West Michigan residents voice concerns over suspicious vans

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GREENVILLE, Mich. – Residents in Montcalm County are concerned over a suspicious fleet of vans. Decals on the vehicles indicate they belong to the Maverick Dirt Road Street Team, a group that sells CDs and merchandise on behalf of country rap artist Mikel Knight, based out of Nashville, Tennessee.

“I’m very concerned about what exactly is going on,” said Kathy Maguire of Greenville. “The vans look awesome, but just because you have a nice van doesn’t mean you’re a legitimate organization.”

Kathy isn’t alone – and she may be right. According to published reports, similar drivers  in other parts of the country and working as part of the Maverick Dirt Road Street Team have been charged with selling Knight’s merchandise without a license to do so. As for Knight – whose real name is Jason Cross – our research indicates he has an extensive criminal background, including several assault charges dating as far back as 1996.

“We don’t like people coming to our doors selling laundry soap,” said Maguire. "We don’t like people selling meat out of the back of the van, and I don’t like fancy vans showing up just to sell CDs."

But what Maguire and many others are perhaps equally as concerned about is the working conditions facing members of the Maverick Team.

“Are they taking out Social Security?" wondered Maguire. "Are they helping these guys with insurance? And are they making sure they have beds to sleep in at night? Are they themselves in trouble?”

FOX 17 News reached out to Montcalm County Sheriff’s officials and Greenville Public Safety but did not get a response.

Online reports indicate Knight has roughly 20 decaled vans and two large tour buses, both of which Greenville and Howard City residents reported seeing over the weekend.

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  • tnts

    There has been a lot of publicity about these people and almost none of it is good. I personally would not buy from them. They are under this Mikel Knight’s thumb and from what has been reported, he is not at all kind to them. He is raking in a bunch of money and they are slaving for him to fill his pockets while they get next to nothing except empty promises.

    • tman63841

      This isn’t really a recording artist. They’ve started a multi-level marketing sort of thing and they have dozens of vans all over the country with shady people showing up at businesses where soliciting isn’t even allowed and they’re incredibly pushy. If you encounter one you won’t be able to go in to the store/gas station without them following you to the door and you won’t be able to get in your car without hearing the pitch all over again. And these aren’t exactly Jehovah’s Witnesses in suits and ties, they look like folks you’d see on a prison work detail.

      Saying this is just a recording artist trying to make it big is like saying Amway is just some guy trying to sell a couple things to feed his family.

      • Tony

        First off all they are not pushy they are trying to earn a living I encountered them and they were nice, and when I told him I wasn’t interested he said “good bless you, have a nice day”that was end of it, so if you don’t know, quit paying lies

    • tman63841

      Let’s also keep in mind that part of their pitch is that the proceeds “go to charity”. Um no. Although there are a few modest donations here and there the “singer” trumpets endlessly, the fact is they’re aggressively harassing people for “donations” then pocketing a percentage of the money and sending the rest off to Jason Cross, who every so often throws out a few thousand to St. Jude or somebody like that.

      That would be sort of like me hounding a senior citizen to let me mow their yard for $100, saying the money goes to my church, and then pocketing $99.95.

  • herlovelyviolet

    They we’re also spotted in Emmet county this afternoon on Monday September 7th around 3 pm. They we’re in Alanson and proceeded south through Petoskey. From there I am not sure where they went. How ever we also reported it to the local sheriff’s department.

  • Gn

    People will ALWAYS find something to complain about. Good grief. If they come to YOUR door just say ‘No Thanks’ if you’re not interested.

  • jamie

    So your going to discriminate people who go door to door selling things so girl scouts go to door heck I know of a girl scout leader who has a DUI and is still a leader can’t make a decision off of peoples past

  • Missy rogers

    We were in caddilac parking lot parked next to them with our Rv. The Montcalm police officer bought a cd from them while we were there. Walmart asked them to leave after awhile and they did. People get too dramatic. Why is it someone elses concern if they work for little pay. They are young guys traveling across country. Sounds fun if you were that age. The cd sucked and they had to explain who they even were, but the t-shirt was okay. If you don’t want to buy it…. don’t.

  • tman63841

    I’ve encountered one of these vans before. They were stopping at area gas stations and hounding customers. They’re incredibly pushy and don’t want to take “No thanks.” for an answer. And I’m a large man, I can’t imagine how pushy and abusive they’d be to women and teenagers.

