Since the I-Team began its investigation into allegations about Quanell X, nearly two dozen people have come forward claiming the community activist owes them money.
Many of them gathered at the KHOU-TV studios last Sunday. They had never met before, but they shared a common bond—they say they paid Quanell X and claim they got little to nothing in return.
They paid him because they say they believed in his image as a guardian of the black community.
"I felt he had helped a lot of people,” said Debbie Jane James.
“I really admired what I thought he stood for," added Gerald Mills.
They paid because they say they had nowhere else to turn.
"I was desperate," said Kimberly Plaza.
“Like everybody else we were desperate," said Miranda Navarro.
And they paid with money they couldn’t afford.
"I told him that I didn't have any money yet, so I told him that I was going to retire," said Sharon Faniel, who went to Quanell X after her son was charged with a crime.
“So he asked me how much would I get for my retirement, and I told him I was getting ‘13’, so he said ‘Sister that case is going to be about ‘13.’”
Thirteen, she said, meant $13,000.
Ultimately, Faniel said she gave Quanell X $8,000 and was told that would pay for an attorney and private investigator. But she claims she got neither.
“And when I tried to contact him about a receipt, he's like, 'You got the wrong number,'” Faniel said.
In all, the group of complainants told the I-team they forked over more than $50,000 total to Quanell X. Some say they were fighting job discrimination issues. Others claim they were fighting for loved ones in jail. And they claim they were drawn in because of hope.
“He promised, promised, promised," said Barbara Henderson.
"He could do this and he could do that," added Bridget Tyson.
What did that mean?
"I was supposed to get on television," said Kimberly Plaza.
"Get an investigator on it," said Bridget Moore.
Whatever their cause, they say their image of Quanell X was clear.
"’Quanell X for Justice!’ and I wanted justice,” said Gertrude Sardinea.
“And I got nothing, I got conned," she said.
Sardinea said she gave a $2,500 check to Quanell X to help get her son a new criminal trial. But instead—“I got no help, no help,” she said.
And receipts show Bridget Moore wired Quanell X money after her son got in trouble with the law.
"He wanted $800, but I only sent him $600," Moore said.
But once paid, Moore said the activist virtually disappeared.
"I had to keep calling him, he never would return my calls,” Moore said.
But some say they got lucky and got Quanell X on the phone, like Kimberly Plaza.
"He called me ‘Dr. Pepper’ when he called me, ‘Miss Dr. Pepper,’" Plaza said.
That was the soda company Plaza worked for and was suing in court. But after paying Quanell X $5,000 for help on the case, she said she got little in return, and that included the courtesy of remembering her name.
I-Team: “Miss Dr. Pepper?”
Plaza: “Miss Dr. Pepper.”
I-Team: “What does that tell you?”
Plaza: “He didn't know who I am, he didn't know nothing about me, he didn't care. You think I have an extra $5,000 to give you to manipulate me? No! No!"
In the end, all of the alleged victims claimed that they ended up where they started—without justice.
"He didn't do anything," said Vanessa Ray.
"I'm sorry, he never helped me," added Mary Wheeler.
They also say they ended up without the money they scraped together.
"He took all of us and used us," said Sharon Alexander.
"He wasn't going to do nothing for me and he wasn't going to get my money back," said Annie Faye Booker.
The I-Team sent Quanell X a list of the people we interviewed and a summary of their complaints. However his attorney, Robert Alton Jones, said first they needed to see the interviews before they aired, which is against standard journalistic practices. So far, there is no comment from Quanell X.
But during recent radio interviews, he called our stories unbalanced, not factual, and revenge against him for giving exclusive stories to other TV stations.
He also said he's helped thousands of people over the years, so it's not unusual to have some people not satisfied with his work.