St. Petersburg Tribune
Clearwater Firm Clears Out Amid Investigations, Suits
Mark DouglasGlobal Funding LLC, a financial company in Clearwater that is the subject of four government investigations, three lawsuits and dozens of complaints, is out of business, according to a public relations firm hired by Global.
Published: November 3, 2008
Published: November 3, 2008
Last week, numerous complaints from long-distance truck drivers across the nation about the business practices of Global Funding LLC were the subject of investigative news reports on News Channel 8 and tbo.com.
Monday, the company's offices at 14450 46th Street N, Suite 104 in Clearwater were completely bare, no one answered the phone, and no forwarding address was left on the door.
The sole indication that Global Funding LLC has filled that space in recent months is a white decal on the door with the company name and corporate logo.
Global employed as many as eight people in recent weeks under the ownership of managing member Jeffrey Maricle, who started the company at another location in 2004 and has moved at least twice since then.
Maricle was in the business of arranging leases for long-distance truck drivers and others in need of heavy equipment but had run into a lot of problems with truck drivers who either lied on their credit applications or tried to back out of deals, he said.
News Channel 8 and tbo.com located at least 20 drivers in 12 states who complained Global took thousands of dollars in lease deposits and advance fees - in one case nearly $21,000 - and refused to return the money when the deals went sour.
Florida truck driver Joseph Barretto says Global owes him about $8,189 that he gave the company for a lease deal on a truck that never reached fruition because of Global's shifting demands and changing terms.
Barretto's immediate reaction when a reporter told him Global is out of business was "Oh, boy."
The company's shutdown diminishes Barretto's chance of getting his money back.
On the other hand, Barretto says he is pleased that no more truckers will end up in the same situation.
"I'm very happy with the fact that they're not conducting business like this anymore," Barretto said.
Global's business practice of keeping large deposits as "earned income" when leasing deals fall through is the subject of pending investigations by the Florida Attorney General, and the Pinellas County Office of Consumer Protection.
Clearwater police forwarded two of the seven complaints investigated by economic crimes detectives at that agency to the Pinellas State Attorney for possible prosecution.
No one at Jeffrey Maricle's home in Clearwater answered the door.
Glenn Selig, a public relations man hired by Maricle after a reporter from News Channel 8 started asking questions, said the company has "shut its doors" because of a difficult business climate, not the complaints of customers or pending investigations.
Selig said Maricle will cooperate with investigations from the Florida Attorney General's office who have been trying for months to obtain company business records in response to more than 40 complaints from customers across the nation.
Two of the customers suing Global Funding LLC have trial dates this month.
Mark Douglas can be reached at (727) 536-9603