Oregon man scams veterans out of wages, some left destitute
I said yesterday to some people that this guy is the worst person in the world. That might be hyperbole, but he’s certainly the worst person I can think of right now. I realize this video is long, but at least watch long enough to see what this guy did to his veteran employees.
Let’s start with Leatherby. When he says that the governor of California hates him, the immediate reaction from knowing that the guy lies incessantly is to assume that that also is made up. It may or may not be in this case. Leatherby was a sort of guest of the governor for a while, if you consider being incarcerated by the state, and then filing a frivolous million dollar lawsuit against the state. It seems Mr. Leatherby did time in the California Penal system, and alleges that it was because the state manufactured evidence against him, falsified documents and generally conspired against him. In a show of remarkable ineptitude he employed himself in the roll of attorney, and the judge eventually tossed the entire thing because he kept failing himself as a lawyer. (He neglected twice to actually serve the Defendants.) So off he goes to Oregon.
But his trail of disaster also branched out into Florida, where he allegedly scammed his father in law, a veteran himself, out of $15,000:
John Tillis is a Vietnam veteran, retired for 37 years. He says his son-in-law stole $15,000 from him.
"A Navy chief is usually pretty sharp. Maybe I've lost a little bit of it over the years, but I'm really embarrassed," Tillis, from Cape Coral, said. "He can lie so good and he researches it."
It all started with an idea and a plumping tool.
"He had planned he would assemble them up on the farm in Ohio using nothing but veterans," Tillis said. The company is called Leatherby Tools, run by Tim Leatherby.
Leatherby told the former Navy chief he wanted to give back to those who served with him.
That seems consistent with this Youtube video Leatherby has posted up where he talks about this invention:
Now, this all came about because of an email from one of the workers in Oregon that contacted me. Joe Lane is a Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran (and deployed to Qatar later) who was one of the victims in this case. I absolutely loathe talking on the phone, but as soon as I got a chance I called up Joe, and the story he told me had be absolutely incensed. It will likely surprise no one that Mr. Leatherby also lied about his military career. I’m still researching that side, in hopes that a federal charge will be added to what the state of Oregon is going to do to this guy. Leatherby does appear to have been a Marine at one point, based on the info supplied to me by a private detective. But Leatherby is not a Silver Star recipient, something he told all of the men who worked for him. In fact, he used his fake bona fides to get the guys to come work for him.
And it wasn’t just Joe, the former infantryman and transport soldier who is still on reserve status, I also talked to Larry Dye, a two-time Vietnam Navy veteran who worked landing craft for beaching Marines. It was at least partially the fact that Leatherby was a Marine that Larry went to work for him. But more so it was a chance to get back on his feet. After being without work for quite a long time, Larry looked to get back on the right track by working as the construction foreman on the jobs in Salem. Thanks in no small part to what happened here, Larry is now not only unemployed, but he and his wife are living in a mobile home at a camping area, trying to do the best they can to find work. Larry’s truck gets about 8 miles to a gallon of gas, but he already lost his more fuel efficient truck when he couldn’t pay for it. Meanwhile his wife is taking baby-sitting jobs as she can, and Larry continues to look for work.
The stories are heartbreaking. And as I listened, I got madder and madder. I called the state of Oregon and spoke with Virginia at the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). If there is a nicer lady in the state of Oregon, I don’t know who that could be. All the guys praised her over and over, saying they talk to her daily, sometimes several times. And she was just as helpful with me. One good thing is that this happened in Oregon. That state has a special fund (the “Wage Security Fund”) set up specifically for this type of thing. Virginia tells me that of the 30 workers (28 men and two women) 21 have already applied for benefits, and they are moving to get them paid as soon as they can. Thankfully for everyone, Larry was a meticulous note keeper, and the State has all the info to get these people paid what they are due.
And there’s another good guy in Oregon, local businessman John Bartolf:
A man has stepped forward to donate $10,000 to veterans who said they were cheated out of their wages.
John Bartholf saw the story on KATU News and wanted to help.
"Before the story even ended, I was picking up the phone, calling you guys. I didn't even give it any thought,” said Bartholf.
Bartholf is CEO of a company called Coverall of Oregon, which sells cleaning franchises. He is not a veteran, but he is grateful for their service.
"These people gave their lives to this country and we're going to say, 'Oh, well?' It's not going to work that way," said Bartholf.
KATU viewers saw the stories about the veterans' plight and donated money to help, including one man who gave $10,000. With so many veterans in need, each family received a small amount of the $10,000 donation, but many said it gave them hope. Other people donated food, clothes, and more.
One group showed up at Browne's house with a surprise, a very large donation of food. Browne and his wife, Amanda Horsley, were overwhelmed. Then they decided it was their turn to give.
"I impulsively made the decision, 'We're going to feed people,'" said Browne.
They found other families who had bare cupboards and children to feed, and delivered the food to them, just in time for Christmas. They said they were able to help three families, including one with two small boys who were so eager to eat that they dug into the turkey as soon as it was brought in.
"I know there's a lot of people hurting much worse than us. I'm just so thankful that we have what we have," said Horsley. "We are blessed."
That really is heartwarming, and it makes me want to go to Oregon, where people look out for one another. Joe tells me that the State isn't that big, and the sense of community is great. Which makes Leatherby's lies all the more bizarre. He didn't think any of them would realize that the Attorney General was not a man? Who brings actors to a luncheon pretending to be someone of the opposite gender?
But now the guys (and girls) just want Leatherby to pay, if not in money, atleast in time as a guest of the State of Oregon, like he was in California. After a while Joe and others started to realize that Leatherby's claims were ridiculous, and they wouldn't get paid. "For a small group of us involved," says Joe "it became less about the money and more about making sure he wasn't able to hurt anyone else."
After the story initially broke the state Department of Justice went after Leatherby, and had a meeting wherein they signed a compliance agreement that Leatherby would pay the workers, and avoid charges under the labor issues. (But NOT avoiding any criminal charges.) I spoke with a person at the DoJ in Oregon who stressed to me that the agreement was just an attempt to get him to pay quick so they could get it to the workers. Although not a veteran himself, this DoJ employee expressed to me how sad and angry the entire Attorney General’s office was over what happened to the vets. And he promised they would do their all to exact a pound of flesh.
And it should surprise no one at this point that Leatherby defaulted on that agreement. He paid the DoJ a grand total of $800, which they promptly turned over to BOLI to disburse to the workers. The DoJ is pursuing criminal penalties, and I’ll update you when something happens.
This case goes on and on, and I am not finished telling the whole story, but I wanted to get this up today. If you feel like helping these veterans, especially if you live in Oregon and know someone who can help find these guys employment, contact...(See update)
UPDATE: New contact to help:
Thank you Mark for your support of this endeavor! We wanted to let you know that donations for the Veterans affected by this story are now being made through the Easter Seals Employment Office in the Salem area. Impact NW was asked by KATU to help with the initial pathway of this project to ensure the Veterans received the right support and we have partnered with Easter Seals to make sure they receive the services they need. For more information or to make a donation, please contact Catherine Todd at Easter Seals at 971.678.7463 or 971.678.7463. Thanks!