When does non-delivery become a crime?

I ask this question in the hope that a legal professional audiophile will answer it, since I never figured out why my experience with a crooked dealer was never considered criminal. In the early 1990s I auditioned a pair of Wilson Watt-Puppies in a very well known HiFi store in NY state - ordered a pair and was told I needed to pay 50% deposit - $5,000 and the rest on delivery in 4 weeks. I paid. 8 weeks later nothing, so I called. Nothing. No answer. Called the police to check out the store - empty. All gone.
I called David Wilson, who was aware of the theft, since he had a lot of inventory in that store - and being the gentleman of integrity that he is, sent me the speakers less what R., the owner of the store had absconded with. I reported it to the police who told me it was a civil matter and not to bother filing charges. (I heard that R. was in Florida via various audio friends). Why was this not a crime? Similarly, when does non-delivery by a speaker manufacture of paid-for speakers become criminal? Is there a time limit after promise of delivery? Or is it always a civil matter?
P.S. Be careful of paying a deposit on any audio equipment in Florida to a guy whose name starts with an R............:):)
It might be of some interest to know who R. is so someone else doesn't get the shaft. I applaud Mr. Wilson for going above and beyond the call of duty in your situation.
Why did you not use a credit/debit card since that would have put the loss on the bank. A lesson to be heard here.
Laws in USA are designed to help buisness and screw "little people', not very complicated.
In Germany he'd go to jail.
I've had a similar experience with buying a guitar from a luthier. I paid, he never shipped. I guess that this guy also took deposits for custom instruments and never delivered. As I was trying to figure this out, I stumbled across a dealer of this luthier who was suing the guy for the same reason.

My understanding is that - provided that the business has not been granted protection under the bankruptcy code - what you described is probably criminal (you still have to prove that it was the person's intent to defraud you). However, prosecutors have discretion. In my case, I was also told to pursue a civil settlement. I guess this type of crime is low priority.

It could have been a fraud or it could have been bad business practices. Depends. More often than not a dealer will take yours and other customers deposits and use them to operate his business. If he is in financial trouble and doesn't have the money to pay the manufacturer (who probably has him on a cash basis) he can't get delivery of your speakers. He also can't pay his bills so he goes out of business in the dark.

Proving fraud though is another matter. And it is your or the police's responsibility to prove it. The police don't want to be 'wasting' their time unless there are a lot of folks in your position and are making complaints. Your didn't file a complaint and if there were others they didn't either. FWIW, you would have to show that at the time the dealer took your order and money he had no intent to deliver anything to you, ever. Tough to prove I think.

FWIW, its no crime to publish the name of this dealer, just keep your comments to facts, no conclusions however logical they may be.

Too bad............Good for Wilson!
Your transaction is contractual in nature, and therefore a civil matter unless you can prove that the dealer had an intent to defraud when you gave him the money and had no intention of providing the product. that would be theft through fraud. It is difficult to prove ones intent at a particular time, and thats why police departments try to avoid such claims. they are not there to enforce bad business decisions.
In Florida, we have a civil theft statute which allows recovery of 3 times the value of the damages, plus attorney's fees, for such actions. However, a judgment for damages is just a piece of paper and if the party is uncollectable, you only have something to frame and put up on the wall.
I suspect your payment was to a corporate entity, and not an individual. That just complicates recovery because the corporation cant go to jail, and the individual is not responsible for corporate debts.

there are particular statutes that allow for criminal penalties for diversion of funds that can be used in construction cases, for instance. I dont know the particular laws in New York.

