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have roots in the community? Or is he loose, likely to take off?” Speaking of taking off, one of Mr. French’s clients, Mrs. Elisabeth Riggan, won a large default judgment against the Fort Worth corporation, Fred Astaire Studio Enterprises, Inc. $243,000 from the corporation and $208,000 from its owners, Raymond Sonnier and his wife Johnnie. That was Dec. 4, 1970. Mrs. Riggan has yet to see her money. The Sonniers departed Fort Worth and sought a cooler climate in Chicago. They filed a bankruptcy petition listing among their creditors Milledge McConnico, attorney. “I represented them in some corporate matters and with the franchise, not the Riggan case,” said Mr. McConnico. “I read about the default in the paper. The assets of their corporation were sold to another corporation in exchange for an agreement by the purchasers to pay withholding and other taxes. My recollection is that the corporation was substantially in debt.” Reached by telephone in Chicago \(at a Sonnier said, “I’ll just make one statement. I lost more money than anyone else, more money than any plaintiff against me in any suit in Texas. I took a chance and lost it.” Asked for clarification, he said, “I lost it in the costs of the operation. Undercapitalization, they call it.” Undercapitalization or no, the Sonniers did not lack skill in matters of credit, according to Marshall Riggan. “When we started to pressure Sonnier, he gave us $20,000 in a negotiable note he’d gotten some woman to sign over to the studio; so in order to cash it, we would be forced to make this other woman pay off.” Will Raymond and Johnnie Sonnier ever have to pay the judgment? “We filed a petition in the bankruptcy hearing,” said Mr. Riggan, “asking the referee not to let our debt be cleared because it resulted from fraudulent conduct. We plan to see it _ through, but it is very discouraging, like fighting with a pillow. They don’t fight back, but when you go to collect, they step aside. You have to have a lot of money, or they have to make a big mistake. Initially we were full of enthusiasm, but even those within the legal system get beaten down by the way it’s structured. The Raymond Sonniers come and go. But the businessmen behind it stay. They can get rid of their problems by pushing pieces of paper around. You close it down but it doesn’t disappear. It stays open even when it’s closed down.” Criminal Indictments. It’s always possible that complaints about your operation might be brought to the attention of a district attorney. On Jan. 31, 1972, two of the Sonniers’ former Fort Worth colleagues, Byron H. Rider and Barbara Rider, have a date with San Antonio District Attorney Ted Butler. The Riders, whose dance studio corporation, Educational Investments, Inc., moved from Fort Worth to San Antonio in 1969, will face charges of theft by false pretext and conspiracy to commit theft by false pretext. “People came in with complaints, so we investigated and found that lonely elderly people were being taken unconscionable advantage of,” says D. A. Butler, “A grand jury indicted them once. We tried it, but a witness made an improper statement about a threat and a mistrial was declared. So we’ll try them again.” The testimony that caused the mistrial came from Mrs. Emma Grohman, whose expenditure at the Riders’ Fred Astaire Studio was close to $30,000. She was asked by prosecuting attorney Marvin Zimmerman to describe a series of lessons. Her reply included the following statement about Paul Pierce: “One of my instructors came to me in the middle of the night, at two o’clock in the morning and demanded $5,000 from me for a gambling debt, which he promised to pay back. I objected and objected, but he said his life was threatened and also asked me if I had ever been or even seen anyone pistol-whipped.” Reports like these may be disturbing to you and your colleagues at Bilkmore Ballroom Enterprises. But there are two stable factors favoring your ability to prosper according to plan. One is the legal system. Any civil lawyer bringing suit against you has a complicated and difficult task under the existing laws. He has to show false representation of material fact, show that the client did not know it was false, that the client acted as if the misrepresentation were true and that he was damaged. The government’s legal. powers sound impressive, but using them involves manpower that may or may not be assigned. And note that there is little incentive, other than being a good citizen, for civil lawyers to work closely with government investigators, unless they have some prospect of getting the client’s money back. The other element in your favor is the reluctance of most of your potential opponents in legal action to admit to themselves \(and to family members and that they’ve been taken. Imagine yourself sitting down in a lawyer’s office \(or the how you wrote out checks for thousands of hours of dancing lessons, how you worried about whether you could pass some bogus contest, how flattered you were to be told that an elite group wanted you to join, how you helped persuade other new club prospects that they should pay thousands of dollars to join too, how you handed over your blue chip portfolio to be re-invested in a corporation where Armadillo Consciousness has penetrated that citadel of Eastern urbanity, The New Yorker. In its Dec. 11 “Talk of the Town” column, artist Jim Franklin \(see Observer covers Jan. 8 habits of the state’s oldest mammals. The New Yorker asked Franklin, in town for a show at the Whitney Museum which included one of his works, if he had any plans for the future of Armadillo Art. ” … He told us about a grandiose scheme,” the magazine reported. “I’m trying to talk some museum into letting me fill a room with four to six inches of dirt, stock it with worms, and bring an armadillo up from Texas and let it crawl around in the dirt for a week or two and draw lines with its tail,’ ” Franklin said. ” ‘It would make an endless erratic, paternless line. It would work similar to the way Jackson Pollock worked. The same thing is involved random motion with a very distinct, coherent motivation. Of course, I’d take it back to Texas just as soon as it was finished with its show.’ ” IDA PRESS 504 West 24th Multi copy service. Calr 477-8351 you had no vote, saw no financial statements, had nothing but verbal assurances that you would make money, that the studio was “doing well.” People are more likely to slink home quietly than have the fortitude to publicly state they’ve been damaged. This is not to say that someone won’t think of new legislation, or that running a dance studio does not involve hard work and long hours. You have to stay ahead of the game: You have to be resourceful, dedicated, skillful and mobile. If you are all of these things, if you know how to dance and can learn to shave with your eyes closed, you just might qualify. NOTES 1Federal Trade Commission Docket No. 8776, Arthur Murray Studios: Of Washington, Inc. Baltimore, Inc. Bethesda, Inc, and Silver Spring, Inc., corporations and Victor F. Horst and Edward Marandola also known as Edward Mara, individually and as officers of said corporations Feb. 23, 1971. Appeal now before U.S. 5th Circuit Court. 2Case #F-241237 37th Judicial District, San Antonio. Filed October 1, 1971. 3Elisabeth Riggan vs Raymond Sonnier, Johnnie Sonnier, and Fred Astaire Studio Enterprise, Inc. U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division CA-4-1503 Filed July 20, 1970, Judgment $243,000 4Federal Trade Commission Docket No. 8560 Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Washington, D.C., Inc., a corporation, and Patrick W. Arabia, Eugene T. Valentine, Lea W. Peclet individually and as officers of said corporation and George J. Strombos, individually and as manager of said corporation, and Fred Astaire Dance Studios Corporation, a corporation, Feb. 28, 1964. 5Case #190-618 Mrs. John P. Boyd vs R&J Inc. et al 53rd Judicial District, Austin. Filed Sept. 2, 1971. 6