Sam Antar Blog | Thanks to Marc Cohodes, We’re Back to the Bad Old Days at Overstock.com | Talkmarkets - Page 2
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Sam Antar is a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the CFO of Crazy Eddie, Mr. Antar helped mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980s.

Today, Sam Antar is a forensic accountant. His primary work focuses on identifying and investigating public companies ... more

Thanks to Marc Cohodes, We’re Back to the Bad Old Days at Overstock.com

Date: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:18 PM EST


This was a statement of fact, not opinion. Yet all of a sudden, poof! The liar of December 2013 has become the Boy Scout of 2017. Remember that we are not talking about a high school student who used to fib. This is a grown man, 55 years of age, who was CEO of the same public company then and now.

Cohodes misrepresents concerns about Byrne, which relate to his current integrity and honesty, as the “2005 investment playbook.” He has nothing much to say except that he was “wrong” about Byrne. When queried about Byrne’s past record of nutty behavior, his response is along the lines of “what are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes?”

Cohodes began accumulating the stock in mid-2017 and started hyping it on October 10 at a Grant’s conference. His sudden, dramatic and unexplained “change of mind” about Byrne has paid off in multiple ways. My last Seeking Alpha blog described how his name mysteriously vanished from Deep Capture after he began to accrue shares, hype the company and slobber over Byrne.

Cohodes has not disputed the accuracy of my blog. He has called being mentioned in Deep Capture a “badge of honor.” That is hard to believe, considering that the references to him, though mild compared to the personal attacks directed at journalists targeted by Byrne, must have grated at this very thin-skinned and vain man.

Cohodes now describes Byrne, who he said did nothing but lie four years ago, as a “visionary.” He has never explained—and no member of the media has ever asked him—what happened, other than his acquisition of shares, turned a pathological liar into a “visionary.”

When it comes to the integrity of its CEO and the longtime practice of hounding critics, there isn’t a “new Overstock” or “new Patrick Byrne” any more than there was a “new Nixon” in 1968. Byrne, who has refrained from antics in recent months, now has Cohodes to roll down in the mud for him. He has become the kind of stock promoter that the Cohodes I knew a short while ago, before he loaded up on Overstock shares, would have found disgusting.

On Twitter, Cohodes tries to build a facade of respectability, thumping his chest over press freedom and over-eagerly praising journalists who haven’t crossed him. He spends a lot of time attacking CEOs who have only a fraction of Byrne’s evil track record. But his main passion is not shorting miscreants but shilling for one, and copying his new friend’s time-tested tactics.

In this blog I will describe how Cohodes and his allies have reprised the role that Byrne used to delegate to a small coterie of Internet hoods, led by a self-styled “black ops” hood named Judd Bagley. Bagley founded Deep Capture and engineered the cyberstalking and character assassination methods that made the company a laughingstock and toxic to analysts and the media, attacking critical reporters and boosting those who write superficial puff pieces or kiss his butt. Cohodes loves investigative reporting, except when it costs him money. He recently trashed CNBC, much as Byrne used to do, for not hyping Overstock.

Bagley founded the company’s much-hyped cryptocurrency initiative, but left when his forgery conviction and drug addiction made him too controversial even for Byrne. He is now director of communications at Evernym, Inc. in Utah.

While there is no new Overstock, but there is a new Bagley.

‘Lay off Byrne….. Leave him be, as a favor to me’

I first communicated with Marc Cohodes in late 2007 after I had already turned my life around, and had received favorable publicity by Joe Nocera (NY Times), Floyd Norris (NY Times) Brett Arends (Boston Herald), Herb Greenberg (Wall Street Journal and Market Watch), and many others (Documented herehere, and here) I had already taught about accounting fraud to dozens of law enforcement agencies, companies, professional groups, and universities. His public comments that he somehow fished me out of the gutter are, quite simply, lies.

Since he makes such a fuss about my failing to show him sufficient “loyalty,” I would like to point out that I have never done any compensated work for Cohodes, and he has never referred me to any person for paid work. I met him, stayed on his farm overnight when I taught at Stanford University, had dinner with him a few times, and attended his wedding. I gave him and his hedge fund friends a great deal of free forensic accounting advice and analysis. But I did not feel that either I was beholden to Cohodes or he to me. When I stopped by his house for dinner I did not sign away my conscience or agree to join him in pumping his future stock picks.

