Canadian Magazine Industry News
27 July 2009,     MONTREAL
Revised and updated: Naked Eye publisher charged in "Project Machine"
Burton Rice, publisher of Naked Eye magazine, was arrested on June 3 after police raided a warehouse where, according to authorities, safes containing $3.4 million in cash were discovered. Rice, 34, has been charged with gangsterism, fraud exceeding $5,000, and conspiracy as part of a two-year investigation involving more than 600 officers from the Montreal force, the Sûreté du Québec, the RCMP and Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers, dubbed “Project Machine.”

Georges St. Pierre appears on the cover of the latest issue of Naked Eye.
Rice’s father, Peter, 52, and brother, Francis, 31, were also charged in the case, as was Naked Eye’s director of operations, Michael LeBlanc, who has been charged with fraud exceeding $5,000 and conspiracy. All charges against the Rice family members and Michael LeBlanc are related to alleged tobacco production and selling.

According to police, the warehouse was operated by the Rice family on the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve outside of Montreal. A press release said the warehouse had magnetic doors and security cameras, ten-foot-fences, and security officers guarding the property 24-7.

Police allege that known Hells Angels members used the warehouse to meet. Two alleged members have been arrested and charged as part of Project Machine.

The Rice family and LeBlanc have pleaded not guilty to all charges and were released on bail, on the condition that they not visit the warehouse.

Naked Eye, a magazine about pop culture aimed at 18-to-35 year olds, was first launched in 1999 but sank after just one issue. In the fall of 2007, Rice decided to relaunch the magazine and had about 500,000 copies of the premiere issue printed. The magazine has been published on a regular, quarterly basis since then.

Several freelancers and former employees of the magazine who did not want to be named told Masthead that they have not been paid for their work. Numerous staff, meanwhile, have left or been fired from their posts in recent months.

The summer 2009 issue of Naked Eye reached newsstands last week. The cover price has been increased, from $4.95 to $6.95.

The 146-page, perfect-bound glossy carries 33 ads, an improvement from the 144-page, fall 2007 premiere, which had 16 ads. The latest issue also features an editorial written by Burton Rice entitled, “Not Guilty By Association.” After quoting Martin Luther King Jr., the magazine’s president and publisher writes:
Where do I stand? I’m standing right here. Standing in a position to bring you the truth. Naked Eye was created to provide Canadians with an insight into the realities of our popular culture.

This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to share my personal views and publish them in Naked Eye. We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and only take the time to reflect once we are deeply affected by certain occurrences or events.

I’ve been called many things over the years but some allegations are too ludicrous to deserve a response. Truth will always find a way to come to light and reveal groundless accusations as the slander that they are.
Rice goes on to talk about the death of Michael Jackson, before adding:
You might be wondering where I am going with all this. I will not follow in the footsteps of others. So, if you try to take a shot at me it better be justified, because if you can’t finish me then you better assume the fetal position. I don’t look for acceptance in this world but defiance; I could choose to conform but would instead rather live according to my own standards. For those who want to criticize the magazine, myself or those involved with it, I have to say: “Try harder…It’s easy to criticize. It’s hard to get off your ass and do something.”
— Lora Grady And Marco Ursi
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