This story was updated a few hours after the original posting.
I never thought I would read a story like the one that is in today's Salt Lake City Deseret News. Three men were arrested in connection with a drug investigation that involves customer records of Heritage Creations, a genealogy company that publishes Heritage Quest magazine and runs an active mail order business.
You can read the sad story on the Deseret News web site. If you are a Heritage Creations customer, please note that the last line in the Deseret News article states, "Anyone who recently purchased items from Heritage Creations is asked to call the Davis County Sheriff's Office at 801-451-4100."
NOTE The following contains my personal opinions.
I have known the owner of Heritage Creations as a friend and colleague for a decade or so. I have always had a very high opinion of him and of his business integrity. It is obvious to me that the actions of one family member should not reflect upon the owner.
If you are one of the customers affected, please cooperate with the authorities so the perpetrators can be punished. Once the matter has been cleared up, I am confident that Heritage Creations will once again be a reliable resource for genealogists.
The above was posted on the blog at 2:30 PM Eastern time. A short time later I received the following message from Leland Meitzler, owner of Heritage Creations. I think it confirms my earlier statement of Leland's business integrity.
The following was written by Leland Meitzler:
This is the most difficult blog I have ever written, but I have to. This site is used primarily for news in the genealogy community. And I think this is news - even if it reflects badly on me.
It's taken me some hours to get this posted as I've been dealing with media, detectives, and trying to figure out how much damage our customers may have been exposed to.
My son, Lee Meitzler, age 33, is a meth addict. That's a long story and there's not enough time, nor room here to cover it. But it's not pretty - and it's been very hard on his family. For those folks out there that have kids with drug problems, you know what I'm writing about. Also - please don't confuse Lee with his brother, Dale, who many of you know, as he travels with us a lot when we go to conferences and so forth. Dale isn't involved with drugs, and after years of watching the battles his brother has gone through, says he's considering a job in law enforcement.
Yesterday morning, about one A.M., we were awakened by the phone, and the gentleman calling identified himself as a Davis County Sheriff's deputy. He told me that my son was in trouble, and would I mind coming down to the business? Patty and I immediately went to the Heritage Creations offices.
I own a 5th wheel RV that was recently temporarily parked off to the side of the parking lot, awaiting repairs. Lee has lived in the RV for over a year at a local RV park, but we moved it down to the offices where we have plenty of space and tools - planning to reinsulate the entire underside, which froze last winter. The work hasn't been done yet.
There's a woman involved in this story, but I've got to be careful what I say. Lee would be living in my home - and most likely would have been clean from drugs - and any other crime - if this complicating factor hadn't been involved.
Back to the events of yesterday - My parking lot was filled with about 4 patrol vehicles. The deputies were the "good guys," and filled us in on what they had found.
It seems that there had been "friends" (According to Lee, they were Lisa's cousin Deanna, and her "old man," supposedly on vacation and were only in the area for a few days.) These folks would show up in the morning at the RV and come and go, in what seemed to be a random pattern. I'd questioned the story, but gave Lee the benefit of the doubt - thinking he was "clean," and believing Lee when he said they would be leaving soon.
Thank God for turn signals! Sometime late Monday night, one of the deputies had made a traffic stop of a vehicle that didn't use a turn signal. According to the deputy, upon questioning the 2 male occupants and checking their ID, they both had warrants out for them - one of them to the tune of $60,000 for forgery. In the trunk of the "rental" car was a mobile meth lab, as well as all kinds of driver's licenses, credit cards, social security cards, etc. Upon further questioned, they implicated Lee. The deputies went to Lee's RV, and upon knocking, invited them in. Lee, Lisa and Dina were all there.
The deputies proceeded to search the RV - and found a supply of drugs, someone else's computer that had been accessing questionable internet sites, and a number of manila files - all containing financial information. These files were made up of all kinds of stuff - 99% having nothing to do with Heritage Creations. The majority of the stuff dealt with one gentleman, and his investment accounts. There was also evidence found in the RV that made it look like someone was attempting to produce false IDs - using my scanner and printer.
Found under Lee's mattress was a bundle of Heritage Creations receipts for eBay sales - most of which had credit card numbers on them. I'm guessing there may have been 50 to 100 receipts. Whether these receipts were involved in any kind of identity theft, we have yet to find out. At one time, we sold quite a bit on eBay, but haven't done a whole lot there the last year or so - mainly because Lee was the person who worked those sales and he wasn't reliable.
After informing Patty and I of what was happening, the deputies took Lee to the Davis County Jail, and sent the women down the road. The girls will be charged with drug possession, but they were not jailed, as Lisa claimed a headache.
The story in the paper is somewhat confused in that the reporter was working off a police report, but that's understandable.
At this point, we have no reason to believe that anyone's credit card information was used fraudulently. It looked to me like there may have been a plan being put in place to try to do so, but it doesn't look to me like it happened yet.
We will be sending out announcements to all of our customers informing them of what has taken place. If anyone reading this blog has used their credit card with us in the last year, it might not be a bad idea to take a look at your credit card statements. If you see anything that looks out of line, please contact us. Note that we don't believe that anyone's credit card information was used, but I can not guarantee it as of this moment.
I was informed a few minutes ago that Lee was to be arraigned at 1:30 pm. That was an hour ago. I am doing my best to cooperate with the detectives and will forward any information that I have that may help in settling the case.
I'm having a lot of problem in getting this posted as media keeps arriving. Looks like I be on most of the local news shows tonight. I'm now combating headlines like "Do your genealogy and they'll steal your identity! Utah police bust alleged crooks."