Wednesday, December 19, 2018

After alleging I had committed extortion, Brandon Guttery (of U of Alabama and Keystone Financial) changes his tone from accusatory to apologetic

Brandon and David Guttery
After Day One of my conversation with University of Alabama senior Brandon Guttery -- focusing on his wealth-manager father (David Guttery, of Keystone Financial Group in Trussville, AL) and his appearance as a paying customer at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site -- I didn't expect our back-and-forth to continue. But it did the next morning -- and the tone immediately turned ugly.

When Day Two of our communications was complete, I did a little research on young Mr. Guttery and discovered he was not quite the innocent college student he claimed to be. For one, he's a senior, not an underclassmen. And he has worked as an intern for his father's company -- possibly for every summer of college. In an August 7 Facebook post, David Guttery had praise for his son's work at Keystone Financial:

As the summer holiday draws to a close, I would like to recognize, and thank my intern ( and son ), Brandon Guttery, for a fantastic job. Wishing all the best for a successful senior year at The University of Alabama!

That raised my hackles a bit and caused me to question Brandon Guttery's claim that he was just interested in learning the "truth." My hackles were raised even further when the younger Guttery's tone changed and suggested he had an ulterior motive all along. Here is his first Day Two email, at 11:38 a.m. on Oct. 10:

Rodger (sic):

You wrote that piece in retaliation of a business deal that did not go your way.

Then tried to smear his name and demand compensation for your silence.

My only regret is believing you had told the whole truth, which now I have learned you did not.

Let this be our final correspondence, and know this: Omission based reporting, geared to fit a desired narrative, is why journalists are not trustworthy anymore.

May your blog be the height of your reach.

Geez, does this kid have multiple personalities? If so, how many does he have? I decided, "If this sprout wants a tussle, he's come to the right place. Bring it on, dude." My response to Brandon G:

Beware of making false accusations against people. They can come back to bite you.

Sounds like you are developing into quite the con artist. Not surprised about that.

And you are an expert on trustworthiness?

BTW, what business deal are you talking about? I have no idea, and I doubt you do either.

In another curious twist, young Mr. Guttery decided -- for the first of several times -- to invoke God's name. To borrow a phrase from Tina Turner . . . "What's God got to do with it?"

I would offer the same advice to you, Rodger (sic).

I only wanted truth, and I have reason to believe you told a partial truth. One that benefits you, and you alone.

May God guide you.

That left me a few openings, so I decided to take them -- especially since it now appeared Brandon Guttery likely had ill intentions when he initiated our conversation:

So, you admit my post is accurate. You claim something is "partial," but you don't say what that is. Again, I'm not aware of a "business deal" I've ever been in that involves your father in any way. Apparently, you aren't aware of such a "deal," either.

If you only wanted the truth, why did you attempt to pull a con job on me? You weren't truthful from the outset of our communication, and I suspected that was the case.

Based on your own words, it appears your father has concocted these false accusations about me and shared them with you -- a third party. That would point to possible defamation. You and your father might want to study up on defamation law. Again, beware.

Hmmm . . . now we were talking in the legal realm, and it soon became clear that Brandon Guttery was out of his depth:

Defemation (sic) pertains to going public with falsified information with intent to cause damage to another, something I had thought you would be aware of given your past judicial involvements.

I host no blog, nor am I going public anywhere. I wanted truthful information, I did not receive what I wanted, so as far as I am concerned this matter is over.

Once again, may God guide you through life.

I started to smell a Trump supporter here. What is it with suburban white people and God anyway? They seem to know little about God and even less about the law -- just like Trump himself. Hell, the kid can't even spell "defamation":

You need to bone up on defamation law. Based on your own words, it appears your father has falsely accused me of a crime called extortion (a felony) and that points to something called "defamation per se." It's serious business. Look it up.

Young Mr. Guttery seemed to sense that the water was getting up under his neck, and he needed to swim to shore:


You are correct, this is a very serious point. Which is precisely why I will never make public anything we have spoken of today, be it verbally or in a written format. If I ever did such an act without evidence to corroborate what I said, you would have every right to bring your case before a court of law.

You and I might disagree quite a bit, however I hold no interest in defaming the name of someone else. I have stated what I believe, and it will remain private to the day I draw my final breath.

You assume much about my words. There is a certain saying about them, as I’m sure you are aware.

So I would like to once again propose we leave this matter here. Given none of this information is public, there has been no damage to your reputation or your societal appearance (or “face” if you will).

God bless you, Roger.

There's the infernal God stuff again. Does he want God to "guide" me or to "bless" me. Maybe he wants God to guide me into the path of a blessed 18-wheeler. I was confused about the other-worldly stuff, but I was clear-headed on the law:

Your own words suggest you've discussed these false allegations against me with someone. And your reference to a "business deal" suggests that person is your father -- even though you apparently can't point to any such "business deal." That's not assuming anything; it's right there in your own words.

I'm not saying you've defamed me, but I'm saying your own words indicate someone, likely your father, has made statements to you that falsely accuse me of a crime (extortion), and that points to possible defamation per se. You and your father really need to educate yourselves about defamation law. The issue is whether a false and defamatory statement has been "published" (verbally or in writing) to a third party (you, in this case). Whether it has been "made public" is not part of the law.

As for your proposal to "leave this matter here," you should have thought of that before opening up this hornet's nest. I will deal with it as I see fit, but you and your father should know I take it seriously when someone falsely accuses me of a crime. I also take it seriously when someone contacts me under false pretenses. I responded to your queries with patience and respect, only to learn you were pulling a con game all along.

