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Utah gaming development studio head sent to jail

updated 12:58 am EDT, Fri October 19, 2012

Owner of Sensory Sweep Studios owed $1.2 million in back pay

The ex-chief and head of defunct game development company Sensory Sweep Studios has been incarcerated for the criminal charge of failure to pay employees. David M. Rushton, head of the firm, owes $1.2 million in a criminal case in Utah for non-payment of wages to what at one point was over 200 employees. Rushton did business in a Salt Lake City suburb, and his company, which focused on selling games adapted from movies, is closed and no longer actively developing titles.

Rushton started his second jail sentence in part to help settle the suit on October 10 at the Salt Lake County Jail. He had previously served time in the jail in 2010 for tax fraud and racketeering in charges related to the game firm. As part of the previous sentence, Rushton remains forbidden to handle money for other people and still faces 72 months of probation.

"We had occasional paychecks that trickled in. Some people were favored more than others," said Adam Hunter, a 29-year-old game designer previously employed by Rushton, owed $12,000 by the company. "Much like with an ex-girlfriend, I've just moved on," Hunter added. "I'm a realist. I understand I'm not going to see any money. I'm not as bitter as I was when this all started going down years ago."

Utah Labor Commission wage-claim manager Brent Asay said that the agency "thought that Mr. Rushton was trying to continue his business on the backs of his employees. It just appeared fishy to us. I just really feel bad for these people, performing work and not getting paid. We saw very few cases where he made payroll." Hunter claimed that he wasn't aware of any employees that weren't friends or family of Rushton getting paid regularly.

Sensory Sweep Studios had a reputation for quick turnaround of licenses with sometimes buggy products. Some of its more successful ventures included Tiger Woods Golf 2005, and the Xbox Live Arcade version of classic Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, which held the record for quickest-selling XBox Live Arcade title for nearly four years.

By Electronista Staff
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