full-size sports utility vehicle – on bald tires– when he lost control after the blowout of a rear tire.
"The two deceased girls were still on the ground when I got there," said the investigating officer, New Mexico State Police Patrolman Paul Gonzales. One passenger, Steve Rouse, with a head injury, had been flown to a Phoenix hospital before Gonzales arrived.
Gonzales said in his report that "all four tires on theSuburban ... were lacking tread (bald) and had dry rot on the sidewalls."He estimated that the Suburban was traveling at about 80 mph. The speed limit onthat stretch of road was 55 mph.
Miller was cited for careless driving (speed too fast forconditions), having no insurance, and driving an unsafe vehicle. Alcohol was not thought to be involved.
Magistrate Court records in Aztec indicate that Miller failed to appear on the citations. He was fined $100. A warrant was issued for his arrest,and his driver’s license was suspended. The case remains open.
Gonzales said that during his investigation he talked by phonewith Terri Miller, of Dodge City, Kan., whom he identified as the sister-in-lawof the driver. She told Gonzales that a representative of Atlantic Circulationhad told the crew that they would have to earn new tires by selling moresubscriptions. That never happened.
"It seems to me that the company was responsible for atleast part of it," Gonzales said in a phone interview. "She (Sanchez)was aware these tires were not in the best of shape."
Life on the road
The Herald obtained a statement by a young woman from Montana who worked on a sales crew in 2000 and 2001. She asked to remain anonymous. In the document, the transcript of an oral statement given to ParentWatch, she detailed her life on the road.
"About 75 percent, easily, of the sales agents had bad backgrounds," she said. "If you were an angel, you weren’t on crew. There were always a few that were on probation at any given time, and they were just kept with us. It wasn’t even a big deal. ...
"Managers did drugs all the time. I personally saw all them anagers do pot, mushrooms, acid, Ecstasy. Kids could get in on it. A manager would let anybody have stuff or drink with them if you’d had a good (sales)day. You didn’t have to be 21. ...
"I left because I was pregnant. ... My manager was mad. He had so many people trying to talk me into staying, but I know this manipulative pitch – I used to give it to people myself."
She said sex was a tool used to keep people on crew."Putting people over," it was called.
"On crews you don’t look at this as prostitution; it’s just your job. It’s what you do."
Ellenbecker said efforts to reform the door-to-door industryhave fallen short. He, Williams and the parents they represent and support hopethe courts will re-examine the relationship of the field workers, the distributors and the clearinghouses.
"This has been very well plotted over the years,"Ellenbecker said. The clearinghouses "are using ‘independent contractors’to protect themselves from legal liability against a customer or a member of thesales crew. They say, ‘We don’t have anything to do with that. They don’twork for us.’ We’ve heard that time and again."
He added, "The independent contractor concept has been athorn in everyone’s side for quite awhile. The courts are starting to seethrough this."
Innocence, lives lost
Although Brandy Rose "Sweetpea" Korba was only 19, shewas no newcomer to traveling sales crews. She had been working on crews aroundthe country for five years. Among her survivors is her 2-year-old son, BryceAaron Korba. Brandy’s mother, Monica, who declined to be interviewed, iscaring for the child.
Alicia Gerandt had earned her GED and had stopped smoking and drinking. She wanted to go to college.
Her mother, Ruby Gerandt, said Alicia was "a very intelligent little girl."
"She was the idol of my heart ... God’s gift to me,"Mrs. Gerandt said in a telephone interview from Columbus, Ga.
Alicia started working with the Atlantic Circulation crew in February 2002, looking for adventure and a chance to earn some money for college.
"She did great," Mrs. Gerandt said. "She coached others who worked with them on how to get by."
She described the crowded, unsafe living conditions that Aliciatold her about and said she would have tried to talk her out of staying with the crew if she had known of the risks sooner.
"She wanted to take care of herself – on her own,"Mrs. Gerandt said.
Mrs. Gerandt talked with her daughter less than two hours beforethe accident. Four hours later, she was notified of her daughter’s death.
She is bitter.
"I am one hurt woman, and I am mad," she said. "I’dlike to see them (traveling sales operations) closed down nationwide. I’ll do anything in my power to stop them. ... They hurt a lot of innocent kids."
