• Report: #663884

Complaint Review: Steven A Berkowitz

  • Submitted: Fri, November 19, 2010
  • Updated: Sun, November 25, 2012

  • Reported By: Robert — Buxton Other United Kingdom
Steven A Berkowitz
1490 NE Pine Island Rd Cape Coral, Florida United States of America

Steven A Berkowitz Don't lend money to this man you won't get repaid Cape Coral, Florida

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: Steven Berkowitz Report, Martial Arts Training Institute

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I saw a request on Facebook for a loan to help Steven Berkowitz save his martial arts school - I lent him $7000 as the business seemed legit and he seemed to have a reasonable history as a martial artist.  The terms of the deal were that I could visit his school and then decide if I wanted a percentage of the school or to make the loan a personal one to him.  I visited his school (and even taught a free seminar there) and decided that I wanted the loan option.  We agreed repayment terms and he has defaulted (first payment should have been in August 2010) - he is not answering any emails from me...

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/19/2010 09:29 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/steven-a-berkowitz/cape-coral-florida-/steven-a-berkowitz-dont-lend-money-to-this-man-you-wont-get-repaid-cape-coral-florida-663884. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Steven Berkowitz Report, Martial Arts Training Institute

AUTHOR: Jay - (United States of America)

Let me state that I am a former employee of the MATI that was run by Steven Berkowitz, in Cape Coral, Fl. I met Steve when he was looking to expand the Institute by branching into community centers, non-profit organizations and low-income communities here in SW Florida.

I know for a fact that MATI was incorporated; had about the best facility of its type in the area when it was in the complex at Pine Island and del prado in cape Coral; had 7 staff instructors, all quite proficient and well-trained(Steve, Keith, Adam, Emmanuel, Chris, and Jesse); brought in some of the best instructors from other arts and schools from all over the US, including Moshe Katz(Krav Maga), Bill Wallace, some BJJ guys, some Japanese JJ guys, some KF guys, and even the guy Robert, who issued the complaint I read. Robert came to the school a day or two to check out a possible investment and purchase of the school.

I found Robert's complaint when I was checking for a way to contact Steve recently. he has dropped pretty much out of sight since heart attack #3 and the foreclosure of the 48 unit complex the school was located in.

I know that Steve helped many kids- hundreds of them- with not charging for classes, giving away uniforms, discounts on classes, free lunches during summer camp time, and did a lot of stuff in the Cape Coral community, all while taking no salary or personal expenses out of the school. matter of fact, he paid his staff instructors. most school owners don't, choosing instead to enslave their junior Black Belts in some nonunderstandable explanation of they trained you, you own them the next 30 years of you life over the monthly dues you paid. Berkowitz didn't do that. he paid us, every one of us, kept saying the workman is worthy of his hire. I know it was breaking him financially, but he insisted. he also helped some of us start our own schools, at his own expense. he set me up with a large(huge) city-run community center closer to my home and arranged for every dollar of dues to be mine, not his. AND gave me the first set of student uniforms at cost to get us underway. AND came to the location the first three weeks to help launch. Charged me nothing for any of that, wanted NO % of the monthly revenue from my school either. Good man.

As for this Robert guy...I was at the dojo the night of the Tai Chi workshop. Robert ASKED to be allowed to do it, wanted to see how the students would interact with him. Berkowitz didn't have to allow it. In fact, I don't know many high-dan level BBs that would allow a near-stranger to walk in and simply take the floor with his students. The Tai Chi workshop was ok. Not great. Not the best Tai Chi I've ever seen. In fact, Berkowitz holds a rank in Tc as instructor and even has college credits for the training time he spent. I've seen his transcripts. he is fully accountable and transparent when asked questions about just about anything. fact is, I have never seen a man so willing to own up to the mistakes in his life and own the resolution.

back to Robert- i was there, saw the events. Robert told us he was buying a home in cape Coral, would be moving to CC within 90 days or so, and was coming into a partnership with Berkowitz. Myself and 2 other BB staff members looked at each other(talked later about why Steve would allow this stranger even a taste of what was a good, no, great thing already moving forward). But, his decision we said. We did talk to him 2 days later about it.

Because the landlord was in foreclosure of the complex, we would need to put additional deposit monies into the rental when the new owner, PNC Bank, took possession. The landlord had kept the 9K deposit Berkowitz had paid instead of giving it to the bank against mortgage, and the bank was saying there was no record of any deposit. So, an infusion was necessary, and therefore, much as he hated it, he needed a partner. This Robert guy had responded and courted the issue for a month, then decided to make a trip from UK to inspect the school. He never did get to any of the satellite branches during his visit.

But the 7k wasn't a LOAN, it was a buy-in for 30% (a steal for Robert undoubtedly) of ownership. the non-profit was to become a for-profit upon completion of the deal, which was another $5k from Robert, and Robert would get contract signed to get 49%. At his final payout, amount unknown to me, he was to eventually take over the school entirely, with Berkowitz remaining on staff 180 days to transition all functions and responsibilities. Steve needed a pacemaker and knew if he could not get one, he would be dying within 2 years. He made each of us aware of that when we signed on, that the legacy he would leave was this work, MATI, and he wanted us each to develop a following and school of our own out of it.

Robert makes his side of the story sound like he was hustled. The truth is that Robert reneged on the deal. he found out his credit was bad after he put a big down payment on a house in Cape Coral. Turned out he and his wife had been running an accounting company self-employed and he was doing some self-defense teaching work, but they had tax issues with their government, which is why they were running from the UK authorities to the US.

But, he didn't renege during his trip to Florida. he waited until he got back to UK and about 10 days later called Berkowitz and said he couldn't complete his agreement because they were turned down for the house loan and weren't going to move to Cape Coral after all. Could he convert the purchase deposit into a LOAN, he asked. Steve recorded the call, played it for us(we were family and he had NO secrets from us) and showed us the emails that followed. Berkowitz held his ground- no, agreement stands, money was already given to the bank. Sorry, you own 30% of the school. Come and teach when you can. Only later did Robert decide that HE would impose the LOAN understanding. It was never the start point of the deal or in the deal, even while he was here. i witnessed the handshake and discussion between the two about them moving within 60 days and ownership.

Besides the issue of this very site being a blackmail and shakedown site by some lowlife lawyer, (did any of you see that for $2000 this shyster will help you 'restore your good name'?) if he didn't allow scumbags to file false reports in the first place, he would have to actually get a job doing something productive instead of helping bigger scumbags shake down honest businesspeople.

Robert was the hustler in this case folks, not Berkowitz. he's been great to me, to Adam Blum, Emmanuel Ortiz, and all the other instructors, and the students he cared for, loved, and provided for, to everyone I've watched him deal with. This guy even gave food to families that were on tough times while allowing their kids to keep training. Straight up, solid business with compassion. Doesn't deserve what this guy and the drug trafficker guy are being allowed to do to him.
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