Hood River entrepreneur pleads not guilty in tax case

PORTLAND, (AP) — An Oregon entrepreneur who sells products intended to help people with an array of physical maladies has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he filed false tax returns.

Jim Cole, 66, of Hood River, is the founder of Maxam Laboratories and TurboSonic USA, companies that claim to help everything from autism and Alzheimer’s disease to varicose veins and vertigo.

Federal prosecutors, however, accuse Cole of being a modern-day snake oil salesman. Government agents started an investigation of Cole’s businesses in 2010, eventually seizing computers; 220 boxes of papers, files and records; and inventory and assets that Cole values at more than $1 million.

Court papers describe those assets as the ill-gotten gains of mail fraud. They accuse Cole of misrepresenting his nutritional supplements and exercise equipment as curatives. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis J. Hubel scheduled the trial for Dec. 10.

“I wish the IRS had brought these charges sooner,” Cole told The Oregonian after Friday’s arraignment in U.S. District Court. “But after they raided my businesses, terrorized my employees, ran off with all my inventory and ransacked my home, they chose to wait until now to charge me formally.

“And so until now, I’ve just had to wait. I get to have my day in court, and I look forward to showing my innocence of these charges.”

The government has leveled a series of allegations during the past few years at Cole, his companies and the supplier of powders that Maxam uses to make its nutritional-supplement sprays.

The supplier, Daniel George of Massachusetts, is said to be a chemistry genius but has no four-year college degree and served two stretches in prison for tax evasion and conspiring to make and distribute amphetamine, according to court records. But to date he faces no charges in relation to his association with Cole.

Maxam adds water to the powders George supplies and puts the mix in spray bottles, which retail for about $100. Cole estimates he has about 30,000 customers who spritz the supplements under their tongues for health benefits.

The government’s position is that Cole has routinely claimed that his dietary supplements and TurboSonic exercise machines offer curatives for his customers. Cole’s lawyer disagrees.

“Mr. Cole has repeatedly denied that he has made any false claims about his products, and he looks forward to a trial where he can show that to the world,” said attorney John J.E. Markham II.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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