Fraud suspect back in business |

Fraud suspect back in business

ASPEN Even though he faces 11 counts of check fraud in Aspen and a slew of lawsuits in his native California, Peter Frommer still has the entrepreneurial fire in his belly.Frommer said Tuesday he plans to go on line with a new arm of his wireless Internet provider, Tangeo, in the Roaring Fork Valley. He said he will start an aggressive eight-week ad campaign, running daily half- and full-page ads starting March 1.Frommer’s advertising blitz will come just four days before the date he must face the check fraud charges, including allegations that he shorted his landlord, the Hotel Jerome, area baby sitters and one potential investor, in Pitkin County District Court.”He made money for us – until he stole it,” Tom Smutts, a former investor who claims he lost more than $100,000 to scams Frommer perpetrated in California, told The Aspen Times.Smutts is one of many former associates and investors with Frommer who have gone public with letters alleging millions of dollars in lawsuits over investments with Frommer.Bradley Booker, chief technical officer at Tangeo, which employs fewer than 20 workers in its California office, said the firm is a viable business.”The company is moving forward,” he said, adding that Frommer’s Aspen ambitions are legitimate.”He’s speaking with people to put the wheels in motion out there,” Booker said. And Booker himself recently visited the valley to help plan.Cleaning houseAsked how he’ll overcome his recent bad press in Aspen and civil suits in Los Angeles, Frommer said, “Restitution for everyone involved.””They’ll be settled before [the hearing],” Frommer said of his outstanding check debts, adding that he has been going around town paying people back but can’t go near some of them because of restraining orders.Prosecutors need to prove he deliberately defrauded people when writing checks in Aspen.But Frommer claims “bad management” – not a desire to steal – spawned the bad checks: “Intent to defraud will not be there,” he said.Frommer was quick to differentiate the local businesses that had received bad checks from the investors who allege they lost money. Check recipients will be paid, he said, but the many California civil suits will take years to resolve.”I do not have a single offshore bank account,” Frommer said in response to allegations that he is a flight risk. He has no Hungarian passport nor plans to run, he said: “I challenge anyone to find proof of any of that.””People out here have been awesome,” Frommer said. “I’ve not really had a negative reception.”Even those who recognize his mug shot from The Aspen Times are friendly, Frommer said. Some even asked for his autograph, he said. And he plans to stay in the valley and move forward with Tangeo.”If you build it, the investors will come,” Frommer said. He will start his network provider in Aspen with his own money, he said.”Every person with our services [is] happy with it,” Frommer said. He plans to make wireless available in parts of the valley that cable and DSL can’t reach – places like Redstone and lower Woody Creek, he said – and he believes those receiving the service won’t make the association with the company and charges against him.In his own imageOne local PR professional said Frommer needs to prove himself before he can be trusted again.”If somebody has a checkered background … they need to do some due diligence before they have people trust them,” said Jeanette Darnauer, president of the Darnauer Group, an Aspen-based marketing and public relations firm. Business and investment is all about trust, Darnauer said.”If he hasn’t been convicted of anything he has to be given a chance,” Darnauer said. But Frommer faces unique challenges to prove he’s legitimate to potential Aspen clients and investors.”It does take time,” Darnauer said. “Especially for someone from another community or another state.”Darnauer has taken on clients with image problems in the past, but said the challenge is usually to develop an image for someone who needs public exposure, not fix things for someone who has lots of bad press.”If he is really legit he has to do some work,” Darnauer said. “He’s got to prove that to people … and it has to come from the heart.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is

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