RACHEL, Nev. (FOX5) -- The alien invasion may be over, but a legal battle is brewing between the participants and organizers of Alienstock, an event that stemmed from the viral sensation "Storm Area 51 - They Can't Stop All of Us."
Connie West, the owner of the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, filed a complaint in Nevada District Court against Matthew Roberts, Brock Daily, Frank DiMaggio, John Greco and The Hidden Sound, a company based in Arkansas.
The complaint was filed on Sept. 17, just days before Alienstock was scheduled to kick off at the Little A'Le'Inn.
In the complaint, West alleges that Roberts, Brock and The Hidden Sound withheld funds from a sponsorship for Alienstock and made defamatory statements that the event in Rachel was cancelled.
A FACEBOOK EVENT GOES VIRAL
A little over two weeks after Roberts posted the Storm Area 51 Facebook event, West began receiving hundreds of phone calls from people asking about room availability at the Inn for the event, the complaint said.
While the Storm Area 51 event was "advertised as being in Amargosa Valley," people showed more interest in Rachel due to the town's proximity to Area 51. According to the complaint, all the rooms at the inn had been booked by July 13.
Between July 15 and 16, another 11 artists reached out to West offering to provide entertainment for the event, the complaint said.
To prepare for the influx of visitors, West said she began arranging 30 acres of land surrounding the Inn to be cleared so visitors could park and camp. West also ordered 30 portable restrooms.
Around this time, Roberts began saying the Storm Area 51 event had been moved from Amargosa Valley and asked people to meet him in Rachel at the Inn, according to the complaint.
To collect funds for the event, West and other residents of Rachel built a website where visitors could pay for and reserve parking and camping spaces, the complaint said. On July 24, West said she began preparing an application for the Temporary Mass Gathering Permit from Lincoln County.
On July 31, Roberts and Daily arrived at the Little A'Le'Inn and asked West what was being done to prepare "for the masses of people that were expected to arrive in Rachel," the complaint said. West, Roberts and Daily talked, walked the grounds and agreed to work together for Alienstock.
As part of their agreement, West requested that Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound, where Daily works as an officer, pay for security, medical services, fencing, additional portable restrooms and "any other form of infrastructure that would be required for such a large-scale music festival," the complaint said.
After further discussion, West said she, Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound agreed to share the net revenue, after expenses. According to the complaint, the three defendants assured West they would provide funding for the event and solicit sponsorships.
During the first week of August, the event name was officially changed to Alienstock and all parties agreed the event would be held from Sept. 19 to 22 in Rachel, according to the complaint.
Over the next few weeks, West said she began complying with state and local licensing requirements, placed orders for merchandise and made arrangements for food, entertainment, beverages and vendors. West was also in constant contact with Roberts, Daily or The Hidden Sound, either by phone, email or text.
All defendants "failed to provide any of the funding they represented would be forthcoming for the necessary infrastructure and arrangements for Alienstock," the complaint said. "[West] repeatedly asked about funding for expenses and requested that a formal contract be signed between the parties."
In mid-August, Daily proposed the contract and, after some revisions, Roberts and Daily said they would sign the final agreement on Aug. 19 at the Lincoln County Commissioners' meeting.
West, Roberts and Daily attended the meeting, but the defendants indicated to West they wanted to sign the contract the next day at the Inn, the complaint said. Roberts and Daily failed to sign the contract on Aug. 20, but West said she continued to act in good faith "and continued to perform as expected and intended under this final agreement, for which Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound accepted all benefits."
On that same day, West said she learned Roberts and Daily were working with the Alien Research Center in Hiko to host a "back-up event." According to the complaint, Roberts and Daily told West the reports were "fake news" and that they were working exclusively with her.
Throughout August, Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound continued to assure West that she wouldn't incur any expense for Alienstock and that all sponsorship money and funds would cover necessary expenses, according to the complaint.
"Such representations were false when made and continue to be false," the complaint said.
West said she did not receive any funds or money generated by Roberts, Daily or The Hidden Sound.
MONEY TROUBLES CONTINUE
On Aug. 26, the Little A'Le'Inn received a copy of the Temporary Mass Gathering Permit for Alienstock.
Shortly after, West said she was informed by Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound that the porn website Pornhub had committed to pay $70,000 for sponsorship and product placement at Alienstock, the complaint said.
While West said she communicated with the site to figure out logistics, stickers and stage outfits for Pornhub representatives, Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound still had not "come through with the promised funding," according to the complaint.
Even though West said she assured all that the funds were to be used specifically for Alienstock, "Roberts, Daily and/or The Hidden Sound kept and has unjustly retained the $70,000 monies wired by Pornhub for their personal benefit," the complaint said.
On Sept. 2, West said she paid Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound $5,000 for their half of the revenue from Alienstock parking reservations. The next day, while waiting to the Lincoln County Commissioners' meeting, West was given an invoice for $30,720 for emergency medical services, and a second invoice for $74,000 for event security.