    Several friends in other towns around here have bumped into them and had basically the same experience. They get in your face and try to strike up a conversation with you, follow you almost into the business you’re trying to frequent, and follow you back to your car as you’re leaving. Very, very unpleasant. Imagine the most difficult experience you ever had with a a religious person visiting and trying to convert you, multiply that by ten, and have it occur while you’re trying to get gas on the way to somewhere else and you get a feel for what they’re like.

    They also give you the impression they’re not just trying to sell music and t-shirts but as if they’re basically homeless and you’re keeping them from eating that night. They don’t come out and say it, but that’s kind of the vibe they’re trying to send.

  • Allison

    This isn’t citizens looking to just be invasive of other people’s business and just trying to stir the pot. I happen to have seen one of these vans in the southern part of Upper Michigan at a local gas station. I was at this particular gas station, getting back into my car as I was about to leave when a young man in a cowboy hat, long sleeved flannel, jeans and cowboy boots approached me with a “Howdy Ma’am! Do you like country music?” I had to chuckle as I was asked this question as I happen to loathe any everything associated with the country music genre. He tried to sell me a CD anyway even after I told him my feelings about country music (what a salesman!) But this kid seemed nice enough so he and I talked for maybe 3 to 5 minutes before I had to be on my way. I asked him some questions during our short conversation like who this artist was that he was pushing CD’s for and he pointed across the parking lot to an obnoxious looking van with the name Mikel Knight all over it. My immediate thought was “Wow, this “artist” is super lame to be bragging that he wrote the music for a reality show on MTV about teenage rednecks to try and sell CDs”. After I left the gas station I didn’t think about my run in with that nice guy until later that evening. Something really bothered me about my encounter and I couldn’t put my finger on it. That’s when I decided to activate detective mode. I naturally checked out Mikel Knight’s FB page which was filled with mostly promotional material. After digging deeper on his FB page, I saw this whole story involving a former employee of Mr. Knight named Ky Rogers. Google it, I’m sure you’ll read both sides of it. The alligations are pretty serious and were quite disturbing to me. I won’t get into that whole thing because it’s basically a case of “he said, he said” but there were unsubstantiated claims about MK being involved with human trafficing and slavery (he’s apparently filing lawsuits against those who started those claims, so be careful… this guy isn’t afraid to sue). I still have a bad feeling in my gut about this MK guy and still have so many questions that haven’t been answered…

    “Are your employees given allotted amounts of money for food and lodging?”
    “Are they paying into social security, workman’s comp, or are they just getting cash under the table?”
    “You’ve had 1.2 million people buy your album? Then why only just over 122,000 likes on your FB page?”

    Bottom line… I’m don’t know if this MK guy is legit or not. All I know is that he’s left a lot of very valid questions unanswered. Would I be weary if I saw another MK van in my hometown? Absolutely. Nothing wrong with being cautious.

  • Sam

    Apparently our state attorney general is too busy trying to convict cancer patients of marijuana possession to do anything about blatant criminal activities like this.

    • James

      I was not going to put my nose in this but the most of You piss me off. You all have to look at the biggest picture of all if they was once criminals, be thankful thay still are not. Thay are trying to better themselves by going straight. Or would you rather they take your car, or break into your house. With that i say leave them alone nosey fucks…

  • scott

    I spotted one these vans last night in Curtis,WI last night around 11pm at the Abby Land truck stop. One of the employs showed me a picture of the van. She said she got an alert about it but wasn’t sure if they needed to call the Cops. Are these guys wanted for anything or should the public just steer clear of them?

  • bill

    The crazy cat lady is right! We need to stop these terrible people from trying to make a living! They make folks like her and I who contribute nothing to society look bad! For the sake of the community, if you see anyone with a criminal past trying to better themselves by attempting to run a legitimate business, report them to fox news!

    • K.German

      They were just in Indianapolis/Greenwood Indiana yesterday in my work parking lot. One of them came in and was very polite and introduced himself, even shook our hands. Showed us a music video, explained what they all did. We we declined to buy anything (which i am a huge fan of many of the artists they were talking about) there wasnt any issues. They did sell some cds, but it wasnt a bad ordeal. After a couple hours they left. Simple as that. But as far as if they are legally/ licensed to do that, idk. Just wanted to share my experience with them. –KG

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