Petro America Corporation hasn't exactly lived up to its tagline, "The People's Company." Instead, the sham company -- led by Kansas City, Kansas, man Owen Hawkins -- appears to have cleaned out thousands of investors of their hard-earned cash (read the full story of Petro America here).
The company's goodwill with investors understandably took a hit. So how did Elaine Murphy, who runs the company's shareholders relations department, try to keep her investors' trust? By accusing them of stalking!
Wiley Scruggs and Jeff Atkins, two Petro shareholders who voiced their skepticism about the company early on, stood in a long line snaking out of a Jackson County courtroom early Wednesday morning. The two had taken off work to respond to Murphy's order of protection petition, in which she accused them of stalking her and threatening violence at a meeting of the Ministers' Alliance -- a group of Kansas City ministers who often act on behalf of the company -- held at Denny's early last month.
Funny: I happened to be at the meeting with a tape recorder rolling, and Atkins and Scruggs made no such threats. And, notably, there were no women besides me at the meeting. (Murphy could not be reached, although it would have been funny to hear her explain the phantom stalking.)
Neither Atkins nor Scruggs was particularly surprised to be there, as Petro officials have called the police on them -- and me -- at shareholders meetings before. But they found something odd about the stalking allegation.
"You've never seen Elaine?" Atkins asked Scruggs as they waited in line to enter the courtroom. Scruggs said he didn't know who she was, and the two accused stalkers ventured guesses about which of the 50 people milling outside the courtroom was Murphy.
Whoever she was, Atkins was ready to defend his and Scruggs' side. Everyone in line held only their court summons except for Atkins, who cradled a portfolio of documentation and newspaper articles.
But the man ushering people into the courtroom stopped Atkins when he got to the door, and told him that their case was dismissed -- by Murphy herself, two days after she had filed the petition. "Man," Atkins said as the he and Scruggs laughed all the way to the elevator, "I was about to lay all this bullshit in front of the judge!"