Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Council to dig into LegalShield scheme

From LegalShield's website...

Plainfield City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal by LegalShield to have the City collect the fees due from city employees who wish the organization's services by way of a payroll deduction.

LegalShield representatives suggest that such an arrangement was promised by the Robinson-Briggs administration; Corporation Counsel Minchello insisted in a public meeting that the City has entered into no such agreement.

In a thoughtful email from resident Alan Goldstein to Mayor Mapp and the members of the City Council, he asks the Council to consider the wisdom of going down this path.

Not only that, Goldstein supplies a link to a business listing for LegalShield on the NJ Business Incubator Network (NJBIN) website (see here).

This is where it gets interesting, as the contact listed for LegalShield is none other than Jeffrey Dunn, who also happens to run Plainfield's The Incubator/The BOSS, which is a member of the NJBIN network. However, the contact information in NJBIN's newsletter for The Incubator (see here) differs from that of the LegalShield listing. Why?

So, some of the questions the Council would do well to have answered include --

  • What is LegalShield and what services does it offer its clients?

  • What is the relationship between Mr. Dunn and LegalShield?

  • How does LegalShield qualify as an appropriate activity for a business incubator like The Incubator/The BOSS?
About Legal Shield

LegalShield is a nationwide legal service products firm headquartered in Ada, Oklahoma (see company website here; and Wikipedia article here). Founded in 1972, it has gone through several transformations over the years, being renamed LegalShield in 2011 after being acquired by the private equity firm MidOcean Partners (see more here), which specializes in leveraged buyouts.

As a multi-level marketing company, it markets its products to both individuals and small businesses and individuals are encouraged to recruit others to purchase the firm's services, thereby earning commissions for themselves. As the Wikipedia article notes, the firm has had several scrapes over the years with regulatory authorities over misrepresentations of one sort or another in their marketing. There are no reports of unfavorable actions against the company since MidOcean Partners took over in 2011.

The Council would benefit from probing exactly what services are provided by LegalShield for both its legal services plan and its (newer) identity theft protection plan. What is actually delivered may in fact be far less than prospects believe is being offered.
The Relationship of Dunn and LegalShield

Jeff Dunn's listing for The Incubator in the NJBIN newsletter.

...and his listing for LegalShield in NJBIN's
business-to-business directory. Note the different contact info.

Secondly, the Council should get to the bottom of the relationship between Mr. Dunn and LegalShield.

Does Jeffrey Dunn have a financial relationship with LegalShield?

Does he stand to benefit financially if the premiums of subscribers to LegalShield services are collected by way of a payroll deduction by the City of Plainfield?

It is quite understandable that LegalShield (and Mr. Dunn, if he has a financial relationship with the company) would want the City to collect these premiums by way of payroll deduction as the human proclivity toward inertia would reduce the falloff of subscribers as compared to if they had to be responsible themselves for each individual payment.

Should the City of Plainfield be LegalShield's (or Mr. Dunn's) bill collector?
Is LegalShield Appropriate for a Business Incubator?

Lastly, since Mr. Dunn and/or his surrogates have come before the Council on more than one occasion involving money matters that -- one way or another -- would benefit Dunn, it would be helpful to have a frank discussion of just what sort of ventures are appropriate for a business incubator such as The Incubator/The BOSS.

While many people -- myself among them -- think of incubators as places to nurture fledgling businesses that have made a convincing pitch or demonstration project involving innovation and technology, this seems to be totally absent at The Incubator/The BOSS.

LegalShield is an existing large scale business entity. It operates by drawing in new subscribers for its services -- much like Avon, Amway or Tupperware. Where is the innovation? Where is the use of cutting-edge technology?

How does LegalShield create new jobs for the Plainfield economy? How does it benefit anyone but Mr. Dunn financially?

What is the ROI (return on investment) after all these years of supporting The Incubator/The BOSS for Plainfield?
Getting some clarity on these issues would give the Council and Mayor Mapp's administration a sort of divining rod for moving Plainfield forward.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

It's all a SCAM Council member's Reid, Brown, Taylor, Geaves, and Rivers are all going to go to JAIL. They sit around and VOTE on matters that are criminal. Legal Sheild have also became one of PMUA payroll deductions. Dunn and Saunders are running the PMUA. I hope the Five stooges' wake up SOON

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If the employees want to have this deducted from their pay then WHY not?

Some employee's do not have a checking account I am one of the employee's that do not have ac checking account but need the service.

Anonymous said...

Anything to do with the Dunn's should be avoided at all costs. Whenever the city gets involved with them it costs the taxpayers too much money.

stevekilduff said...

Great post! You earned your money today.

Rebecca said...

I am glad you wrote about this,Dan--you saved me a blog post. I have many questions--for example, how is it that LegalShield can be in a business incubator? That means that all those Amway distributor and folks who have other MLM and pyramid-based businesses can participate. I look forward to the discussion.


Anonymous said...

To 12:10pm - The reason why not is that it is a private company that wants to use Plainfield Government as a collection agency. What's to stop Church's to come to Plainfield and ask them to deduct money from their parishoners?

It costs the city money in time and manpower. Who is going to input this information (time away from city duties). What happens if the deduction is wrong? City government person needs to take time away from their duties to figure it out.

It is a private organization, and as such, should take care of its own billing. They are using the city as a collection agency for non-city collections. That's why not.

Anonymous said...

Remember Jeffrey Dunn's vigorously defending the PMUA at the last Council meeting? Of course his daddy is one of the commissioners the Mayor wants to replace, and I don't blame him. This is just another scam.