TRADE SECRETS THEFT SAGA: BETTER CALL CHIP

SEASON TWO EPISODE 3

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SEASON TWO EPISODE 3

TRADE SECRETS THEFT SAGA: BETTER CALL CHIP

BY KEN ROSSIGNOL

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

When relating the saga of the massive trade secrets theft from a Maryland company that is alleged in a RICO civil suit in United States District Court, the characters in the story are begging to rise to the prominence of grifters of past decades.  Such gypsies, tramps, and thieves as Jeffrey Levitt, Jeffrey Cohen, Mary Halsey, Bernie Madoff, Kevin Merrill, and others have used Savings and Loan companies, banks, insurance companies, and innocent old Ponzi schemes to defraud investors.  

With the digital era soaring to new heights with every hour of every day, it is only natural that the allegedly criminally inclined would leave the Tombstone Territories, Deadwoods, and Klondikes of the past gold rushes and let the wind beneath their wings lift them to new heights of nefarious achievement.

Combined with the rising tide of Yellow Revenge on the part of the Communist Chinese to wreak havoc upon the West to even the score of colonialism, opportunists make deals with China to harvest trade secrets from American companies in every form. One of the most prominent new fields of the criminal theft of trade secrets is in the niche of marketing skills. A few companies immediately joined the online marketing giant of Amazon’s path of success and began to interpret how Amazon’s customers were reached.

 In turn, this new offshoot of commercial activity expanded the traditional way of sales, as shown so well in the cable television series, MAD MEN, and provided manufacturers and retailers with guidance on how to reach the customers of Amazon.

One small marketing and advertising firm in Maryland, Compass Marketing Inc., started by John White, developed strategies in counter sales display racks originally developed to sell Chapstick and other products in convenience and drug stores.

Success soon landed in the lap of John White after several years of hard work and he needed skills and help from others. Being from a large family, John White soon found himself surrounded by several siblings in his firm, with two of his brothers becoming partners.

Compass began to concentrate on how to select the right keywords, categories, and search patterns used by customers of Amazon in order to provide clients with the data needed to be successful in the rapidly growing and changing digital landscape.

The White family grew up in Clinton, Maryland and as the siblings moved up in years, several sought and achieved careers in the Maryland State Police, and the United States Park Police and one became a lawyer and prosecutor.

 The two brothers of John White who became minority partners in Compass Marketing are Michael White and Daniel White.  Michael White achieved a higher rank in the Maryland State Police and retired as a detective sergeant and in 2014 was elected a Judge of the Orphans Court in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  Daniel White graduated from law school and was hired as an assistant states attorney by St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz.  Sisters of John White also were hired by him to work at various posts in Compass Marketing, bringing the family cocoon around him with loyalty and each with attributes of achievement and trust.

John White appointed Daniel as the firm’s legal counsel and assigned financial oversight chores to Michael White, quite a responsibility for a man without any formal training in accounting or finance.

Compass Marketing soon grew to over a hundred marketing professionals and occupied pricey waterfront offices in the trendy Eastport area of Annapolis. Socially and personally, John White began to travel in far different circles from the old haunts of Clinton in Prince Georges County.  John White developed friendships with rising stars of the administration of Governor Robert Ehrlich, and was the GOP candidate for Congress in 2006 from the Third Congressional District of Maryland; did business with the established Maryland commercial giants such as McCormick and soon national and international firms such as Walmart, and serviced the best-known brands in the world, such as Duracell, Campbells, Johnson & Johnson, Tide, Kraft, and Heinz.

Money was tight as the firm expanded, took risks, and expanded its portfolio of clients and offices.

Bringing in new talent with expertise in various fields became critical and when James C. “Chip” DiPaula joined Compass Marketing, his background in state government appeared to be a great addition. DiPaula became involved in Republican politics and was appointed the GOP convention manager in Philadelphia in 2000.

With the Democratic Party in disarray after years of Whitewater corruption and exposure of the crimes of the Clinton’s and Bill Clinton’s oval office affair with Monica Lewinsky ending in his impeachment, it was a prime opportunity for DiPaula to let his glory and ability shine in bringing off a successful show for Republicans.  That kickoff to the campaign resulted in the election of George W. Bush and in 2002, DiPaula engineered the election of the first Republican governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich, since the crooked Spiro “Ted” Agnew in 1966.

DiPaula became Governor Ehrlich’s Budget Director and then after one year, his Chief of Staff.  In 2006, Governor Ehrlich lost the election to Martin O’Malley and DiPaula was out of the limelight, but not for long. 

Throwing his old boss under the bus, DiPaula became an advocate for same-sex marriage and threw several barbs at the Ehrlich Administration while claiming credit for the passage of the landmark law for his new buddies, the Democrats.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH

DiPaula, who had spent twenty years in government in politics, then joined a retail mall company that owned a string of malls. This career change came just as the banker pals of George Bush were shoving the nation into a recession unmatched by any prior recession, scaring the nation so badly that voters decided the black guy running for the Democrats couldn’t do any worse than the elite white Republicans who screwed the public treasury for bailouts.  This was the worse timing of Chip’s career as the malls were soon becoming white elephants, racked by competition from online retailers, gangs in malls, and discouraged consumers.

DiPaula joined Compass Marketing and reveled in the world success enjoyed by John White’s firm.

The essence of the complaint as stated in Compass Marketing Vs. Flywheel Digital is that DiPaula used the skills, trade secrets, and methods developed by Compass to formulate his new company – Flywheel Digital.  Flywheel Digital then became an appendage of Ascential which created a new Flywheel in Seattle and began to shed the traditional productive segments of the one hundred- and seven-year-old British firm to embrace digital commerce, analysis, and consulting.

As FBI Director Christopher Wray warned in April, the theft of trade secrets is one of the most serious dangers affecting the security of the United States in 2022. The theft of the trade secrets of Compass Marketing, as alleged in the complaint in District Court, by Flywheel Digital and the acquisition of Flywheel by Ascential, and the infiltration by connections with China add up to exactly what Director Wray warns.

The mix of the dramatic, the real, the corrupt, the powerful, politics, and government all combine to fulfill the words of Shakespeare when he wrote in As You Like It:

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;

His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

With apologies to Vince Gilligan and his tremendous series, Better Call Saul, one must remember that the AMC crime and legal drama is fiction while the work, deeds, alleged theft of trade secrets, embezzlement, fraud, extortion, mail fraud, conspiracy, counterfeiting of documents, perjury and other alleged crimes by Chip DiPaula, Michael White, Daniel White, George White, Ascential and others named in the complaint are non-fiction.

This is America and even Chip DiPaula can grow up to have a mansion in Palm Beach and become Saul Goodman.

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