Archive for October, 2011

Yellow Pages United: The Story You Need to Read

October 24, 2011

Last summer, Yellow Pages United was attacked by the federal government and falsely accused of several unsubstantiated misdeeds. The charges were dropped a month later after US attorneys realized that no crimes had ever been committed. The official press release and follow-up news story are included below.

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – United Directories, doing business as Yellow Pages United, has operated as a reputable Jacksonville company, employing many of our citizens, for the last 11 years. Unfortunately, the innocent conduct of this fine company and its officers was not properly investigated by the government – prior to the arrest of three of its officers.

After that arrest, with the full cooperation of the company, the government was able to comprehend that United Directories truly operates a legitimate company, delivering a valuable and honest product to its customers. Based on that further investigation, on August 6, 2010, the government filed a motion to dismiss all charges, and has agreed to return all the property and bank accounts that were seized in early July of that year.

What the government learned, based on our cooperation, and what led to the unusual step of the government dismissing all charges, included the following:

1. The solicitation form used by United Directories to invite businesses to consider placing an ad in their national directory is an honest form, without any misrepresentations, and has been vetted by multiple Attorney Generals around the country, including Florida, and is a form that has been in compliance with a Texas State Order (entered into in cooperation with the Texas Attorney General’s Office) for the last 7 years.

2. Not only is the solicitation form in compliance with that Texas order, but it is also in 100% compliance with Postal Service regulations themselves. Those regulations say we should put in one of two notices in our solicitation form. We put in both – a fact unfortunately omitted by the Postal Investigator who sought the arrest of our clients.

3. The directories published by United Directories are a fine quality product, delivered at a very economical price, that create business opportunities for its clients to expand their businesses, and recruit new business.

4. United Directories, for the last 7 years, retained one of the finest law firms in the nation to advise them as to the various laws and regulations that apply to such solicitations – and they followed that advice to the letter. The Postal Investigator failed to report that information in the arrest affidavit she filed, and failed to contact that law firm, even though that law firm previously had multiple contacts with Postal Inspectors – including a high ranking Postal Inspector in Atlanta (the office where these charges emanated) – to discuss with them the same solicitation form that was the improper subject of this prosecution, and to answer their questions. Those prior investigations, in both Jacksonville and Atlanta, were closed, in 2005 and 2007 – but that too was omitted from the affidavit filed to obtain the arrest of our clients.

5. The Postal Investigator failed to properly read bank statements, and incorrectly reported that United Directories received some $425M in revenue in a 5 year period, when the true figure was about $50M – of which some $21M was spent in postage alone – thus making United Directories one of the best Postal Service customers in Jacksonville.

Our real message here is that truly innocent and decent men and women were arrested, and, as grateful as we are the government has corrected that error, it is important that the damage done to them and their business be mitigated, as much as possible, by the honest reporting of the media, informing the public that these charges have been promptly dismissed, and the company will continue operating and providing its valuable and honest services.

We’ve put this painful chapter behind us and continued to operate lawfully and with the interests of our customers in mind. Read more about charges being dropped against Yellow Pages United and the false scam accusations.