Charles F. Long II's detractors say he has duped a lot of people, and apparently wants to pull another fast one--this time on the Super Bowl Host Committee.
Long is stirring up racism charges on the eve of Super Bowl XXX by claiming that the National Football League has dealt in bad faith with his organization, which had hoped to serve as color guard prior to Sunday's game at Sun Devil Stadium ("Buffaloed Soldiers," January 11).
Long, 50, is the founder of a small Phoenix group known as America's Buffalo Soldiers. The group reenacts the little-known all-black military cavalry and infantry units that helped settle the West.
He claims that Super Bowl officials had promised that his group could present the flag before the game, which will be viewed by some 600 million people worldwide. But Long says the NFL reneged on its promise at the last minute, opting instead for a traditional military color guard.
"Why is the NFL speaking with forked tongue?" Long asks.
The NFL and Super Bowl organizers deny promising Long's group anything. But in an effort to avert a racially charged fiasco, Super Bowl officials were said to be considering ways to involve Long's group.
That would be a mistake, according to members of a previous Buffalo Soldier outfit once headed by Long.
"He's not a credit to the Buffalo Soldiers," says Harlan Robinson, who has joined other former members of Long's groupto form another Buffalo Soldier outfit called the Arizona 10th Cavalry, ECompany.
Robinson says he and 31 other men devoted their weekends for several years to train under Long to develop cavalry skills and historical understanding of the black military units.
But in July 1993, nearly the entire troupe quit Long's organization en masse after learning of events that led Avondale and Glendale police and the state Attorney General's Office to investigate questionable financial dealings by Long.
Perhaps the greatest concern, Robinson says, was that Long hadn't paid since 1992 for the uniforms the men wore, despite demands for payments from the owner, CJS Film Studios. Long says he still has some of the uniforms.
The police probes haven't resulted in any felony charges, but several civil judgments have been won against Long; they remain unpaid. The investigations, however, turned up enough questions to undermine faith in Long's leadership.
"There is a Buffalo Soldier outfit out there that is headed by an individual who just doesn't measure up," Robinson says of Long.
Long says his critics are jealous of his work as a movie producer and are out to ruin his reputation. "People are attempting to do a lot of things to smear me," Long says. "This has been going on for a long time."
However, public records and Long's own resume betray a pattern of deception and financial irresponsibility--even violence.
Ironically, many of Long's questionable acts occurred during the past four years, while he could accurately claim the mantle of state official.
Governor J. Fife Symington III appointed Long to the state Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board in 1992 without conducting even a cursory review of Long's background. In fact, state records show Symington appointed Long one week before Long even filled out an application to serve. On that application, Long lied about his criminal misdemeanor record.
Symington did nothing when he began receiving written complaints about Long.
Now, on the eve of the biggest public event in Arizona's history, Super Bowl officials are scrambling to appease Charles F. Long.
The resume Charles F. Long II submitted to Symington's office states that he received a political science degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. But university officials say that Long only attended two semesters in 1963-64.
In an interview, Long acknowledges that references on his numerous rsums to graduating from Wilberforce are erroneous.
In his January 15, 1992, application for a seat on the advisory board, Long claimed he had never been charged with a "criminal misdemeanor." However, four weeks earlier, on December 20, 1991, Long had been charged with just that when he was arrested for "inflicting injury" to his former girlfriend and mother of his son.
When asked about the arrest and conflict with his girlfriend, Long says, "That never happened."
At least it never happened in Long's mind. Long says he forgot about the incident when, 26 days later, he filled out the state application which specifically asked about criminal misdemeanor charges.
"It wasn't in my mind that I had done that," Long explains.
The case was heard in Phoenix Municipal Court in April 1993 and Long was convicted, fined $250 and placed on one year's probation. Long says the judge was biased.
The conviction came on the heels of several other police calls involving Long. In April 1989, Phoenix police arrested Long after he used a sledgehammer to break down the door of the house where his girlfriend was staying.
Long says in an interview that it was his house and he was locked out. The woman initially asked police to press charges, but decided to drop the case after Long paid for the damaged door.
Long's turbulent relationship with his girlfriend spilled over into a complicated paternity suit in Superior Court. Once again, Long was picked up by police and spent four days in jail in September 1994 for failure to pay child support.