In late October, after I posted tweets showing mild concern about Byrne’s track record, I received the first of a series of incessant, manipulative, repetitive, sometimes delusional text messages from Cohodes, in which he portrayed himself as my long-lost savior and myself as an ungrateful child. (Full disclosure: I am a few years older than him.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 1:34 PM Eastern Time

Marc Cohodes: Lay off Byrne… what are you trying to accomplish?

Sam Antar: Byrne has had plenty of time to make amends. He is exploiting you. To me, he’s defective merchandise. He hasn’t changed. He’s just bad product in a new box.

Marc Cohodes: Leave him be, as a favor to me…

He wore me down and I consented. But his demand for silence just to line his pockets grated at me. He had no right, none whatsoever, to shut me up. Who did he think he was? It began to get me upset. I had many other friends who I knew a lot better than Cohodes who were slandered by Byrne and felt betrayed by Cohodes. Their feelings were no less important than his, arguably a lot more so. He believed that since he now owned the stock he was more worthy of deference than the many who did not.

Also, I thought that Cohodes was, to be frank, “losing it.” He had copied me on a bullying, guilt-trip email he sent to investigative reporter and author Gary Weiss a week earlier that was just plain creepy. (I describe the email below.) Mutual friends were expressing bewilderment, as well as irritation, about his behavior.

I told Cohodes that I could not in good conscience remain silent on Byrne simply because he, now a large Overstock shareholder, didn’t want me to.

The text messages started coming again. He wouldn’t leave me alone or respect our difference of opinion. He had built up in his mind that I “owed him.” He reminded me of the Jackie Gleason character, “Maish,” in Requiem for a Heavyweight, putting on the phony guilt, trying to force Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn) to act against his conscience.

Saturday, November 4, 2017, 2:40 PM Eastern Time

Marc Cohodes: Terribly disappointed in you

Marc Cohodes: Terribly

Marc Cohodes: With all that has gone on you promised me you would stop and you just keep going

Marc Cohodes: That’s a shame

I didn’t respond to his con game. More texts came. I decided to respond.

Monday, November 6, 2017, 4:53 PM

Sam Antar: You are correct that I agreed to your request that I would stop criticizing Overstock and Byrne, but my conscience said otherwise. Byrne did a lot of bad things and has [I meant “hasn’t”] anything to make things right. In any case, take care and goodbye.

Sam Antar: Correction: Byrne hasn’t done anything to make things right.

Marc Cohodes: Really?

Sam Antar: People were hurt by his smears, libel, and innuendo

Marc Cohodes: Noone more than me…

Marc Cohodes: Suit yourself

Sam Antar: True, but this is not only about you. Other people were hurt by the bad things Byrne has done. In any case, all the best.

Marc Cohodes: Who Sam? Who can’t turn the page?

Sam Antar: Byrne could’ve turned the page a long time ago. He hasn’t. It’s up to him to make things right.

Marc Cohodes: Byrne has let it go… up to you Sam, It makes me sad I m (sic) so disposable to you…

Marc Cohodes: You gave me your word..

Sam Antar: Friends correct friends when they are wrong as I’m trying to explain why you are wrong. What you requested, I could not in good conscience carry out. Byrne’s lies are still all over the internet. He can still make things right. He has an earnings call this week. Let’s see what he does or doesn’t do.

The comment that Byrne “has let it go” bothered me. Let what “go”? That he had smeared people? Lied about them? How decent of him to “let it go” that he had behaved like a snake. It reminded me of the time Klaus Barbie was interviewed at his hideout in South America and said of his victims "I've forgotten. If they haven't, it's their concern.”

There was more infantile nagging, more manipulation, more guilt-tripping over imaginary “favors” he had done for me. He wouldn’t let up, but just kept going on and on. He was obsessed with getting me to shut up and join Team Overstock.

A few days later, Cohodes sent me a threat.

Saturday, November 11, 2017 3:39 AM

​Marc Cohodes: The way this comes down Sam is that after all of the energy I focused on improving your reputation and business I dont have the heart to rip you apart. Its truly sickening how you behave towards the only person who stood by you when no one would. I will ignore you till you one day make it right again. [emphasis added]

I responded by reminding Cohodes that “I repaired my reputation long before I met you among the people who matter.” But Cohodes wasn’t interested in reality.