No matter how many times you say "God bless you," the truth is that you dealt with me dishonestly from the start. You might try looking in the mirror on that one.

With that, Brandon Guttery seemed to realize that it was a good time to get out of Dodge:

Roger...I’m sorry.

I’m just a college kid who thinks he knows more than he does. I know that seems like a cop out...I wish I could rewind the past 24 hours. But I can’t.

When I first emailed you, I was truly curious. My father had never discussed that matter with me. I then got angry after asking my family about it, and didn’t think.

You have every reason to not like me, and every reason to not believe what I’m saying in this writing. And you’re right. I do need a look in the mirror.

From the bottom of my heart...I’m sorry.

You’ll never have to deal with me again.

I give Brandon Guttery credit for saying he was sorry. He owed me an apology, and while a lot of people aren't big enough to do that, he stepped up to the plate and apologized. Does that mean I'm dropping the defamation matter? Not necessarily. I'm going to think about it and conduct some research on the issue. I left young Mr. Guttery with this:

I don't believe you when you say your father has never discussed this with you and falsely accused me of a crime. I take my reputation seriously, and I take legal wrongs against me seriously.

Whether I deal with you -- and your father -- again is up to me.


Anonymous said...

Not sure what this young man thought he was going to accomplish by contacting you.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:00 --

Me, either. Things seemed to go OK on his first stab at communicating with me, but it appears he might have gotten some bad advice that evening, and things got choppy the next day, on his second communication.

Anonymous said...

I have to give young Brandon credit for two things:

(1) He did apologize, and as you state, a lot of people would not have.

(2) You tried to teach him a little about defamation law, and he apparently was receptive to trying to understand that. A lot of folks would have scoffed at your efforts, but he didn't.

He might be a winger, but I don't think he's a lost cause at all. I see signs of integrity there.

Anonymous said...

I don't see where he accused you of extortion.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:35 --

He did not use the term "extortion." But I would point you to this from his email:

"You wrote that piece in retaliation of a business deal that did not go your way.

Then tried to smear his name and demand compensation for your silence."

That is a textbook definition of extortion, especially the second sentence. Plus, it's not remotely true.

Some jurisdictions have a blackmail statute and use that term. Pretty sure Alabama uses the term extortion, rather than blackmail. I'm in Missouri at the moment, and I'm not sure how state law handles here.

Either way, it's a crime, probably a felony, and it's not a good idea to falsely accuse someone of it.

Anonymous said...

What is the statute of limitations on a defamation case in Alabama?

legalschnauzer said...

@12:01 --

The SOL is two years. Of course, I'm in Missouri at the moment, so jurisdiction might lie here. That is a tricky issue, and I would have to do some research on it to understand better. The SOL on defamation in Missouri also is two years, I believe -- though I'm not certain.

Anonymous said...

So, you have time to think about what you are going to do?

legalschnauzer said...

That's correct. At the moment, I doubt I will take any legal action on the Guttery deal. The main point of the post is, hopefully, to help educate folks that it's a bad idea to contact someone you don't know and accuse them of committing a crime.

Another key point about defamation law: Brandon Guttery could contact me directly and accuse me of all kinds of things -- being a terrorist, listening to Slim Whitman albums, only bathing once a month, etc. -- and it would not be defamatory. The key is publishing (using that term broadly) false information to a third party, not just to me.

In other words, I doubt there is anything actionable against Brandon Guttery. His words, however, suggest there might be something actionable against his father. Unless I learn something more regarding facts, I doubt I will pursue anything against either.

e.a.f. said...

Having read both articles now, I would question if this were written by an American. There is something going on, don't know what, but I'd watch out. My suggestion is do nothing and the next time you get an email, written in this style, just hit the delete key. This is truly weird. Given what is going on in the U.S.A. these day's I'd ignore these types of e-mails.

Lets put it this way, I am a tad suspicious by nature. With your "old friend Sessions" perhaps trying for a run at something, which would most likely cause you to write some very interesting stuff, some body might be up to something.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

I have a lot of respect for your insights, and you certainly have some interesting thoughts on this. It had not occurred to me that: (a) Someone other than Brandon Guttery might have written these emails to me; (2) Someone might have put Brandon Guttery up to writing these email, for some ulterior purpose; (3) Someone who is not even American might have written them.

That last one is particularly curious, given that the tone and writing style is peculiar. Are there certain phrases that jump out at you as sounding "un-American"?

I said at 12:37 that I likely would not pursue legal action on this, but I might change my mind, especially if I see more signs that this was an attempted snow job, with likely input from a third party. Going to keep an eye on it.

e.a.f. said...

I've sent an e-mail letter outlining my thoughts. Given what is happening to day around the world, with disrupters of western countries' democracies, I would expect them to have a go at any number of blogs.

Canadians and Americans speak English, but its different, or as an Englishman once wrote about the Brits and Americans, from a common mother divided by a language. Even within Canada, we have differences in language and not just English and French. If you speak with some one from the Maritimes, especially, NFLD, major differences.

When people learn another language, they frequently do not change the "flow" of the speech pattern.

So when we look at your history, sued by politicians who didn't like what you wrote, "arrested" and tossed in jail for 5 months and beaten before that, who knows what could happen.

As we used to say in the Labour movement, just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean it isn't happening to you.