Ninn/Gray Battle Goes Federal

NORCO, Calif. - The ongoing dispute between Michael Ninn, formerly of Ninn Worx_SR and Spearmint Rhino CEO John Gray may have just taken a federal turn.

Sources close to the situation say that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may have begun to investigate Gray, who is also majority owner of Ninn Worx_SR, for the theft of domain names, which Gray has told AVN was not the case. Ninn has alleged that Gray, Spearmint Rhino or some combination of the two stole domain names purchased by Michael and Q Ninn following their split with Ninn Worx_SR.

In late May 2008, according to legal correspondence from Ninn to Spearmint Rhino, Ninn was dismissed from his position at Ninn Worx_SR, though still retaining a 49 percent equity stake in the company. Because the actions taken by Spearmint Rhino were considered by Ninn to be illegal under California law, Ninn claims through his attorney, he should be reinstated and compensated based on a $300,000 annual salary. Further, according to Ninn's claim, Ninn Worx_SR still has equipment and intellectual property that belongs to him personally or by virtue of his ownership stake in Ninn Worx_SR.

Gray, on the other hand, claims that Ninn was not an employee and therefore could not be terminated. Instead of a $300,000 salary, Gray says that Ninn was advanced $200,000 against his 49 percent share of the future earnings of Ninn Worx_SR. Gray has a controlling 51 percent stake in the company, and Spearmint Rhino does not have an ownership stake. According to Gray, Ninn Worx_SR has been operating in the red since inception, and he believes that "taking the reins" from Ninn would actually benefit the minority shareholder, as it would increase the likelihood of profitability and therefore of a dividend distribution.

In the latest installment of a saga that began almost exactly a year ago with the acquisition of Ninn Worx by the newly formed Ninn Worx_SR, the FBI has reportedly responded to a tip that individuals working on behalf of Spearmint Rhino have taken control three domain names:, and Ninn had reportedly planned to use to launch his next endeavor in the adult entertainment industry. had been reserved for a future project, though details were not made available for publication. And contained information pertaining to the termination of Ninn by Gray, including e-mail correspondence between Ninn and Gray. All content previously available on has been taken down.

Q Ninn, who purchased the domain names, has transacted through this Network Solutions account since before the acquisition and considers it to be a personal account. Gray disagrees, stating that the Network Solutions account belongs to N Worx Media, the company that was acquired into Ninn Worx_SR last summer. When Q Ninn saw that Spearmint Rhino had access to the domain names, she contacted the FBI, alleging computer-related malfeasance.

FBI Agent Justin Vallese may have begun an inquiry into this matter but did not return repeated calls for comment. Network Solutions spokesperson Jillian Smith has indicated that the company is looking into the matter, but has been unable to provide any insight so far.

Gray says that he has not been contacted by the FBI in regards to this matter. Last week, he explained, he communicated through his attorney to the Ninns that he would give them and, but that he would retain access to He did not return the latter because the website was being used to communicate private correspondence, highlight a "licensing battle" he fought in Europe and otherwise malign him, he said.

"If I bought," he said, "wouldn't that make you wonder?"