Readers’ Advisory: This story contains blatant profanities necessarily published within the context of presenting this story as accurately and truthfully as possible.
Former staff members of the new ‘Wilton Drive Magazine,’ originally set for a March 18 launch date, have accused Lawrence Patterson, the prospective publisher, of sexual harassment, financial misconduct, and failing to pay ANY of their salaries.
Patterson, 59, has set up shop by renting office space in Wilton Suites on Wilton Drive, where former employees now say he may actually be living. Patterson had been renting a hotel room at the Hurricane Hotel on Oakland Park Boulevard and A1A, but he was asked to leave by its management for not paying his board.
“Good riddance to him,” said Wally, the Hurricane’s manager, “he still owes us $350, his room was trashed, he left clothes and belongings on the floor, and there was pills, steel wool, and glass pipes throughout the room.” The latter two items have been associated with the use of illicit substances.
The hotel manager explained to SFGN that Patterson had lived there for over eight months, before landing a recent “settlement...then he paid us back due rents but a month later he was hitting me up for twenty bucks,” Wally said.
Jeffrey Jacobs, long time DJ at the Ramrod, confirms that he responded to an advertisement Patterson had placed in bar guides seeking an Executive Assistant, but that he left after five days. “I wrote him a polite e-mail stating ‘with all due respect,’ I did not think it was realistic for him to think he was going to publish a magazine by March 18 when he had no computers, no writers, no phones, no website designers or any staff. I thought he was going about it backwards. And I sent him a time sheet for $612.00.”
Jacobs said Patterson’s first reply to him was an email which read: “Fuck you amateur. If you ever want to painlessly commit suicide, just jump off the top of your ego.” Patterson refused to pay the bill and said a check would be mailed from ADP, his payroll service. But two subsequent employees confirmed that Patterson has never contracted with ADP.
The next day Patterson sent Jacobs a second email “threatening to have me arrested for taking some of the work that I created, which he refused to pay me for. I am not a charity,” Jacobs told SFGN.
Patterson’s email included the following text: “I am keeping what compensation you had coming for damages. Filing Felony Charges. You just destroyed your own reputation, dumbass. I am going to watch you crash and burn.”
This was in response to an employee who had earlier written “I would love nothing more than for your magazine to succeed, but I am not going to put my reputation on the line trying to sell full page ads for a magazine where the only page ready to print is the cover.”
“But I could see what was happening,” Jacobs said. “He had asked me to help sneak him back into the Hurricane Motel to get his belongings when he did not pay the rent there. Then he had me take him to the back door of the Wilton Suites so they would not see he was moving his stuff into the office he was renting.”
Less than five days before Patterson had sent this same employee an email reading “I jus think you are fukin amazing, an I want to go out with you an see where it might go. Can you handle it? LP”[sic]
When Jacobs left, Darren Watson, 38, was hired to be Patterson’s Chief Financial Officer and Business Manager. Relocating from Orlando to find new work here after leaving a 15 year position with MCI, Watson said he was immediately hired by Patterson after meeting with him for less than ten minutes.
“I interviewed in February, moved down on March 1, but then when I came in to say hello before the start date, I met the other staff. Every one of them advised me that they had not been getting paid. I began to get very nervous,” Watson told SFGN.
Watson sent an e mail to Patterson communicating his concern. “Then I started getting obscene and filthy sexually harassing emails from him,” Watson told SFGN.
Not for the light hearted, one of those emails from Patterson arrived on Friday, March 5, at 2:23 a.m., reading “I am going to have to beat your ass. You’re a top, aren’t you, butch boy. AND everyone including me noticed your big fuckin basket jus fore yo left yesterday. If your cock had been bulging any more, it would’ve busted right out your jeans. Then daddy would have haad to throat if for you an drain you dry. I know you just got out of a relationship, but I am WAY interested in YOU. But will deny sayin it on a stack of bibles.”[sic] Patterson was not done.
Watson received a second communication at 2:37 a.m. It not only promised an immediate salary increase, but when he came over, he was advised by Patterson: “don’t wear any underwear. I want to see that big dick.” Watson declined to report to work on Monday, and was never paid any monies for the time he was there.
