More than 100 women who slid through a 5K mud run at Buck Hill in Burnsville in June thought they were raising money for young cancer patients. So did the Wisconsin charity affiliated with LoziLu’s races across the country.
Yet the charity hasn’t gotten a dime from LoziLu in 2015.
What neither the runners nor the charity knew, until later, was that the man running LoziLu is serving 20 years’ probation for theft by swindle, a felony, in a rich court-documented history of stiffing people. Frederick Bradley Kellogg, the 62-year-old man from Pequot Lakes, Minn., who bought the mud-run company in December, has racked up at least 60 judgments against him and his various past companies. He owes at least $2.6 million.
The family that runs the tiny nonprofit, Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric, or L.I.F.E., says it knew LoziLu’s owner by the name Brad Peters. Michael McLean said that when his family confronted him last month, Peters admitted the felony, that his last name was Kellogg and that the switch was to “get a fresh new start.” He has repeatedly assured them they would get a check.
“My brother is turning in his grave,” said McLean, whose brother Eric died in 2012 at age 28 of leukemia. “It blows my mind that someone like Brad can come along and profit off my brother’s death and promise he will help other cancer patients, and never does. Who the hell do you think you are?”
That Peters and Kellogg are the same person was first reported in ObstacleRacingMedia.com after LoziLu abruptly canceled mud runs this summer. Business records, e-mails with Kellogg and talks with LoziLu affiliates and the McCleans all indicate Peters is Kellogg. He has run LoziLu through Fresh New Taste LLC, a company registered in Colorado to his wife, Johannah Kellogg, and in Minnesota to his lawyer, with his wife as a manager.
Responding to a Star Tribune e-mail, Kellogg said that Fresh New Taste bought LoziLu in December and that he is the sole owner. He canceled its remaining mud runs in mid-July, he said, because runners weren’t signing up as expected and insurance costs rose. All runners who paid registration fees have either received a full refund or will get one, he said.
“We sincerely regret having to cancel these Mud Runs and disappointing valued customers but the financial circumstances simply made it impossible to keep operating and looking at losses that would only compound the problem,” Kellogg wrote. He declined any interviews and did not answer other questions.
Kellogg’s probation officer said he didn’t know about LoziLu. A condition of Kellogg’s parole is that he maintain a full-time job or school schedule and be law abiding.
Kellogg had a probation violation for failing to make payments on his restitution.
Aiming to be a ‘big shot’
There’s nothing in Kellogg’s middle-class upbringing in suburban Mound to explain how he blossomed into such a serial debtor, said childhood friend John Skinner. Skinner, who attended St. Cloud State University with him, recalled someone who would give you the shirt off his back.
But Kellogg wanted to be a “big shot,” with a large home and nice cars, Skinner said. He also habitually promised to repay debts, without following through, Skinner said.
The judgments stretch back to 1993, mostly in Carver County, along with numerous state and federal tax liens. Courts have ordered Kellogg and his companies to pay creditors at least $3.4 million over the years, records show.
Of the 60 judgments, the Star Tribune could confirm that only about seven were satisfied. Many judgments simply expired, as they do after 10 years if not renewed.
About two dozen remain active. One is the $1.6 million Kellogg was ordered to pay Wisconsin-based S.C. Johnson & Son. The corporation hired one of Kellogg’s companies in 2004 to promote its OFF! Deep Woods insect-repellent towelettes around the country. S.C. Johnson alleged that Kellogg lied about his company and then made off with more than 2 million towelettes and a $133,500 cash advance.
Kellogg tried to dig himself out by filing for bankruptcy protection five times. But all cases were dismissed because he either failed to make payments or didn’t show for hearings, or because creditors — including his brother — intervened to say Kellogg filed in bad faith and had no intention of repaying victims.
Kellogg also stiffed close friends. One was a groomsman at his wedding to whom he still owes $64,000 from a loan.
The bulk of Kellogg’s bad debts are linked to his various companies, many of which dealt with marketing and promotions: Kellogg Group, Kellogg Media, Media Solution Providers, The Park Programs. The scores of creditors are largely other businesses.
A misdemeanor charge
In 2006, a Delaware staffing company decided to press criminal charges. Kellogg wrote a check to the company on a closed bank account to pay for workers to run a “hot dog sampling” at the Dover Downs casino. He was charged with two counts of theft by check. The felonies were reduced to a misdemeanor after Kellogg paid his fines and restitution and successfully completed two years’ probation.
It didn’t stop Kellogg’s money troubles. Golden Valley graphic designer Lance Como got a judgment against Kellogg in 2007, while Kellogg was on probation, ordering Kellogg to pay Como $3,568 for a batch of sweepstakes posters.
Como recalled checking in at the Carver County courthouse for the proceedings. A clerk commented that Kellogg wouldn’t come to court.
“I said, ‘What?’ and she said: “He never shows.”
Como said he dug into Kellogg’s history and sent a letter to the state attorney general’s office but got no response.
In 2012, Kellogg’s habits landed him a second criminal conviction. He sold three semitrailer truckloads of wild rice for Gibbs Wild Rice in Deer River, Minn., but pocketed the money.
“It wrecked our lives,” said former owner Greig Olson, who said his company went under as a result.
Kellogg was convicted of felony theft by swindle in Itasca County. He was sentenced to one year in jail and 20 years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $296,090.
Itasca County Attorney Jack Muhar said they were limited in the sentence they could impose because Kellogg had just one prior misdemeanor conviction.
Kellogg served less than half his time, and was released in the spring of 2013 after getting credit for work such as doing laundry and mopping floors, an Itasca County jail official said.
A year and half later, Kellogg bought LoziLu for an undisclosed sum. LoziLu’s founders, Francis Donovan and Brodie Birkel, declined to be interviewed.
LoziLu’s website is down now. A captured snapshot from February describes LoziLu this way: “A filthy 5K festival for all athletic abilities to love! … It’s all to help kiddos with cancer have a future of fun.”
Tamsie Ray, of Royalton, Minn., said she paid around $60 to run the June Buck Hill race.
The event was so poorly organized — a water slide was partly deflated, another obstacle broken — that she contacted “Brad Peters,” Ray said.
He apologized, she said, and told her he would send four special T-shirts to make up for the mishaps.
Ray said she contacted him twice when the shirts didn’t show. The refrain: “I’ll get them in the mail tomorrow.”