The approximate location of the Sept. 20, 2002, fatal accident north of Shiprock, N.M., is shown in this photo taken Monday. U.S. Highway 666 is in the background.
Shiprock is visible through haze to the south of the accident site, where this picture was taken Monday.
Information Jump Links:
Magazine Company/s Responsible
February 5, 2000 Trinity County California
This Ford Explorer, shown at the Trinity County office of the California Highway Patrol,
went over an 80-foot cliff on February 5, 2000 killing Scott Tarwater and Crystal Mahathy
Magazine Sales Crew: Senner Sales: Driver/Manager: George Frederick Senner IV
Magazine Sales company/Clearinghouse: All Star Promotions Inc.: Owner: Russel Wood
March 25, 1999: Interstate 39, near Janesville, Wisconsin
Magazine Sales Crew: Y.E.S. aka: Subscriptions Plus
Van Rollover kills 7 young kids and maimes 5 for life.
Peter Christman, Cory Hanson, Amber Marie Lettman, Crystal Faith McDaniel,
Marshall Lee Roberts, Malinda Lillian Turvey, Joseph Wild
Maimed for Life:
Monica Forgues, Shawn Kelly, Nicole McDougal, Craig Fetcher, Staci M. Beck
In Loving Memory
Amber Marie Lettman
Crystal Faith McDaniel
Marshall Lee Roberts
Malinda Lillian Turvey
Information Jump Links:
Magazine Company/s Responsible
Jeremy A. Holmes:
7 counts of Vehicular Homicide
5 counts of Reckless Driving Causing Great Bodily Harm
Interference With The custody of a Child
Obstructing an Officer
Contributing to Truancy
Malinda's Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act Becomes Law In The State of Wisconsin
Channel3000 Madison, Wisconsin; March 24, 2009
Internet Explorer Users
May 4, 1992
Van Overturns on I-80 in Iowa; Five People Killed, Six Injured
Location: Interstate 80 West of Des Moines, Iowa
A van carrying 11 people swerved out of control and overturned Sunday along Interstate 80. Five of the people died, and the other six were injured. All but two of the occupants were thrown from the van when it rolled, the Iowa State Patrol said. The van strewed debris for 50 yards along the highway before coming to rest in the median. State troopers said the eastbound van went out of control as it was passing another vehicle just west of Earlham in Dallas County. Dr. Francis Garrity, deputy Iowa medical examiner, said the van was one of three that were traveling together from Denver to Chicago. The occupants worked for a company called Total Dedication Inc., Dr. Garrity said. Killed were Edward Gooden, 20, of Chicago; Mark Campbell, 26, of Chesapeake, Va.; Debbie Gibbs, 33, of Philadelphia; Daniel Holloway, 20, of Los Angeles; and Christopher McKee, 24, of Virginia Beach, Va. Gooden died at Mercy Hospital Medical Center in Des Moines, Dr. Garrity said. The others died at the scene, he said. Five of the injured were hospitalized in Des Moines. They were identified as Chakita Ross, 26, of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Tina Allen, 28, of New York City; David Ross, 27, of Gary, Ind.; Michael Atkins, 30, of Chicago; and the driver, Starretha Ball, 29, of Philadelphia. Esther Nappi, whose age and address were not available, was treated and released.
Omaha World - Herald; Omaha, Neb.; May 4, 1992;
Total Dedication Inc. aka: American Community Services.
end DMPG Info.
Information Jump Links:
Magazine Company/s Responsible
Dedicated Memorial Parents Group
Seven Young Kids Killed And Five Maimed For Life
Janesville Van Rollover March 25, 1999
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Peter Christman, Cory Hanson, Amber Marie Lettman, Crystal Faith McDaniel, Marshall Lee Roberts, Malinda Lillian Turvey, Joseph Wild, Monica Forgues, Shawn Kelly, Nicole McDougal, Craig Fetcher, Staci M. Beck, Edward Gooden, Mark Campbell, Debbie Gibbs, Daniel Holloway, Christopher McKee, Brandy Korba, Alicia Gerandt