Byrne offers to take down Deep Capture—for a little while

On Nov. 17, Cohodes texted me to say, “I have arranged a truce.” I then was contacted by a third party who Marc also was hounding. The so-called “truce” Cohodes/Byrne offered was laughable. Byrne would temporarily, for an unspecified period of time, take down Deep Capture if Gary Weiss and I deleted all of our tweets! Our tweets could not be reinstated but Byrne could and would put Deep Capture back up at the press of a button. For some reason that remains a mystery to me, our tweets were causing major angst on Salt Lake City. But not enough for Byrne to do more than offer a “deal” that was an insult to the intelligence.

I was aware by this point that Cohodes had already gotten himself edited out of Deep Capture. I was also aware that even permanently deleting Deep Capture at this late date would have been an empty gesture.

What is needed is to repair the reputational damage he has caused, not a “truce” or a “deal” but for Byrne to do the right thing: to retract his lies, apologize, and replace his Deep Capture smear site with a big, fat statement of contrition. He needs to retract all the smears that he planted in the media and that still occasionally pop up. He needs to make amends, not manipulate. He needs to keep in mind that even a retraction and apology, years after the slanders he published, would not mean much to a lot of victims of his malice, and that many no doubt would rightly reject his apology.

Byrne has a lot of work to do if he really wants to set things straight, so he had better get going. Which he will do just as soon as pigs fly and hell freezes over. Byrne is the same old con artist and smear peddler that he has ever been.

The personal attacks begin

After this “truce” nonsense was rejected, Cohodes began to turn up the attacks flowing from his increasingly vitriolic, bitter Twitter feed. His attacks became hysterical and personal after I published on Nov. 27 the Seeking Alpha blog, "Marc Cohodes Buys Stock And Vanishes From Overstock CEO's Smear Site.” In that blog I described how Cohodes was carefully edited out of Deep Capture after he began accumulating a stock position that he has described as “not small” and started hyping the company and putting Byrne on a pedestal.

Cohodes responded with two types of personal attacks, which he has repeated monotonously to this day, sometimes using identical wording. He never responded to the substance of my last blog and I expect more of the same for this one.

First, he criticized me for not owning or shorting the stock. His opinion is that only people with conflicts of interest, people "talking their book,” are worth a damn. That is the exact opposite of how things are in the real world, as opposed to whatever imaginary life Cohodes occupies at his chicken farm.

I hope that the reporters who suck up to Cohodes, or that he sucks up to, remember that the next time he tries to pitch them on something. To Cohodes their opinion is worthless, unless they agree with him. They’re “bleacher bums” who don’t have “skin in the game.”

He also has whined endlessly that because I had dinner at his place, and once held a chicken in front of the camera, I had committed a grave personal betrayal. As noted, that was due to a personal history that existed only in his mind.

Cohodes became more and more out of control on his Twitter feed, calling me a "Pathetic individual and a sociopath." He even had the bad taste to invoke my son, who passed away a few years ago, saying that he “supported Sam when he needed it the most during his son’s death.” That makes it seem as if he was sitting with me, an arm around my shoulder, comforting me in my grief.

That would have been awfully sweet of Cohodes if he had done that. But he didn’t. It just happened in his fertile imagination. He sent me a very nice, very brief email, as did hundreds of other people who are not asking me to pump their portfolios. People who actually did visit me and who were there for me think that Cohodes is off his rocker and despise Overstock. None of them has ever tried to manipulate or guilt-trip me over that or anything.

For him to even mention my son in an effort to make money on stock was cheap, unethical and infuriating. My family was deeply offended, and I think that Cohodes was intentionally trying to not only promote his miserable stock holdings by that tactic but also cause pain to me and my family. Not even Patrick Byrne stooped to such disgusting tactics.

His followers are so blinded by their money lust that quite a few of them actually “liked” that tweet (see screenshot below). Among them was Evan Lorenz, Deputy Editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, where Cohodes made his Overstock pitch. Lorenz is “EL” in the screenshot. Lorenz is an active defender of Cohodes on Twitter, which doesn’t strike me as appropriate behavior for an editor of a respectable newsletter. (Click on image to enlarge.)
 

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