Former Ataris Bassist Indicted for Running Multimillion-Dollar Real Estate Scam
Michael Davenport, the bassist best known for his tenure in the Ataris, has been indicted on federal conspiracy and fraud charges for his role in a telemarketing real estate scam that authorities say swindled roughly $27 million out of more than 100,000 people over a seven-year span.
The Santa Barbara Independent reports that Davenport, who was a member of the Ataris from 1998-2005 and returned for a series of reunion shows in 2013-14, was arrested last month in Arkansas; he and an alleged co-conspirator, Cynthia Rawlinson, are due to be arraigned on Jan. 17 in St. Louis.
Davenport and Rawlinson's arrests came in the midst of what's being described as an ongoing investigation into the long-running scam, which purported to give potential customers access to a database of homes that had fallen into "pre-foreclosure" and could be purchased simply by agreeing to take over the previous owners' mortgage payments. Prosecutors say Davenport's company, which operated under various names but is commonly referred to as American Standard, charged $199 for the listings — which contained homes that were either not for sale or simply didn't exist at all.
Based on the Independent's findings, American Standard's victims may not have much hope of financial compensation. Although Davenport and Rawlinson are accused of bilking people out of millions, the assets listed in the report are just a small fraction of the total — the cash Davenport had on hand when he was arrested, combined with the bank-held assets authorities are freezing, amount to a little over $950,000. Now facing charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud, both defendants face prison sentences in excess of 30 years.
The Ataris - without Davenport - continue to tour and record, most recently sharing a compilation of new and previously released tracks in June of 2017 entitled Silver Turns to Rust.