Interesting. I had Mayberry USA for a while and never had any trouble with it. I only left them because I wanted a lower cost ISP. I didn't even know they had gone under until now 9-28-09. Jim
By Monica Alonzo
By Ray Stern
By New Times Staff
By Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Monica Alonzo
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By Robrt L. Pela
Before moving to Scottsdale, Nuciola was selling Mayberry USA stock directly for Mayberry from its Rochester, New York, sales headquarters. He also had a direct financial interest in Mayberry USA through a Mayberry subsidiary called Child Online Protective Services.
Even after he was hired by Arizona Capital to sell Mayberry USA stock, Nuciola continued to work at Mayberry USA as vice president of investor relations and mergers and acquisitions.
Nuciola's sister was also involved in Mayberry USA. Marla Nuciola Gold helped manage Mayberry's telephone sales department. She also is married to David Gold, who is vice president of sales for Mayberry USA.
Wilson and David Gold, meanwhile, have a long-standing business relationship. The two attempted to start a stock brokerage firm in 1996, but were unable to raise the funds.
With Nuciola now working for Arizona Capital, Mayberry USA and Arizona Capital had become a very tangled web with boundless potential for conflicts of interest.
The average investor was completely in the dark. But other problems soon became apparent.
In the spring of 1999, Lang, the commodities trader, set up a meeting for Wilson and Mayberry chairman Richie Martin with William Smithburg, the retired chief executive officer of the marketing conglomerate Quaker Oats.
If anyone knew how to market Mayberry USA, it would be a business leader like Smithburg, who skillfully maneuvered Gatorade onto National Football League sidelines during his tenure at Quaker Oats.
Lang says Smithburg's ties to Quaker Oats could have led to Mayberry USA's CD being placed inside millions of cereal boxes -- a perfect way to penetrate the Internet service provider market.
Smithburg remembers the meeting in the spring of 1999. He says he immediately loved the idea and offered his services to Wilson and Martin to help with anything the company needed. He wrote a check for $35,000 for Mayberry stock and gave them his phone number, expecting a call.
"I never heard from them again," Smithburg says.
Lang was stunned.
"They never called him," Lang says. "He was really upset and infuriated. These buffoons come up here and come off like they know what they are talking about. They tried to act like they knew more about business than he did."
Other Chicago-area investors set up Wilson and Martin with high-level contacts at McDonald's and the Chicago Cubs marketing department.
Wilson and Martin never capitalized on those contacts, either.
"That killed it," Lang says. "Once they didn't try to chase down and take advantage of investors and contacts like that, you are just kicking yourself in the ass because you are never going to amount to anything."
At the same time it became apparent Wilson and Martin were not taking advantage of business opportunities, the Internet service provider market was beginning to erode.
As doubts mounted about Mayberry USA, investors began to become suspicious about certain stock transactions.
One Chicago-area investor -- who asked not to identified -- kept detailed records on transactions. In May 1999, for example, he says Martin sold him 15,000 shares of Martin's personal stock in Mayberry for $5 a share. Martin sold the stock at the same time Mayberry USA was making a private placement offering at $7 a share.
The investor says he thought it was a good deal getting the stock for $5 a share. He assumed that Martin was simply raising some cash for himself, since Martin had largely been paid for his efforts in Mayberry stock.
In retrospect, the investor says the timing of Martin's sale of stock looks suspicious since the company has since collapsed. "That smells real bad," the investor says.
Martin declined to return several New Times calls seeking comment for this story.
Investors missed another warning in late 1999 and early 2000 when Arnold Rick Gean, Mayberry USA's chief financial officer, reportedly sold all of his 170,000 shares of Mayberry USA stock. Gean was CFO of Arizona Capital prior to joining Mayberry USA in 1998.
"We felt bad for Rick at the time," an investor says. "He did all this work and now had no stock left. I was feeling bad for the guy. Months later, I see that was a big red flag."
Gean did not return New Times phone calls.
By the spring of 2000, Wilson and Martin were finally forced out of Mayberry USA. Phil Scheldt was brought in by the other investors to try to salvage the company.
Scheldt tells New Times that Mayberry USA records indicate that Wilson and Nuciola were also getting rid of their Mayberry stock in the winter of 1999-2000.
"Shareholders got pissed because Phil, Wilson and Richie were privately selling their shares in Mayberry to other people," Scheldt says.
Phil Scheldt discovered another Wilson-managed company that was out of control when he assumed the helm at Mayberry USA.
"It was an unmanaged company," Scheldt tells New Times in an interview from his Dallas office.
Among the problems:
Mayberry USA failed to pay payroll taxes during Wilson's and Martin's watch.
Mayberry USA was slapped with judgments totaling $109,000 for failing to pay legal bills to two Phoenix law firms.
Mayberry USA's service was spotty, with frequent network connection problems, a lack of technical support and poor customer service.
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