FAIRFIELD — A song titled “Tangerine Honey,” a Las Vegas headliner, the Jelly Belly Candy Company, a lawyer in Elephant Butte, N.M., and a Bay Area man seeking millions of dollars are all in the cast of a pair of lawsuits winding their way through the Solano County courthouse in Fairfield.
The lawsuits, one filed last year, the other filed last month, are by David V. McCracken, a Richmond man who in one of his lawsuits identifies his hometown as “Richman.”
McCracken claims he invested hundreds of hours trying to bring together Jelly Belly and its top brass with Frankie Moreno, a hunky heart-throb singer who leads his band most nights at the Stratosphere Casino. The link between the candy maker and the showman was Moreno’s song, “Tangerine Honey,” that McCracken says was a great match for a flavor of jelly bean.
McCracken claims everyone agreed with his concept until he got frozen out the deal. Now he wants more than $2 million, claiming he is the victim of slander, breach of contract and interference with prospective economic advantage.
Bob Simpson, president and chief operating officer of Jelly Belly, strongly disagrees with McCracken.
“There is no merit to the claims and we intend to vigorously defend against it,” Simpson said Friday.
Moreno (www.FrankieMoreno.com) and his manager did not respond to invitations to comment on McCracken’s allegations.
The older lawsuit, they largely overlap in their claims, is set for trial in February 2014. That trial date may not come to fruition since McCracken’s lawyer, Susan Lea of New Mexico, recently succeeded in a months-long effort to drop her client and get out of the lawsuit.
McCracken, now acting as his own attorney, claims he came up with the jelly bean flavor marketing plan based on Moreno’s song in June 2012. He claims Moreno signed onto the idea the next month in what McCracken describes as an “oral partnership” with the pair splitting the proceeds of the scheme 60-40. McCracken says he then spent 640 hours developing the project until the partnership was “wrongly dissolved.”
Part of the project included Moreno headlining a charity benefit at a popular Benicia nightspot in September 2012. A few weeks before he made an appearance on the hit TV show “Dancing With the Stars.”
Jelly beans were prominent at the Benicia event, according to McCracken as reported by the Benicia Herald newspaper.
Moreno’s performance coincided with the release of four collectible tins of tangerine-flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans that tie in with Moreno’s signature song, “Tangerine Honey,” McCracken told the Herald, adding that a large, Stratosphere-shaped container packed with Jelly Belly jelly beans would be on-hand and attendees could pay $10 to guess at the amount of beans and maybe win a stay at the Stratosphere and get VIP tickets to Moreno’s show.
The Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported on their hometown crooner’s “Dancing With the Stars” performance of “Tangerine Honey” preceded by Moreno’s visit to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, adding that it was the first time Jelly Belly has ever developed a bean flavor for an individual or a song.
“Tangerine Honey” was a first that did not last.
Jelly Belly spokeswoman Tomi Holt said her company does not make that flavor of jelly bean.
McCracken blames the lack of Tangerine Honey Jelly Belly beans on Jelly Belly CEO Herm Rowland and the company’s vice president of marketing, Robert Swaigen. McCracken says they had “developed a strong dislike if not hatred for him” and that they “decided that they were going to try and destroy (him) and the Moreno partnership.”
McCracken is expected to be in court for his lawsuits in December in front of Judges D. Scott Daniels and Harry S. Kinnicutt.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.