During the same period that Long was scrapping with the law because of personal problems, he also was soliciting friends and fellow Buffalo Soldiers for tens of thousands of dollars, which he promised to repay upon completion of a motion picture he claimed to be producing called Cry Vengeance.
"Nobody ever got any money back, not a penny," says Ginny Bowen, who owns Triple A, a Mesa set, costume and prop shop that lost nearly $10,000 on Long's project. "He just lives off other people's money."
Two months after Charles F. Long II was appointed to the motion picture advisory board, he began negotiations with Charter International Productions Ltd., a Berkeley, California, independent film producer, to secure financing for Cry Vengeance.
Billy Clark, a principal with Charter, wrote Long in March 1992, stating that Long needed to put up some money before Clark could begin securing $7 million to finance the film. Clark figured he needed about $15,000 to get the ball rolling--not much, considering the amount of money at stake.
But Long didn't have that kind of cash. Clark grew impatient and, in July 1992, notified Long that the relationship was suspended until Long could make an advance payment.
By August 1992, Long convinced Clark that he would produce some cash, and the two agreed to new terms for movie rights--Clark was to get 51 percent of the proceeds from CryVengeance, Long would get 49 percent.
The agreement required Long to forward $15,000 to Clark, but despite his assurances, Long still lacked the cash.
Long turned to Buffalo Soldier Darryl Khalid, who agreed to invest at least $10,000, records on file at the Attorney General's Office show.
Khalid and Pam Abbott signed an agreement on September 5, 1992, to provide the money to Long's company, M.T.C. International, to produce the movie. Over the next few months, Khalid and Abbott gave Long nearly $9,000--the money coming from proceeds of a second mortgage on their home. The couple says it expected Long to forward the money to Clark to cover his expenses.
Instead, Long kept the money while allegedly telling Clark that Khalid and Abbott were having trouble coming up with the cash, records at the AG's Office show.
"His whole thing was a scam," Khalid says.
Clark, meanwhile, wrote letters of complaint to state officials and Glendale police.
"If you're in California or any other place in the civilized world and he did this stuff, he would find himself in jail or in a shallow grave," Clark says.
Long says he did nothing wrong.
He says the money Khalid and Abbott gave him was used to try to raise additional money through a "Wild West show" that was a financial loser. The contract called for Khalid and Abbott to be paid from proceeds from production financing to be secured by the end of 1992. No production financing was secured within that time frame, Long says.
"Everything that was promised to these people to do, was done," Long says.
Glendale police forwarded their report to the Attorney General's Office, which investigated but decided not to prosecute Long.
"He may not be the world's greatest, but whether or not he made serious misrepresentations or acted criminally, I don'tthink we could prove that," says Kari Dozer, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Grant Woods.
The Attorney General's Office appears to have overlooked one small detail.
Records at the AG's Office indicate that during the summer of 1992, when Charles F. Long II was looking for cash, he prepared a package of materials for P. Robert Fannin, chairman of the state Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board.
Long's June 1, 1992, letter describes Cry Vengeance, and goes on to deplore the state's poor support of Arizona movie producers. The letter also seeks Fannin's support for Long's project.
According to records obtained from the attorney general, Long prepared another letter to Fannin, also dated June 1, 1992. In that letter, Long describes in detail the production budget for Cry Vengeance and asks Fannin to invest.
The letter asks Fannin for $150,000 in return for a 5 percent stake in the film's proceeds. (The language of the proposal is nearly identical to one offered threemonths later to Khalid and Abbott; only dollar amounts and percentage of return are different.) The investment offer to Fannin is signed by Charles F. Long II.
Beneath Long's signature is a line stating "Accepted by" with Robert Fannin's name typed beneath. Under Fannin's name is his title--"Chairman/Governor's Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board."
Fannin says he never invested in any project offered by Long.
"I have never been involved in any kind of venture with him. I haven't personally and neither has the board," Fannin says.
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Then whose signature is that on the line above Fannin's name?
Fannin declined to comment on the signature after receiving a faxed copy of the document Monday.
"I don't want to say anything about him or about this document until I look at my 1992 files," Fannin says.
Long concedes that Fannin never signed the agreement.
"He didn't sign anything. He didn't put any money into it," Long says, adding that he doesn't know who signed Fannin's name.