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DeSoto Chamber of Commerce heads to court over corruption and theft charges

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In 2012 the city of DeSoto experienced its very first 10-day music festival. The DeSoto SolJazz Festival, produced by Gemstone Management & Consulting, occurred June 1-10 and highlighted the musical talents of local and national artists. Patrons enjoyed daily concerts at the DeSoto amphitheater, happy hours at local restaurants and a large concert on the last day of the festival featuring hip hop legends Doug E. Fresh and MC Lyte, soul funk band Cameo, Pieces of a Dream, Rachelle Ferrell and more than 35 local artists and musicians. The festival welcomed more than 3,000 patrons for its 20 plus events from all over the Dallas metropolitan areas as well as from out of state.

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“The events were successful as a whole, the marketing was superb, and the word was out”, said Michelle McCurry an attendee and supporter of the music festival.

Unfortunately, Gemstone Management’s CEO Meredith Capleton, honorable Navy veteran, has yet to receive full payment from the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, which managed the budget for the DeSoto SolJazz Festival. Capleton reported in the article Lawsuit filed as DeSoto Chamber of Commerce refuses to pay for music festival (Sept. 11, 2012) by LyTesia Jackson that members of the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce believed that they potentially netted a loss which made them feel that they could withhold Gemstone’s expense recovery, commission and sub-contractor payouts and divide it out as they saw fit. The only problem with that is the contract signed between the two entities clearly states that Gemstone Management will incur no expenses and that all expenses are the Chambers’.

“We were not and have never been investors for the DeSoto SolJazz Festival,” says Capleton. “We were hired to market DeSoto, get travelers from all over, manage the events, book artist and conduct business on the behalf of DeSoto. All W-9s and checks were written directly and deposited in the Chamber’s name.”

Capleton has endured $75,000 in losses in expense recovery, sub payouts and sponsor commissions, which has been verified with receipts and verified invoices from outside sources. To date the Chamber has refused to pay and now Gemstone Management is now prepping for trial after it originally filed charges in September 2012 for breach of contract, slander, libel, business disparagement and fraud, among other corrupt activities. Capleton immediately went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the DeSoto Police Department to report the theft. Capleton reports that she has audio files of several chamber members reporting how they were keeping money for themselves and prepping each other for what would be said if approached about the contract issues.

The trial, which is open to the public, is set to happen on Tues., Jan. 28, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. at the George Allen Courts Building, 5th Floor, Suite 585, Dallas, TX in County Court-At-Law No. 4.

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