I must admit that this has been a difficult time for me. While the fortunes related to my own cases seem to be trending in generally positive directions, the opposite seems to be the case with the cases of James Prindle and Blade Reed, Stephen Sydebotham’s victims.
This is weighing heavily on me.
Last Friday Judge Bobby Carter denied a motion for a new trial for James, and Blade has recently been confined again to solitary, where his mother tells us he is shackled all the time in an uncomfortable position on the floor. Both boys are suffering as a direct result of Sydebotham’s callous and selfish frauds.
I now understand Sydebotham’s modus operandi and how he exploits his victims. He is in love with “lost causes” because of the sympathy—and donations—they can elicit.
He charms his victims’ parents into signing a notarized “temporary guardianship agreement” which is not confirmed by any court but is apparently sufficient to fool lazy prison and jail administrators into allowing him to act as a youth’s legal guardian. Thereafter Sydebotham’s every move is designed to isolate the youth from his family and others and thereby cultivate a dependency of the youth on him exclusively.
When it comes to the selection of legal counsel, I see now that Sydebotham and I were on completely different pages. I always seek out lawyers with a reputation of being the best. Sydebotham, on the other hand, selects unsuitable lawyers whom he apparently feels justified in also victimizing. For James, Sydebotham selected a DWI lawyer who some people have told us is “the worst attorney in Tennessee.” For Blade, Sydebotham selected a newly-minted real estate lawyer with a track record of 1 loss, 0 wins. Why? To preserve his “lost cause” for continued exploitation.
Like any smart entrepreneur, Sydebotham develops multiple income channels. The Redemption Project was not his exclusive source of cash for the kid cases. He cultivated donors who sent money to him directly for various purposes. For example, if he were to collect $1,000 in donations for a lawyer, he might pay $250 to the lawyer (or as little as he could get away with), and then pocket the rest.
Posing as a “youth justice advocate” was not Sydebotham’s only scam. There is ample evidence on the Internet that he is highly involved in “cash gifting” schemes, a variation on pyramid Ponzi frauds presented to suckers as a “completely legal” get-rich-quick scheme that takes advantage of loopholes in the IRS code. Contrary to all claims, cash gifting networks are completely illegal in Wisconsin and most other jurisdictions. We have found evidence on the Internet and through at least one third-party interview that Sydebotham and the local sheriff are linked through one of these cash gifting schemes—and that Sauk County Sheriff Chip Meister is, in fact, allegedly “in Sydebotham’s receiving line.”
We continue to make progress in our efforts to uncover and understand Sydebotham’s crimes so that he will one day pay for them in full measure. We now understand why law enforcement in Sydebotham’s home county has been protecting him, but local law enforcement is no longer an insurmountable impediment. They (as well as Sydebotham) are now the objects of outside scrutiny.
I have no way of predicting how long Seidebotham and his cronies are going to be consuming our time and attention and bringing me down. Even when they are ancient history, though, there will be other predators and miscreants who will appear on the scene. I am resigning myself to the fact that such creeps will always be a factor in my life and work.
Groove of the Day