I always use paypal or a credit card, even if I have cash, on larger purchases. Its hard to get cash back.
getting cash back with 9mm partner is a-bit easier when individual is found.
The negative: It's really a crime
The positive: It's not going to be a piece of paper :-)
It is/was a crime and a tort and the statute of limitations has long since run. The municipality elected not to pursuit it (criminally) and you elected not to pursue it civilly. Which is what R most likely counted on. Next time, pursue it.
"P.S. Be careful of paying a deposit on any audio equipment in Florida to a guy whose name starts with an R............:):)”

Hi Springbok10,
I know that your intentions are to give a guarded heads-up, but a name beginning with R in Florida is a pretty general identifier that could encompass quite a large group. Now, you really should reveal the guy’s full name so that you don’t inadvertently damage the wrong person.
Problems are: (1) I was dumb and should have paid by credit card - but he outsmarted me and insisted on a check - should have been my first clue; (2) I'm sure he has changed his name, so giving his first name will not be helpfuland I dont remeber his last name - although he was frequently written up in the Absolute Sound, as he was friendly with the reviewers and they would frequently give him a plug in the 1990s - I'm sure they all know him - - rest assured that Mr Wilson wanted him a helluva lot more than I did - he had stacks of inventory and also Krells up the kazoo - so I dont think only myself and Mr Wilson want to find him - even after the statute of limitations has passed - to ensure that he is publicly identified to the residents where he now steals.........and steals....
Phaelon, the guy's name in 1991 was Rudy (dont know last name), but you will find his full name in issues of Absolute Sound in 1991-1992, as he was known to all TAS reviewers,, as they used to frequent his huge, well-stocked HiFi store- stocked with the higest end Wilson and Krell stuff - all their most expensive lines, which, too disappeared with my $5K - so you can rest assured that Rudy changed his name as Dan D'Agastino and David Wilson have significantly deeper pockets and more substantial losses and would certainly have combed Florida for him - so I have no doubt he is some far-away place, plying his crime.....I was just kidding about a guy in Florida..........more likely Fiji, Haiti or Budapest.........Rudy was a cool operator and I am sure will not be found..........unless a concerted, expensive hunt is launched. Too bad he didnr steal from the Donald - he would find him:)
I met Rudy back in the mid 80s...he did become a famous scumball eventually, and really was well known among the Audio geekdom in the Upper Right Coast back in the day. Note to defrauded answer seekers: Almost every state has an under-utilized Attorney General's office with some sort of consumer fraud line...just waiting to answer questions just like this one.
Tpreaves, I certainly knew his name 22 years ago, but have been trying to forget it ever since. You go into a very high end salon, with speakers and amps costing the price of a car, and the salesman - do you ask every salesman for their résumé ? - Asks you for a deposit, you give it ......do YOU remember the name of every car salesman you've given more than $5,000 for a car? So cut the superior attitude .
I got screwed out of over $3000 too by this Dr Cohen guy who is a sales representative of Linn in Florida or in Cali. He promised to return me my deposit after he managed to sell the Linn Artikulat active speakers and I voluntarily gave him a year because I knew sort of knew it would be a hard sell. And I never heard back from him. I hope I have an assistant to help me pursue things like that. Maybe next time when I am more established. But trust me this will not be the end of it. I will ake sure he get screwed out of his business. What a crook! the economy is bad but it's no excuse. I don't like how people keep complaining about how the rich people are exploiting the poor but how about the well to do getting exploited too? I mean like I have so many instances where I lend people money out of mere empathy and it ended up biting me in the back, and I did not even expect them to repay me. Anyway the lack of integrity is a problem pervasive in all social stratum. Not a particular one is to blame. If only I have been more careful.
I think there is a need to put up a "Wall of Shame" sticky (not the dispute section) here on the Gon where only the facts are posted and the suspected individual or corporation need not be fully disclosed for many reasons but enough info should be given to heed future buyers. Also, Audiogon should have an interest to put convicted audio dealers full name and last known location up in a list as well.
Wolf_garcia, do you remember Rudy's last name to satisfy Tpreaves? Maybe I should ask David Wilson if he ever found him......
Na...I only remember he had a shop in Rye, NY or someplace that I'd visit when rambling around Westchester on business. I also ran in to him once at a 1987 Stereophile show in NYC. I just remember him having some serious attitude, and when I asked him what something in his store (salon?) cost he'd look it up in an audio magazine implying everything was sold at list price. He said in response to a question about cable that he didn't stock it since he didn't want to be known as "the cable guy."
Many of us have gotten burned over the years making up front deposits on Audio gear. How to fully protect yourself. Never, ever do a cash wire, cashiers check, or personal check. Use a major Credit card or debit card only.
If you get burned on the deposit using your card, go into your Bank and have them file a fraud complaint form. Have the bank give you a reverse charge Master Card/Visa form to fill out. They will credit your account with a thirty day hold. The seller has to legally perform and deliver within thirty days, by returning your deposit or fulfilling your order. Failing to do so, the credit to your account is released to you and the seller loses the funds. I have done this twice in ten years.
Because it still happens and many younger people need advice on how to protect themselves and avoid getting scammed..
Audiozen is correct. Also, this subject has recently come up in another, less informative, less useful, less reasoned, more emotional and more parochial forum, in which I used to participate, but no longer do, where a speaker manufacturer was having trouble delivering paid-for speakers and it was hotly debated, without resolution, what the options were for buyers who had paid in full years ago and not yet received their speakers......it seems that everybody should follow Audiozens advice and not get burned that way. This forum is always a source of good information, which is why I brought the subject up and am pleased that I did. Thank you to the responders.
01-15-13: Springbok10
So cut the superior attitude .

