BY: Follow @lachlan
The Eunuchs Society was what piqued my interest.
Scrolling through a list of recent lobbying disclosures in early September, an advocacy group for the castrated stuck out, so to speak, among the trade associations and corporate multinationals.
I pictured Lord Varys at the helm of a government-relations effort. Instead, I found Douglas Brice Jordan.
A Google search turned up nothing on the Society, but its lobbying firm, the Achillean International Group, had a website. Five minutes of exploring the site and it was clear that something was … well, odd.
The Eunuchs Society was one of Achillean’s six clients, according to lobbying databases. And Achillean’s chief lobbyist, chairman, and CEO was Douglas Brice Jordan. Who, upon further review, turned out to have spent much of life behind bars.
I watched Achillean’s “video of corporate executives and other matters,” which features Jordan prominently. In the video, he gazes out a window as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston sing “When You Believe” in the background.
The “corporate executives” portion of the video featured about two-dozen headshots. I plugged some screenshots into Google’s reverse image search. All of the photos were either stock photography or publicly available headshots of executives at top global financial firms, including Citi, Deutsche Bank, and the German Commerzbank.
One headshot featured Xiao Gang, former chairman of the Bank of China and a top Chinese financial industry regulator.
Achillean’s website, which he password-protected after I began asking questions, claimed he is a “business consultant” for the company.
As Mariah and Whitney sang to six minutes of a blank screen—the better part of Achillean’s nine-minute video—I searched for more information on this intriguing lobbyist.
The most prolific source of information on the company and its CEO was a website called Wiki Answers, where users are invited to ask questions in the hope that other users with more expertise will answer them.
Someone with the username “Deutsche,” the name of another company that lists Jordan as its chairman and CEO, had used Wiki Answers to populate Google search results lending the impression that Jordan is a wildly successful businessman.
Deutsche joined Wiki Answers in late 2010—right around the time, I later discovered, that Jordan got out of federal prison—and had written nothing but laudatory information about him and his companies.
“Is Douglas Brice Jordan the best lobbyist in the US?” Deutsche asked in 2010. Three seconds later, the same user posted an answer: “Douglas Brice Jordan is a registered political and business lobbyist who was selected as one of the Top 100 Registered Lobbyist by the Business Community in 2012.”
There is no group called “The Business Community” that publishes a “top 100 registered lobbyists” list.
One Deutsche answer, which came two seconds after he posted a question, said Jordan “represents a total of 1.5 million business clients.”
Staff at the Wiki Answers website declined to provide information about user Deutsche and removed the postings after I reached out for comment on the story.
Information on Jordan and his business dealings seemed far-fetched, but his criminal history was well documented.
Information on his professional associations was also widely available through North Carolina’s registrar of companies.
One of the first companies for which Jordan was a registered agent was BALIL 2 Enterprises. It was incorporated in July 2007, while Jordan and its chairman and CEO, Jason Cannadate, were both serving time in a Georgia state prison.
Ryan Nickence, who was also in Georgia state prison for burglary at the same time as Jordan, is listed as the CEO of the Makwa Group, which has the same mailing address, a Greensboro P.O. box, that Achillean lists on its lobbying disclosures.
Claude Gerald Celestin, another Georgia inmate whose time for cocaine trafficking overlapped with Jordan’s, is listed as the chairman and CEO of Celestin Enterprises Inc. Jordan is its registered business agent.
In November 2009, while Jordan was in federal prison, he acted as the registered business agent for a company called Garnder Civills Enterprises. Its sole corporate officer, Shirley Cunningham, was a disbarred Kentucky attorney who had been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for fraud charges three months earlier.
Michael Meador is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison for his role in a murder, a sentence that overlapped with Jordan’s. He is also the CEO of M.D. Meador Enterprises, which lists Jordan as its registered agent.
Jordan would later claim he had no idea that at least 10 of the companies he helped incorporate were run by convicted criminals, including rapists, murderers, and drug traffickers.
At the time, though, I was simply trying to make sense of the information. I began calling every number I could find associated with Jordan, Achillean, and Deutsche Enterprises.
I made dozens of phone calls and finally got someone on the phone. He said his name was Michael Davis, and that he was a friend of Jordan’s holding onto his phone while he was on vacation.
Jordan would not be returning until after Thanksgiving, he said.
After weeks of scouring publicly available information and leaving messages for Jordan in the futile hope that he would call me back, I decided I’d try to confront him. It was clear from publicly available information on Jordan that his home was somewhere in North Carolina. Various addresses listed homes, offices, or P.O. boxes in Greensboro, Roxboro, Timberlake, Charlotte, and Raleigh.
So I went to Greensboro.
Douglas Brice Jordan is 45 years old. His criminal history began at age 18. He was convicted for five crimes committed throughout 1987, including two counts of obtaining property under false pretenses, misdemeanor larceny, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and check fraud. He was sentenced to five years of supervised probation. The probationary period began less than a month after his nineteenth birthday, in December 1987.