Neither was Orlando Espinosa. He responded to the same ad Watson did and served as the Executive Personal Assistant for two weeks. “I too was hired in less than ten minutes. I too never got paid. I too saw other people get fired for no reason without also getting paid. And all the while Patterson was talking about creating this major magazine he never added a land line, a computer, or tech equipment.”
All he acquired, one staffer noted, was a beat up used computer from the school board for a hundred bucks.
When Espinosa discovered some of the emails sent to Jacobs, he too, left the company. “I believed Patterson to have no money and that we would probably never get paid for all the work we did for him in the last two weeks. We were actually trying to put together a magazine.”
Even a fourth employee, Michael B., responded to the ad for an assistant. But Michael B told SFGN that “I was hired to assist in the development of a cable TV channel, but then I was urgently called in to sell ads for a magazine, sent to meet with merchants, but I never even had a mockup of the magazine.” The employee said he joined with other staffers in not returning to work when they were not paid.
Michael Krauser, who runs Wilton Executive Suites, not a hotel, on Wilton Drive, could not comment on the purported new residency of Patterson. He said it was in the “hands of his lawyers.” Besides Jacobs, at least two other former employees told SFGN “the guy is actually living there.”
Lawrence Bruce Patterson’s Nevada based corporation is named Financial Pros, LLC. Its stock and trade is selling annuities and life and health insurance products. Applying to do business here in Florida originally in February, 2009, Patterson listed an address on the west coast of the state on Coral Way in Cape Coral.
Going now by the nickname of ‘Butch,’ Patterson has been a life settlement agent since 2001, and was licensed as a viatical broker in Florida in 2002. He is presently registered with the state as a Series 215 licensed life-health-annuities agent.
While Patterson declined to talk to SFGN about “his past,” his own words on an insurance blog he posted last year bragged that he has “participated in many conferences and symposia and invests hours in daily self-study to stay current with cutting-edge industry news and related strategic applications of Life Settlements, charitable giving, and inter-related life insurance/annuity scenarios.”
The image of Patterson as a shrewd financial executive paints a little different picture than his present portrait on ‘Facebook’, where he lists his website, financialpros.com, and his interests and hobbies, as “sex, beaching, shopping, working out, sex, Martial arts, sex, spending money, sex, and YOUNGER GUYS.”
Listing himself as single, he says his favorite quote is “You can’t be too thin, too hung, too rich, or too tan.”
This is not the same Patterson who was once, years ago, a respected insurance agent. Sources who knew him then, said he went by his middle name, Bruce, and that he was a “nice, timid, prim, proper, hard working older man who would research his job thoroughly and take it to the next level.”
However, those same sources indicated that Patterson, about ten years ago, suffered a life-changing medical incident after a near fatal bite by a rare, brown recluse spider. “He came back a changed man,” the source said, “as if some force had taken hold of him.”
This past week, Patterson revealed in what he called “a cover story” for his premiere issue that he was HIV Positive. In his announcement, Patterson admits to “being very sick during January and February” and not taking his meds all last year. He declined to discuss the matter further with SFGN, saying “God brought me here for a reason.”
Patterson entered the South Florida scene by taking out two full page ads in Hotspots last month, bragging about them on Facebook, and offering up ‘securities and annuities’ for Financial Pros, saying nothing about the proposed magazine. The ads employed the copyrighted and statutorily protected logos of Ian Fleming and James Bond, hustling customers to invest.
Patterson, however, was not given authorization to use the copyrighted James Bond images as his own. Stated Michael Tavares, Licensing Director for Danjaq, LLC., which owns the licenses for the James Bond films, “We did not grant any permission to Mr. Patterson or Financial Pros to use any of our trademark materials. I can definitely state that this is an actionable and unauthorized use.”
An online check of the name ‘Wilton Drive Magazine’ has also revealed that the use of that fictitious name was statutorily protected by Jim Bellin, an Oakland Park, Florida businessman on May 23, 2007. It is still valid. Thus, the name ‘Wilton Drive Magazine’ is owned by a registrant other than Patterson, even though he is attempting to sell thousand-dollar a page ads using that name.