I asked a simple question. How in the world can you construe that as a superior attitude?
Tpreaves, if that was a simple question, to which you didnt know the answer, I guess the simple Answer is "yes", but since you already knew the answer, it is not a simple question, but rather a rhetorical, condescending exclamation of disapproval. Check out your grammar texts from High school.
I realize you are angry about being taken for 5 grand but why are you insistant on trying to make me look like the bad guy?
Great idea, Polyglot. Tpreaves, I didn't like your ""question", you didn't like my answer, so lets agree to disagree. I don't think our argument is adding to the value of this thread, so lets move on, shall we?
I wasn't arguing with you sir/madam. Go ahead and feel free to have the last word.
when the seller(local shop) asked deposit for dynaudio c1 speakers and 2 weeks of waiting,I decided not to mess with seller.It looked stranged,because ealier I had bad experience on ebay when I won dynaudio c2 speakers from the guy in France and he pointed his bank account in Greece.Some guys from Africa-Nigeria doing similar thing all the time on ebay
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If there are any lawyer/audiophiles on this forum who could provide me some advice for a fee in regards to a fraud case involving a 'ring' of users here on Audiogon and dealing with it in the state of NY, I'd be grateful if one of you could reach out to me via Audiogon in-mail. Thank you....
I can name one- Joe Fratus, who was a US distributor for Art Audio (UK company).
Took my $6,000 (100%) deposit for an PX25 amp about 4-5 years ago. I'm still waiting
Being of Italian descent, I can say that the old guys back in the day didn't bother dealing with attorneys on issues like this. They just turned the issue over to Uncle Guido.
Death cancels all debt. Aside from that, one would think you still have recourse.
Not so, in common property states and de-facto ones like Wisconsin you are responsible for all your expired spouses debts . Cost me 27K.
Silly audiophiles. Of course it's a crime. The issue is proving intent to defraud at the time he took the money. He would have claimed that at the time he took the money, he had intended to deliver - but went bankrupt and closed his shop at a later date. Difficult or impossible to prove intent to defraud, under the circumstances. The prosecutors won't touch a case they can't easily win, and the op wasn't a local voter/taxpayer.
I remember your plight. It now seems to be erased from the forums. I was reading a post in a thread here one day a year or so ago. I think it was "amps to keep forever" or something like that, and the poster was saying his Art Audio amp was the one for him.
I brought up this past incident of him keeping peoples money, and misrepresenting himself as the Art Audio distributor in the US, and this poster jumped to his defense and said he was a great guy. He also said he couldn't comment on what happened with him, and the Hudson Audio connection, because he had been asked not to.
I asked him who told him not to discuss it, and he never replied. I remember that this was a very hot topic at the time. I feel bad for you.
Been out of the game for awhile. How do you guys pay each other for used gear? Most people dont have ability to take cc. I was burned for $2500 a few years sgo on a JRDG pre.
Just to mention that death does not cancel one's debts. Your estate becomes responsible for your debts. The executor or administrator of your estate becomes responsible for paying the debts. Of course if you die broke then there is no estate and and creditors will be out of luck.