Only a month later, he was in prison after violating his probation. He was released in November 1989. The following year, he returned to jail after even more convictions on counts of felony fraud and receiving stolen goods. His second prison stay was lengthier: He wasn’t released until December 1996.
On Christmas Day 2001, Jordan was arrested in Missouri on charges of fraud, forgery, possession of counterfeit devices, and transportation of a stolen vehicle. He pleaded guilty and was sent to federal prison, where he remained until August 2004.
Two months later, while on supervised release in North Carolina, he had failed to gain lawful employment, file monthly reports, or notify his supervising officer of a change of address. A federal district court issued a warrant for his arrest.
Before the authorities could find him, however, Jordan turned up in Georgia, where he was arrested on two counts of forgery and sentenced to three years in state prison. He was incarcerated there from October 2005 until April 2008.
With his federal warrant still outstanding, Jordan was turned over to federal authorities after his release from prison in Georgia. He served more time in a federal penitentiary, and was released in January 2010.
And yet, during this period of on-again, off-again incarceration, Jordan had built himself a business that, he told prospective clients, could provide consulting and registered business agent services.
Jordan helped incorporate five companies in 2007, according to the state’s Secretary of State. The following year, he was listed as the registered agent for six more.
One of his 2008 filings says he is both the registered agent and the chief executive of Deutsche Groupe, Inc. He would later incorporate another company called the Deutsche Enterprises Group, for which he also serves as chairman and CEO.
That company’s website, which is also now password-protected, claimed it provided “lobbying solutions” for corporate clients, though it does not show up in federal lobbying disclosure databases.
Jordan’s bio on the website claimed he was a 10 year veteran of “ABC Bank,” though it’s unlikely he had the time to work at a bank while locked up in federal and state prisons.
By July 2011, Jordan was the registered business agent for 25 North Carolina companies.
That month, the North Carolina Secretary of State informed Jordan that, at the direction of the state’s Department of Revenue, it was suspending the Achillean Group for failing to file required annual reports for four straight years.
Rather than sort out the company’s delinquency, Jordan created the Achillean International Group a month later.
The re-vamped Achillean continued its registered business agent services, listing the company name instead of Jordan’s on incorporation documents. It helped incorporate eleven companies in 2012 and 2013.
Achillean’s latest client, according to company documents, is the International Association of LGBT Investors and Private Business Owners, incorporated on Aug. 1, 2013.
The group’s website, also no longer publicly available, claimed that it’s “the largest private business association in the world boosting [sic] a membership of 1.5 [sic] members spanning the globe.”
The group has only officially existed on paper since August, but it has been one of Achillean’s six registered lobbying clients since 2010.
After I began reaching out to Jordan, he filed termination notices for all of his lobbying clients with the exception of the IALGBTIPBO.
Achillean’s website claimed that its lobbying work on behalf of the association helped spur President Barack Obama to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military’s policy against openly gay service members.
The association hired Achillean in 2010 to lobby for its repeal, the website said.
“One year ago when our corporate business clients asked us to to Lobby against and to come up with a plan to repeal the military's ‘Dont Ask Dont Tell’ policy we have delievered results as reflected with today's signing by President Obama into law the repeal and cancellation of the military's Dont Ask Dont Tell policy against gay's and lesbian's serving openly in the military [sic throughout],” a statement on the website said.
It claimed to be an effective advocate in Washington. However, according to its own disclosure forms, Achillean never actually conducted any lobbying work.
The company signed six lobbying clients in 2010 and filed quarterly disclosure forums for each of them. But all of those disclosures listed “no activity” for the respective periods.
Despite the lack of activity, Jordan was using his presence on federal lobbying disclosure filings to sell prospective clients on Achillean’s services. And some of those clients claim they were ripped off.
Which is why Jordan is facing another stint behind bars.
When I arrived in Greensboro, where Jordan was scheduled for trial on his latest counts of fraud, I decided to start my investigation at the Guilford County courthouse.
The court’s clerk dropped a three-inch stack of papers in front of me. And that was just for his latest arrest, on six counts of obtaining property under false pretenses and one count of possession of counterfeit instruments.
Portable scanner in hand, I left with a wealth of information. After interviews with some of his latest alleged victims, I was beginning to understand how he was using a system designed to facilitate transparency and good government to, it is alleged, dupe potential “clients.”
I followed my GPS to the address of the Crestwood Suites hotel in Greensboro, which court documents listed as one of Jordan’s most recent addresses.
I figured it was a dummy address, but thought it couldn’t hurt to try. I called the concierge and asked to be connected to Douglas Jordan’s room.
“Just a moment, sir.”
Well, at least I know he’s staying in the hotel, I thought. I left a message, knowing I wouldn’t get a call back.
I had to find him somehow. I called the front desk again, but the concierge wouldn’t give me his room number. I parked outside the hotel for hours hoping I might glimpse him coming in or out. No luck.