Meanwhile, people meeting with him are leaving their encounters shell-shocked. The publishers of the Gay Community Yellow Pages, Marci Alt and Thomas Ryan met Patterson for a dinner, which politely concluded with Patterson agreeing to purchase an annual ad to promote his new magazine, along with a consulting contract.
When Ryan called the next day to pick up the agreed upon check of $3500, an irrational Patterson cursed him out abusively, berating him for ten minutes and calling him a ‘fraud.’ Ryan claimed he was “completely shocked and appalled...in the ten years I have been a business professional I have never been spoken to in such a disrespectful tone.” Ryan added “it was not a conversation, he just shouted at me.”
After respectfully replying in an e-mail, Ryan was taunted again. Patterson responded by telling Ryan “And your point is? Lose our contact info, butch up, and get over yourselves.”
Patterson was not done. He then sent another email to Ryan, reading “you and your dyke partner are grifters… our magazine is on the streets on 3/18, and I didn’t have to pay a ransom of $25k for fucking consulting.”[sic]
Mike Trottier at Hotspots claimed a similar experience. “From the moment this man came in, I got a very weird vibe that he was very strange. First he told me he was selling gold bullion, then annuities. Then he came in with this James Bond ad and a classified for an executive assistant.” Both have been removed from the publication.
Photographer Pompano Bill covered the launch party for the ‘Financial Pros’ endeavor at Wilton Suites, but Pompano says “there was no one there, and Patterson just launched into vicious comments about numerous people for no reason at all. There was no literature for the company or the magazine or anything explaining what he was doing.”
Jeffrey Jacobs, the DJ who worked one week with Patterson, confirms the stories. “He asked me to put my reputation on the line. When I tried to explain to him that his staff and production equipment was insufficient for a start up, I got an email from him telling me “Geez, go get sucked off again... No shit, I know what we need, quit bitchin and fukin get on it.”
Jeffrey Jacobs, the DJ who worked one week with Patterson, confirms the stories. “He asked me to put my reputation on the line. When I tried to explain to him that his staff and production equipment was insufficient for a start up, I got an email from him telling me “Geez, go get sucked off again... No shit, I know what we need, quit bitchin and fukin get on it.”[sic]
Jacobs resigned the next day, asking for his pay, which he has still not received. No one who worked there has.
On Friday, Patterson announced in an email blast the hire of a new CFO, Scott Campbell, and a new launch date of April 1.
Patterson noted that Campbell held an MBA in Finance. He does. But meeting that deadline with Campbell’s aid might also be a problem. Campbell quit the same day.
Stating that he was leaving ‘Wilton Drive Magazine,’ since “nothing Patterson has said has been credible,” Campbell told SFGN “Here it is March 19 and we do not have a staff or anything to go forward with.”
Campbell respectfully wished Patterson well with his project, but instructed him to not use his name in any way as being part of his organization.
After five separate sources were verified with similar complaints of sexual harassment and non-payment, SFGN asked Patterson to respond to the allegations. He replied by stating it was “none of our business,” culminating with a notice threatening the newspaper with a libel lawsuit if this story was published.
In a rage, Patterson also called the SFGN office, reaching Marketing Director Cliff Dunn. Placed on a speakerphone, he proceeded to shout out a string of obscenities saying he “loves lawsuits” and he “loves to go to fucking war,” and he would destroy ‘Kent’ for trying to “stop him from publishing his fucking magazine.”
Over the weekend, Patterson followed up those obscenities with a series of email blasts to hundreds of people within the local LGBT community, repeating newer threats, warning SFGN that “this can only end badly... and not for me.”
Meanwhile, Campbell, like Watson, Jacobs, Espinosa, Ryan, and others including a hotel on the beach, provided services or worked for money and a magazine they may never see.
Campbell was philosophical, “Times are hard,” he said, “I wanted to take a shot but there is nothing here.”
As for the news story, whoops, it ran.