In 2011, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, otherwise known as the West Memphis Three, were freed from prison after serving 18 years. The subject of several documentaries about their plight, the three had been imprisoned after three boys were killed in 1994 in West Memphis, TN. It was argued that they were imprisoned because of their appearance and love of metal. And while there was more than one compilation to benefit the three back when they were in prison, a Portland-area musician has just been sent to prison himself for using the West Memphis Three to scam investors.
Kasey Anderson, a 34 year old musician, bilked investors out of $586,000 for several scams, one of which was a benefit album for the West Memphis Three that was to be called Trapped Like A Ghost. He also promised a benefit concert for them, and as time went on, according the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, his claims got more outrageous:
To court investors, Anderson claimed Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and several other high-profile musicians would be on the album. Profits from the album and an associated concert series were to go to the West Memphis Three Legal Defense Fund. Anderson impersonated a well-known Seattle tour manager. Posing as the manager, Anderson claimed to have firm agreements from Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and Johnny Depp.
As the fraud wore on, Anderson’s excuses became increasingly outlandish. He told investors that he was waiting for a Bruce Springsteen-Lady Gaga collaboration. When the song wasn’t forthcoming, he said Springsteen had agreed to pay his company nearly $1 million for the delay. Anderson forged an email from the wife of one of the West Memphis defendants in which she blamed Springsteen for delays in legal assistance. He then impersonated an entertainment industry attorney, falsified bank records and attempted to put off investors by claiming two Springsteen hits released in the early 1980s – “Don’t Back Down” and “Blood Brothers” – were new tracks the Boss recorded with the band Arcade Fire.
Anderson claimed that mental illness and a drug problem were to blame for his actions, which also saw him stealing from two friends that loaned him money after the initial charges were brought against him in January 2013. What’s even more frustrating is that he’s a musician himself, who had a promising Americana album, Heart of a Dog, released in 2010. Looks like he’ll have four years to think about it.