I’d seen this movie, I thought. A dashing action hero wields charm and subterfuge to infiltrate the bad guy’s penthouse at the Fairmont Monte Carlo or some such. There has to be some way to find his room number.
I tried ordering a pizza under Jordan’s name through an online delivery service, declining to give the hotel room and instructing the driver to ask the front desk for the number. I paid by card in advance, and included a hefty tip.
But the driver couldn’t get any more out of the concierge than I could. He had to leave the pizza at the front desk. I was still hungry, and out $20. I turned in for the night, planning to return but unsure how I’d get what I needed.
The next day’s stakeout didn’t go any better, and I was getting desperate. I withdrew $100 from an ATM in case I needed to bribe a maid for some information. I slipped into the hotel and started roaming the hallways.
Before parting with my C-note, I thought I’d at least try something desperate: I called the front desk and asked to be connected once again to Jordan’s room. I’d try as many times as the concierge would allow, I thought, while prowling the hotel hoping to hear a room phone ring.
On the first try, Jordan picked up.
“Hi, Mr. Jordan, this is Lachlan Markay from the Washington Free Beacon. I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a piece I’m writing on Achillean.”
Jordan said he was across town, which was strange. I hadn’t told him where in town I was.
“I’m actually in your hotel right now,” I said.
Jordan said he was currently traveling. I pointed out that he was speaking to me from his hotel room. He paused, and asked what I’d like to know.
“I’m not going to elaborate on that” was his phrase of choice throughout the conversation. “No comment” and “I can’t speak to that” were tossed out as well.
Achillean, he insisted, is a legitimate business that provides registered agent, consulting, and lobbying services for corporations and nonprofits.
He also denied any knowledge of the numerous felons that ostensibly run the businesses he lists as clients.
I continued to press on his criminal history, and he continued to grow more agitated. Eventually he said he had to leave. And he hung up the phone.
During my time in Greensboro, I visited Adina Bass, who, according to the Greensboro police, was one of six alleged targets of Jordan’s most recent scam. She and a group of friends and family members thought they were lined up for cushy jobs at a Greensboro rental car franchise.
Jordan told them that his company, Vulcan Transport Services, was hiring employees to drop off cars from a local Avis rental car location for Achillean clients.
He was a prominent lobbyist, he told Bass, so those clients were of some import. It all sounded very impressive.
Jordan had Bass and others fill out an employment application form, which they sent to him along with $100 application fees, ostensibly for background checks.
Avis told police that they were “unaware of this arrangement” with Jordan, but Bass said employees at Avis “vouched for him.” They knew him by name, Bass says, and Jordan conducted an informational session on Vulcan at the company’s Greensboro franchise.
Brad Dozier, Avis Budget Group’s Greensboro performance manager, would not comment when asked about Jordan. He also refused to give his name, though he sat behind a stack of business cards.
Dozier referred questions to an Avis security official who said the company played no part in the scam, and that employees there knew Jordan only as a customer.
Bass and Tia Barile, another target of the scheme, describe Jordan as a smooth-talking con artist who had all the right answers and presented every facet of his alleged scam in a way that made it look perfectly legitimate.
“He talked a really good game,” Barile remembers. Jordan made eye contact and answered all questions without hesitation. "From the way he was speaking and the way he acted, I felt like he was legit.”
“The applications looked so real,” recalls Bass.
Weeks after they submitted applications, said Antwan Wilson, Bass’ boyfriend and another would-be victim of the scam, they had not heard back from Jordan.
“He kept making excuses, pushing the [starting] date back,” Wilson said. Eventually, Bass Googled Jordan, found records of his criminal past, and immediately realized what was going on.
Wilson, Bass, Barile, and Lenny Mercado, the father of another of Jordan’s targets, set up a sting operation. They told Jordan that they had applications and accompanying fees for additional Vulcan employee hopefuls and suggested they meet at a diner in Greensboro.
They blocked his car in the parking lot of the Carolina Diner until police arrived. Jordan was arrested on fraud charges.
Police searched his car and found two black bags containing “numerous credit cards from several different banks, manufactured traveler’s checks drawn on Swiss Centurion Financial Services Inc., and … boxed check stock for the printing of checks.”
Jordan said that Swiss Centurion is a client, but its website, which, like the three others, was password protected within 24 hours of our interview, says it is an Achillean subsidiary. It also said the company is headquartered in Zurich.
According to the officer who conducted the search, “the travelers checks show that the bank routing number did not come back assigned to any documented financial institution, making them counterfeit on their face.”
The arresting officer noted that Jordan “offered to return the application monies to the victims but said he did not have the cash available at the time.” Wilson and Bass say they haven’t seen a dime but add that the $100 they each lost represented the least of their damages.
“Fuck the money,” exclaimed Wilson. “I lost my house. I lost my car.”
The trial of super-lobbyist Douglas Brice Jordan will begin on December 18.