Saturday, May 17, 2008

Violin Swindler Article Update & A Book Deal?

This is a bit of an update from a previous entry on violin dealer con-artist Joseph Tang. Remember him? The San Francisco Chronicle's piece followed up on the story with Tang pleading guilty to all original federal indictment charges. He pleaded guilty last week to mail and wire fraud, after scamming 10 people out of about $400,000 in connection with the sale and consignment of string instruments from April 2002 to December 2006.

A plea deal was reached where prosecutors have agreed not to file additional charges arising from their investigation. Tang may face up to 20 years in prison for each count, but prosecutors have agreed to ask for no more than 33 months if Tang has no prior criminal record. As a Canadian citizen, Mr. Tang is also facing the possibility of deportation.

[ Violins acquired by Bob Ng from Joseph Hokai Tang]

Aside from the hard facts, the article fleshes out the story with remarks and anecdotes by a peripheral of characters such as local amateur cellist-collector San Friscan Bob Ng, prominent musicians, Jason Price of Tarisio, and a court case involving dealers suing the other for loss.

One thing that really caught my attention though was Mr. Tang was quoted as saying:
"All I need to say is I've been approached for a book deal. ... It'll be about the whole violin business"
This was said right after he declined to comment and left the courtroom pleading guilty. After all he's done, I couldn't believe he had the gull to say that. In a small world of classical music where relationships close and are built upon mutual trust, you would think that he would try to hold onto some dignity with apologies or reconciliations. Instead, he turns himself into a self-promotional advert. I can imagine the title to his new book "Confessions of a Violin Thief."

Maybe Mr. Tang should have read up on another author that this article looked into; Berkley Attorney and violin-maker Carla Shapreau. I'm going to take a look into a book that she's co-authored called "Violin Fraud: Deception, Forgery, Theft, and Lawsuits in England and America."

1 comment:

Lakshmi Mareddy said...

Well Mr. Tang seems to have a truly criminal/commercial mind. Profit in adversity et al!

A good and interesting revelation to a lay person such as I.

PS: Alex, I enjoyed chatting with you today! I think you play the violin really really well.


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