LAKELAND — It sounded like a great deal: be a part of an upcoming concert featuring global entertainers Nicki Minaj and Drake, courtesy of the Lakeland-based music promotion agency Big Apple Music Group.
“Over (the) last 15 years, Big Apple Music Group and Mr. Don P. Concerts has grown to become the global leader for accessing big name entertainment for public concerts, corporate events and fund-raisers,” the firm’s Web site notes. “There’s no better reward for our hard work than applause from the crowd. We have put on quite a few concerts over the years and are always tickled to see how excited the audiences get. Whether it’s Nite club, 1,000 seat Venue or a 60k-seat Arena, we always find the right talent for our shows.”
On Monday, though, the couple promoting the concert got taken into custody by undercover detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, charged with operating a fake business that was taking in investment money for a non-existent concert.
Detectives arrested Phillip Michael Bradley, 46, and his wife, 36-year-old Evelyn Bradley, both of 2503 Coral Way in Lakeland, and charged them with scheming to defraud and grand theft.
It was not Phillip Bradley’s first brush with the law, noted Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the arrest.
In 2009, he was convicted of organizing a scheme to defraud in Palm Beach County.
“He has several other fraud arrests in his criminal history,” Eleazer noted. “Evelyn Bradley has a history of fraud in Wisconsin, and appeared in Polk County Court today (Nov. 19) for writing a bad check to the landlord of the home they are renting in Lakeland.”
The couple was booked into the Polk County Jail on Monday, following an investigation into the concert that was originally scheduled for Oct. 24 in Lakeland. As a pitch to investors, it was noted that there were benefits to becoming a part of this event, since the agreement included rental of a portable stage, generators, and stage skirting. The concert was advertised on the business website, www.mrdonpconcerts.us, and on Facebook. Tickets were billed for $75 each.
Despite the couple’s arrest, the concert’s promotional ad is still on that website.
The investigation began last September, Eleazer noted, when Phillip Bradley sent an agreement from Big Apple Music Group to rent Simmers-Young Park at 5630 County Road 542 West in Lakeland as a venue for the concert.
Acting on a tip that the event might be a hoax, a Polk County Sheriff’s Office undercover detective started an undercover investigation by posing as a municipal Parks and Recreational employee for the city of Lakeland.
The detective met with Phillip and Evelyn Bradley to do a walk-through of the park and discuss the upcoming concert, which the Bradleys said would be on October 24, moved up from an original date of Oct. 28 to accommodate one of the performers.
During the walk-through of Simmers-Young Park, the arrest report notes, Phillip Bradley told the detective that he was personally in contact with the management companies of both performers. While there, he chose a place at the park where a ticket sales booth could be set up, talked about hiring off-duty sheriff’s deputies as security officers, and “told the detective he intended to sell at least 10,000 tickets,” Eleazer noted.
At the same time, though, the undercover detective contacted the management firms representing both of the lead performers. What he found out was that both singers were planning to be somewhere else that day.
“Nicki Minaj’s representative told the detective that Nicki would be touring out of the country during that time frame,” Eleazer noted. “Drake’s representatives told the Polk County Sheriff’s Office detective that Drake’s birthday was on October 24, and he would be celebrating it in Las Vegas. Neither of the management companies for these two performers had heard of Phillip Bradley, or Big Apple Music, or entered into any contracts with either.”
The undercover detective also called the phone number listed for ticket sales and was told that the concert was sold out, but that some tickets would be available for sale at the park on the day of the concert — for $100 each.
When that day arrived, detectives “conducted undercover surveillance at Simmers-Young Park to see if anyone showed up for the concert or to buy tickets,” Eleazer noted. “Nobody did. There do not appear to be any ticket purchasers for this concert.”
That likely was a major disappointment to three people, interviewed by Polk detectives, who had invested money with Bradley in this concert, including one who the sheriff’s office said gave Bradley $16,000, and two others who gave him $10,000 each.
The $36,000 was deposited into Evelyn Bradley’s bank accounts.
“The day before the concert was scheduled to take place, Phillip Bradley contacted the victims and told them that the concert had been cancelled and that he was filing a claim with Loyd’s of London insurance to get them their investments back,” Eleazer noted. “None of the victims have received money from Bradley as promised.”
Detectives placed Phillip and Evelyn Bradley under arrest on Monday, and Phillip Bradley got charged with one count of scheming to defraud, a felony, one count of grand theft exceeding $100,000, also a felony, and one count of unlawful use of two-way communication, the Internet.
Evelyn Bradley got charged with one count of scheming to defraud and one count of grand theft exceeding $20,000, both felonies.
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