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Parents Still Chasing Refunds, Music Customers Out of Luck

Many parents are still seeking refunds and answers after the closure of Main Street Arts.

Three months after Main Street Arts closed its doors for good, parents and businesses are still waiting for money they say is owed to them for classes, instruments and rent.

Jordan Malmed of Cross River placed a flute and trombone on consignment with Bramson's Music when it was still located in Mt. Kisco. After reading the he visited the Yellow Monkey Village in Cross River, where Main Street Arts founder John Burton had moved the music store's inventory after purchasing the business.

"There were no sign of any instruments there," said Malmed, who visited the location several times early this year, hoping to recover his property. "These belonged to my little girl. We are not a wealthy family that can shrug away the loss of these instruments that are worth $2,000."

Burton announced in December that the organization he founded with Paul Perez, Main Street Arts Children's Theatre, and —would terminate operations in Feb. 2012.

At the time, Burton and Perez expressed disappointment that their vision would not be realized. The failure of their vision included the closing of Bramson's, a 50-year old music business, and Encore Dance, both purchased by Main Street Arts in 2011.

Many families sought refunds for Encore dance classes that were suspended then re-located from Mt. Kisco to Bedford Hills. Lenore Pauline, mother of an 8-year-old dancer asked for a partial refund of the $1,147.20 she paid for six months of classes that lasted two months. Along with Susan Hoffman, another dance parent, she has not yet received any refund.

Local resident Amy Silverman was also affected by the Bramson's fallout, with a store gift certificate in hand but nowhere to spend it.

The families were encouraged to learn that Burton had, according to news reports, created a new email address for parents to inquire about refunds, msactrefund@gmail.com.

One individual Patch interviewed for its first story on MSACT, Gina Picinich, will not be needing that email. She said she received her refund on Dec. 19, delivered by Burton personally.

At least three lawsuits filed against MSACT are still pending, according to attorneys.

Steven Waldinger represents which filed a claim for $125,920 in back rent from when MSACT occupied space at their Bedford Hills studio. "We're expecting a judgement any day now," he told Patch.

Also pending is the suit brought by Barbara Ellen Bramson () alleges that Burton and Perez owe Bramson close to half a million dollars for the business, consulting fees and health insurance premiums for Bramson and her husband.

In addition, Carrie Tron of filed a lawsuit in January against John Burton over ownership of the Bedford Hills-based dance studio. Burton said in December he had purchased the business but Tron then disputed the validity of the contract. Tron, through her attorney, Elizabeth Rockelle, said she could not comment because of the pending litigation.

Burton did not reply to Patch's repeated outreach.

Perez, now executive director of the Eclipse Theatre Company in Mt. Kisco, was also not immediately available for comment. 