West said she "began scrambling to come up with the funds to pay the invoices for these services required by Lincoln County," according to the complaint. Shortly after, West said she was approached by Samuel Scheller, who asked if he could reach out "to some people" on West's behalf to help with covering costs, and acquiring sponsorships for Alienstock.
West drove to Las Vegas on Sept. 6 and attended a meeting with DiMaggio and Greco. Almost immediately, the men began demanding that West surrender control of the Alienstock website and provide them with her financial records related to the event, the complaint alleges. West told Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound she didn't feel comfortable doing so.
After the meeting with DiMaggio and Greco, West, Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound agreed to continue working together. According to the complaint, West texted Daily on Sept. 7 to get a copy of the vendor list so she could finalize planes. Daily, instead, allegedly demanded the same information DiMaggio and Greco had during the Sept. 6 meeting.
West said she "refused Daily's demands" for the financial documents and when Roberts and Daily stopped by the Inn on Sept. 8, all had seemingly managed to workout their differences, the compliant said.
A CHANGE IN PLANS
On Sept. 9, West said she had received a call from a filmmaker who was working with Roberts and Daily. According to the complaint, the filmmaker allegedly told West that Roberts and Daily were speaking with DiMaggio and within minutes, they told West they would no longer be working together on Alienstock.
Roberts began saying Alienstock had been cancelled and that the event had been relocated to a smaller, one-day event in downtown Las Vegas.
On Sept. 12, Roberts issued a cease-and-desist letter to West, and the organizers of Alienstock, that said the festival was "in absolutely no shape to proceed" and cited inadequate planning for the thousands of people who were expected to show up.
The letter also accused West of failing to provide "any plan for security, medical services, and adequate insurance."
"Such defamatory statements by Defendants are ongoing and continue to cause mass public confusion and harm the reputations of Little A'Le'Inn and West," the complaint said. "Moreover, Roberts, Daily and The Hidden Sound have been falsely representing to the public that they own and created Alienstock, despite the fact that the creation of Alienstock was a collaboration with [West]."
As of when the complaint filing on Sept. 17, West said the Little A'Le'Inn spent or incurred $109,000 in expenses for Alienstock, while West spent between $5,000 to $6,000 in personal funds to help cover expenses. According to the complaint, West is seeking $50,000 in damages.
Lincoln County Emergency Manager Eric Holt said at it's peak on Friday, there were about 3,000 people camping at Alienstock, as well as hundreds of people who drove out for day trips.
Holt called the weekend an overall success. He said the county spent a lot of time preparing and planning, so all the necessary departments were ready. It turned out to be a manageable-sized crowd, which Holt said helped.
Sheriff Kerry Lee said the events in Hiko and Rachel were relatively peaceful. A Canadian citizen was arrested in Hiko for indecent exposure, but was later released. A second, alcohol-related arrest was made and the suspect was transferred to the booking facility in Pioche.
There were two separate occasions where the gates of Area 51 were "stormed."
Around 3 a.m. on Sept. 20, a crowd of about 40 people surrounded the parking lot of the Alien Travel Center in Amargosa Valley. The Nye County Sheriff's Office said the crowd threatened to storm the gates of Area 51 near Rachel.
The crowd was compliant with demands from deputies and eventually the crowd dispersed, Sgt. Adam Tippettes with NCSO said. Parts of the crowd gathered at the north and south gates, but were given "heated warnings" when confronted by law enforcement.
About 150 people were at the gates in Rachel and approximately 50 people were at the gates in Ticaboo Valley, according to Lee. He said the situation was calm and mellow. One person was detained, but later released at the gate.
By about 5 a.m., all participants "had retreated and dispersed," Tippettes said. "Everyone was compliant and peaceful."
Another, smaller group gathered at the gates of Area 51 around 3 a.m. on Sept. 22. Led by a man with a plunger, the group was made up of less than 20 people as they "charged" at the gates.
"They can't catch us all!" the man with the plunger shouted before sprinting towards the gates.
On Sept. 23, West said the event in Rachel was "fabulous, absolutely fabulous." She added she would do Alienstock again next year, if allowed.
However, Lincoln County has been left with a $250,000 bill.
Part of the tab includes:
- $90,000 for meals
- $10,000 for emergency fuel for law enforcement vehicles, some of which includes helicopters
- $36,000 for port-a-pottys and hand-washing stations
- $40 - $50,000 for personnel and travel to cover incident command structure
Lincoln County District Attorney Dylan Frehner said his office was considering legal action against Roberts, Daily and anyone who may have pushed the Area 51 movement. Charges would be reviewed as they came up.
Holt also said expenses also covered communication costs and the county has to pay for travel for other agencies such as Guardian Medical, Nevada Highway Patrol, Las Vegas Metropolitan police and the Nevada Division of Investigation.
County Commissioners are taking money from the "Land Fund Act" to pay the bill, which has some interest Lincoln County is able to access. According to Holt, the act has about $785,000 in it. He said he sent a letter of intent to the state to try to get up to 50 percent of the money reimbursed.
But it is a lengthy process.
According to Holt, the county won't see any money for at least a year.