Portland alt-country musician Kasey Anderson has been sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding over 30 investors out of $586,000 by vowing to hold a concert and release a compilation album benefitting the West Memphis Three (who were infamously convicted of killing three boys in 1994 before being released from prison after DNA evidence exonerated them).
According to Seattle Post-Intelligencer (via Stereogum), Anderson claimed that the benefit show would feature guests like Tom Petty, Johnny Depp and Pearl Jam, with the album including spots from Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen (through nonexistent collaborations with Arcade Fire and Lady Gaga) and R.E.M. – though none of the artists reportedly had any knowledge of such an event.
How could someone rake in $586,000 based on such a lofty scheme? The con man used e-mail to impersonate relevant people – including music critic-turned-Springsteen manager Jon Landau, various tour managers and relatives of the West Memphis Three. Anderson's victims have not been completely repaid, but the musician has apologized in a letter written to the court, blaming his actions on mental illness and substance abuse.
"I am a deeply flawed and mentally ill person who made some terrible choices, causing so much emotional and financial damage to others," Anderson said. "But I believe I have much to offer my community. I am so sorry for what I’ve done and want so badly to make it right. . . I lied to myself and others, and believing those lies, I told myself consistently that whatever was going on with me. . . I could fix it on my own. I convinced myself that it was normal."
Anderson previously released a handful of solo albums and opened live shows for Counting Crows (who covered his track "Like Teenage Gravity" on their 2012 LP, Underwater Sunshine). He also fronted the band Kasey Anderson and the Honkies, which included Andrew McKeag, guitarist for the Presidents of the United States of America.