Peter Sattler April 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Can you say scam artist?
Another Concerned Resident April 12, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Main Street's website which is still active- http://mainstreetartscenter.org/mainstreetartscenter.org/Home.html -should indicate that there is a new email to contact him. Currently it still shows burton@mainstreetartscenter.org. Why do parents have to find out through news articles of his new contact info? Is he dodging parents? Just confirms his character further. Another article- http://www.lohud.com/article/20120409/NEWS02/304090060/Arts-center-owes-parents-merchants?odyssey=nav%7Chead -also indicates that he is "sorry parents feel the way they do". John should try to feel sorry for what he's done and not about how parents feel about his actions. Just ridiculous. I hope justice is served.
ActiveResident May 09, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I, for one, cannot wait for the other side of this story to come out. Mr. Burton refunded my family immediately, in person, and we had a very candid discussion. Not only did Mr. Burton and Mr. Perez do their best to make a great arts center for our kids, including mine, but Mr. Burton has been completely victimized throughout this entire process. This is a man who felt so deeply that things should be fair that he drove to my home to give me money back. I know how easy it is to suffer a flare up online, but Mr. Burton has remained available throughout this entire process, and should be commended for his actions. As a local business person, I can tell you, businesses fail, even when you don't want them to. To villianize Mr. Burton for his efforts is to discourage people from trying. And that doesn't help anyone. Not to make a pun, but bravo, Mr. Burton. I think my daughter learned something even more important than a dance step. She learned that people try, sometimes they fail, and after that, some people still do the right thing.
John Burton May 09, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I have pretty much avoided these sites, but I did want to clarify a few things. First, Jordan Malmed (not sure of gender so not sure how to appropriately address you), please do email me at msactrefund@gmail.com. I will follow up with you to find out what happened to your instruments. A quick note - I am going to make a few corrections in my comments here, but I would like to be very clear. Lisa Buchman has been fair, thorough, and completely professional in her reporting. Completely. If there are inaccuracies, then I would bet my feet they are because she has been given misinformation. With regard to Carrie Tron, there is an error here. Ms. Tron never filed a lawsuit against me. I filed one against her in January. As of this writing, Ms. Tron has not challenged the validity of the contract under oath or in any claim. I cannot comment further. With regard to Mr. Sattler's comment, you have the email, and I remain available to discuss what really happened with you at any time. I understand that you feel strongly about what happened. That passion for what MSACT could have been is precious to me. I would very much like to chat with you and answer any questions you might have. With regard to Bramson's, that is ongoing litigation to which I cannot comment at this point. But I will. I also cannot comment on the Pulse/Perez/Main Street Arts suit as I am not a party to it.
John Burton May 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Ms. Pauline, Ms. Hoffman, Ms. Silverman, please do write me at the email listed. I would like to get those issues straightened out as well. Another Concerned Resident, if you would identify yourself, that would be very helpful in determining what your agenda is. Given your vigilence in tracking stories about me, I would assume your agenda has little to do with Main Street Arts. But please do identify yourself. That would be helpful. Lisa Buchman is also correct that I did not respond to the Patch's continued outreach. I no longer have access to the emails at Main Street Arts, hence the new email, and thus missed Lisa's. We have established an effective way to communicate now. With regard to Ms. Picinich, thank you very much for being truthful. You have set a wonderful example that I hope is followed. Again, I regret that MSACT did not become what the vision was. And I am working hard so that when someone tries this again, and I hope they do, that they only have to fear failure with fair reprisal. At this point, besides the satisfaction of those who participated, that is the best footprint I can hope to leave.
John Burton May 09, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Finally, thank you so much to the parents and community members who have been supportive during this. I am very touched by that. I know that it is very easy to leave an anonymous disparaging remark on a website. It takes much more to approach me on the street and shake my hand, or buy me a beer, or tell my daughter something nice about me (all of which has happened), and that has made a tremendous difference in all of this. I stand by my original statement, this community deserves the vision that we had, and I truly hope someone else can bring this home.
Chad Savage May 11, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Asking others to identify themselves does seem a bit uncalled for, especially given all of the aliases we have seen in your past. And no, I am not "Another Concerned Resident". So where is the refund my family has been seeking since November John?
Sandy Patterson May 11, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I honestly just don't understand how the arts center failed? Where is the money? I think that if people new the legitimate reason for the center's failure, there may be less hostility. If the money was collected and spent, what was it spent on? Is Mr. Burton just a bad businessman, not a scam artist, just not as equipped as he thought and hoped he would be to take on this business? I just don't get it.
Another Concerned Resident May 11, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I find it interesting that the ONLY good comment about John happens to be an anonymous person. I also find it interesting that Active Resident wrote their comment at the same time you wrote yours... I doubt the editors and journalists of the patch would place items in their publications that have inaccuaries as you've stated- you've made headlines not only here but in other publications that ALL state the same about your business conduct. There are too many facts that prove what has happened. This has not been the only venture you've failed so spare us the poor me I tried drama and just pay people back so they can use the finds to truly support their children's desire for the arts at a reputable & honest company.
John Burton May 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Thank you for our discussion yesterday.
John Burton May 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM
You know my name. What is yours, and why won't you give it? I COMPLETELY understand why someone would be recalcitrant to make a positive comment here, when there are people like you who will say unfounded things and be afraid to stand behind them. I have been approached by many people who have offered, and I tell each of them the same thing, that I am grateful but please don't. What you go through from anonymous people is not worth it. As far as inaccuracies, while I cannot yet tell the whole story (but I will Ms. Patterson, and within a few days) why don't you anonymously check out a matter of public record, that I sued Carrie Tron and not the other way around? It is commentary like yours that prohibits people from coming out and wanting to be positive, for fear that anonymous misinformation like yours will wind up online so their children, like mine, get to read it for years to come. I have respect for Mr. Savage and Mr. Sattler, who have an opinion they are willing to put their names to. It is my hope to change those opinions, and at least they have the courage to stand behind what they say. This is the last time that I will respond to an anonymous writer, but I do think it is important to point out that your writings have discouraged people from writing positive things, and that negative anonymous commentary is cowardly as well as hurtful. I would never want anyone saying anything positive to go through what I have gone through.
Sandy Patterson May 13, 2012 at 04:14 PM
One last thing, if people have something positive to say they will come out and say it. Negative commentary will only fuel individuals on your side to stick up for you. The fact that it hasn't happened yet speaks volumes.
John Burton May 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Ms. Patterson, thank you for your comment. If you would like the rest of the story, please email me as msactrefund@gmail.com. I will reply with my number, which you may call at any time. Is that fair?

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