Update: Not in Good Character: 17 County Schools Owed $14,100 for No Show Ravens Appearance

A company in Annapolis promised some schools Ravens players as guests for anti-bullying and character education assemblies, but didn't come through.

Update/11:40 a.m.: Officials at the Board of Education now report 17 schools with over $14,000 tied up with Odyssey LLC.

Update: This company has scheduled appearances with no shows in other school districts.

What was supposed to be a lesson in building character and anti-bullying for county students backfired for a growing number of schools when an Annapolis company failed to produce the celebrity guest—a professional athlete—to their planned school assemblies.

According to school officials, as of Wednesday, a total of 16 county elementary, middle and high schools were left with no professional athlete to talk to the students on the topic of character building and anti-bullying—putting the county out $13,000, according to Bob Mosier, Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman.

(SPMS) paid $1,950 to the Odyssey Group LLC of Annapolis, to have Baltimore Raven cornerback Lardarius Webb be a guest speaker at their anti-bullying assemblies. The school canceled the assembly a few days before Webb was scheduled to make an appearance on Oct. 11 when SPMS administrators learned that other guest speakers hadn't shown up at other schools as promised by the Odyssey Group. 

Other schools paid between $500 and $1,950 to Odyssey LLC to book an appearance by either Webb or another unnamed Baltimore Ravens player. As of late Wednesday, the list of schools owed a refund was continuing to grow:

Middle Schools: Severna Park, Arundel, George Fox, Central, Crofton and Lindale.

Elementary Schools: Crofton Meadows, Mayo, Rippling Woods, Central, Riviera Beach, Severn, Fort Smallwood, Richard Henry Lee and Phoenix Annapolis.

High School: Arundel High School

"It's not the schools' fault and not the players' fault," said Mosier, adding that the appearances are not booked through nor have any involvement with the Baltimore Ravens organization.

A letter sent to the affected schools on Oct. 7 from Trunnell Law, LLC in Crofton, explained that their client, Joseph Gill of Odyssey Group LLC, was not able to fullfill the obligation. However, the law office is no longer representing Gill. “We did represent him [Gill] for a short period of time in October. We are not representing Mr. Gill or Odyssey any longer, Matthew Skipper of Trunnell Law, LLC said on Wednesday.

According to the letter attached as a PDF to this article, Gill formed a relationship with a booking agent for the Baltimore Ravens but didn't anticipate such a positive response from county schools. The schedule quickly filled up with promises to the schools of Baltimore Ravens players to visit for assemblies—while the working relationship with the booking agent disintegrated.

"We are working now to assess how many schools are involved and the options that are available to help the schools reclaim that money," said Mosier. "That’s where we are at the moment."

Mosier said that some schools, like SPMS, were promised Webb while others were promised nonspecific players. Some schools paid first and then were reimbursed by their PTSO, said Mosier.

"This was a venture on the part of the schools to provide character lessons for students. It is very disappointing that it ended up the way it did," Mosier said. "We like to have community partners involved with the students. They were the ones who lost in this situation. Our effort at this point is to examine the ways we can help those schools and parent groups recoup the money.” 

“We can’t undo the disappointment of children who have missed out on these assemblies, but our schools deserve to be made whole so that there isn’t a double penalty of losing this opportunity and the funds to put on future programs like it that benefit so many students,” wrote Mosier in an email.

The Board of Education's Office of Legal Services is working on the case.

Leslie Hunt October 28, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Patch will have an update on Gill tomorrow a.m. - stay tuned.
joe mahma November 12, 2011 at 12:03 AM
So what's the latest in this story?? I assume the FBI is chasing him? Have you even bothered to contact them?Has he been caught and you don't know it yet?N offense, but yous readers are giving you tips you're doing nothing with. Leads me to believe this is just a hobby, get around to whenever you get around to it.
joe mahma November 12, 2011 at 12:25 AM
Dear Tyler, I was lucky to have received a private school education and never set foot in a public school. In my 20's however I came across many teachers and noticed their simplest common denominator--None of these women had a clue as to how the real world works, they just show up every morning and the lights are on, the heat is on, the textbooks are paid for, etc. They do not understand business PERIOD! No they didn't deserve to be robbed, they are not even that smart, especially the administrators. And really, at the end of the week? All they really care for is getting their check and going home.Very little in their world involves "due diligence" at any point. Does it?
Leslie Hunt November 12, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Joe - We're investigating a complaint from an area business that was scammed and will include an update on his status in the near future. According to his neighbors in St. Margarets, he left town about a week before the story broke here.
SFH April 10, 2014 at 11:52 PM
After searching the name of "Joe Gill" and "Odyssey LLC" I came across this blog and found the need to post recent activities that may be of interest to those of you here. Your blog confirms the reason for my search which was to determine if there were claims outside of Lebanon County PA regarding Mr. Gill. As of today, Mr. Joseph Gill was found "not guilty" of charges in a Lebanon County (PA) courtroom on 7 charges of fraud and theft by deception for 3 Lebanon County schools. Evidence showed money was given, services were not provided (a celebrity was to appear at the schools for an anti-bullying program) and the money was not refunded. These facts were indisputable but the conviction had to do with "intent" to deceive. The evidence provided did not support proof that Mr. Gill took the money with the intent that he would never provide the program for the schools. Evidence provided appeared to support a breach of contract but not a criminal intent to deceive. The fact that there were additional schools in the same predicament elsewhere was never presented in court. Evidence appeared to support the legitimacy of his business. Sadly, it was the evidence NOT presented in court that was needed to protect these schools. This information was incriminating and would certainly have affected the final verdict. I am so sad to realize just how much our judicial system protects the dishonest. The Lebanon County jurors carefully and with great thought followed the orders of the law. They came to the only verdict possible based on the rules they were given to follow and the evidence provided. Because of this, they failed their schools wih a "not guilty" verdict. No, they did not fail their schools....the legal system failed Lebanon County.


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