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Pixelon.com founder confesses he is fugitive embezzler

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The founder of Net start-up Pixelon.com is actually a fugitive embezzler living under a false name and a wanted man in the state of Virginia. Michael Adam Fenne raised $35 million from private investors to start the online broadcast network last year. California-based Pixelon's launch party in October cost $12 million, and included a rare set from aged rockers The Who. But it turns out that Fenne was born David Stanley, the son of a Baptist preacher in south-west Tennessee and a convicted embezzler on the run from the law. In 1989 he pleaded guilty to 55 counts of fraud, allegedly swindling elderly victims in Virginia and Tennessee out of around $1.25 million. He vanished seven years later before repaying all the money he owed and has been on Virginia's most wanted list for the last four years. Last Wednesday Stanley turned himself in to US authorities after being unable to dodge his past any longer, the Associated Press reported. Fearful that Virginia State Police had tracked him to his new home in San Bernardino, California, the 39-year-old returned to Virginia and confessed all at the Wise county jail. "He just came in and said he wanted to get this thing settled up," said Wise County Sheriff R D Oakes. "He seems like a real jovial type person. He don't seem to be too upset". Stanley, ousted from Pixelon in November after a difference of opinion over the direction of the company, last week persuaded a judge to grant him access to the Internet. He wants to liquidate his assets in California and start repaying his remaining debts – estimated at between $300,000 and $160,000. Pixelon officials were stunned when told of their former colleague's criminal background. "It's just absolutely shocking to everybody here," said a representative. "We'll be conducting an investigation into exactly who this person is." Robert Feldman, Pixelon chief technology officer, said the investors in his company should not feel defrauded. "Whatever happened in the past isn't my business, and for the duration that Michael – I have to call him Michael – was here the company was run properly," he said. "The investors bought on for the technology... Once Michael departed and we were able to kind of redirect our focus to being a technology company and an enabler of technologies, we're doing great." Feldman added officials have ordered a special audit at the company, but did not suspect Stanley of embezzling from Pixelon. ®

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