Stephen Baldwin and the mysterious case of the Loco Joe swindlers

locojoe2.jpgIt’s unlikely that anyone remembers the Loco Joe cappucino soft drink, much less that Stephen Baldwin was one of its pitchmen. Except, that is, the good ol’ New York Post. The paper broke news on the 23rd that the owner of Charity Beverage USA (which was supposed to use profits from drink sales to fund breast-cancer research and “other charities”) was actually skimming more than $1 million off the top. The perp in question is Bill Richards, who was charged with theft by deception in NJ and sentenced to five years probation.

While Baldwin, who lives in Upper Grandview and was only actively promoting the drink back in 2004, doesn’t appear to be connected to any of the wrongdoing, there is one strange loose end in the case. Richards is still apparently trying to shake down investors. On Distributorship.com — “The place to find the best business opportunities, best franchise opportunities, wholesale beverages and available beverage distributors on the internet” — you can still inquire about being a Loco Joe vendor. What’s more, Baldwin is still an (unwitting?) shill for the company, with the following testimonial proudly featured on the site:

<blockquote><div>
Dear Friend,

You do not have to look very far to see that coffee is big…we here at Charity Beverage USA are currently preparing to go nation wide, with a great new tasting drink called loco Joe iced cappuccino, using the new innovative 8.25 oz ready to drink Tetra Prisma packaging.

We hope that you will join us in the exciting chance, to take hold and control a part of the huge ready to drink coffee market. Not only is this a great opportunity for your own success, but its also a great chance to make a difference in lives of so many others.

Stephen Baldwin
Media Promotions</div></blockquote>

While I can’t claim to have ever tasted the “innovative” 8.25 oz drink myself, and thus cannot endorse it or its distributorship opportunities, I do have to hand it to Richards. For a business named Loco Joe, nice choice of spokesperson!

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