Monday, April 30, 2018

Here is another example of Missouri "law men" bringing charges against a victim of police abuse -- in this case, a man cops shot 10 times at his own doorstep


Daniel Wagner
We've shown that a Missouri sheriff and prosecutor conspired to bring a bogus criminal charge against my wife, Carol, after deputies broke her arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. This is known in the trade as a "cover charge," designed to limit the chances of receiving civil damages for victims of police abuse.

A recent report indicates the use of cover charges is not limited to Carol's case. In fact, it seems to be a prominent part of the toolkit for "law men" in the Missouri Ozarks.

The latest incident involves a Springfield man named Daniel Wagner who answered a knock on his door, only to have two deputies from the Greene County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) shoot him 10 times. Somehow, Wagner managed to survive, but he now faces a felony charge of "unlawful use of a weapon," per RSMo 571.030.

You read that correctly: Wagner was shot 10 times -- the deputies apparently had not a scratch on them -- but Wagner is facing a criminal charge. A judge, magistrate, clerk, or hobo apparently signed off on a probable cause statement in the Wagner case with a straight face.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's arm, after
Missouri cops broke it.

And we are not joking about this. Our creativity is much too limited to concoct a story like this. From a story on the Wagner case, by reporter Harrison Keegan, in last week's Springfield News-Leader:

Defense attorneys say Daniel Wagner saw two blobs standing outside of his front door.

After Wagner and his wife heard rustling outside of their home and then a knock at the front door one night in October, Wagner grabbed his .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun and opened the front door.

Those two figures that Wagner saw turned out to be Greene County Sheriff's Office deputies.

After they say Wagner pointed the gun at them, they fired more than 10 rounds through a glass storm door, shooting Wagner.

Wagner survived and was later charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

How did this bizarre scenario unfold? Reports Keegan:

Court documents say the incident started on the night of Oct. 16 when deputies were dispatched to a home in the 2600 block of Vincent Street, southwest of the Springfield city limits, to investigate a bullet hole found in a home.

Documents say a deputy determined the bullet possibly came from the house next door — Wagner's home.

Two deputies then went to Wagner's home, knocked on the front door and at least one of them called out "sheriff's office," according to court documents.

Eventually, documents say, Wagner got up out of a recliner, went to a hallway and then came to the door with a gun in his hand.

The court documents say Wagner raised the gun and pointed it at one of the deputies, at which point they both shot Wagner in the chest.

Wagner allegedly told investigators he had recently watched a news report about rising burglaries and he believed there might be burglars at the door when he approached with a gun.

Prosecutors claim Wagner displayed his gun in a "threatening manner." If that's the case, why is Wagner the one who wound up with 10 bullet holes in him? And since when is it a crime to display your gun in a threatening manner -- inside your own home -- when you think, as Wagner has stated publicly, you think you are about to be the victim of a burglary or home invasion? Oh, wait . . . an officer feared for his life, so that makes 100 percent of the responsibility shift to Wagner. (Sarcasm alert.)

Photo of Carol Shuler's arm, just before
X-rays showed it was broken.
Shane Cantin and Erica Mynarich are Wagner's defense attorneys. They should be able to make hay with the two questions above if they can find a southwest Missouri jury that isn't filled with cop ass-kissers. From the Springfield newspaper, in a report about last week's preliminary hearing:

Sgt. Steve Martin, one of the deputies who opened fire on Wagner, testified during Wednesday's hearing that he yelled out "sheriff's office" twice and that he feared for his life when Wagner raised the gun.

Cantin did not cast blame on the deputies who fired the shots. He said they were put in a tough position, but he also did not feel like Wagner acted inappropriately.

Cantin said Wagner thought the people on his porch might be intruders and he was within his legal rights when he walked to his front door with a gun in hand.

"Everything he did was completely lawful," Cantin said.

Cantin said he was thankful Wagner survived.

What proof was there that the bullet hole came from Wagner or his home? Probably none. Residents around Wagner have described him as a good neighbor. Did the deputies have lawful grounds to be on Wagner's doorstep? Under a strict interpretation of the law, they probably did. But from a common-sense perspective, should they have been on his property -- at roughly 10:30 p.m., in the dark? My answer is no. First, a bullet hole in a house might not even be evidence of a crime. It could have been the result of an accident, and even if it wasn't, how are the cops supposed to solve it -- when the shot might have been fired months (even years) earlier? If cops felt a dire need to talk with Wagner, why not come back to the scene the next day, in the daylight?

As for Carol's case, it's clear deputies had no grounds to be on our rented property, much less breaking into our home and pointing assault weapons and various handguns at us. We've shown that the eviction was unlawful on at least 10 grounds, making it an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Perhaps most importantly, we had timely filed a notice of appeal, with the required fees, putting an automatic stay on execution, under Missouri law.

Carol has been fighting a bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" charge for 15 months. Judge Margaret Palmietto has refused to dismiss the charges, even though Officer Jeremy Lynn (the "victim") admits in a written statement that he initiated contact with Carol, after bursting into our home, not the other way around.

The charge against Carol is a misdemeanor, and prosecutors have taken jail off the table as possible punishment. Still, Carol is at risk of being found guilty of an offense even the "victim" admits she did not commit.

Meanwhile, Daniel Wagner faces up to four years in prison, if convicted. All because he answered a knock from cops on his door late at night, when they easily could have used common sense and come back the next day when it was light -- and the possible offense likely did not even amount to a crime.

Email from NRA operative shows Jeff Sessions was firmly in the loop on early efforts to build links between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign


Jeff Sessions
Jeff Sessions, former U.S. Senator (R-AL) and current Trump attorney general, was directly in the loop on plans to form a "back channel" between Russia's Vladimir Putin and the Donald Trump campaign, according to a new report at Rolling Stone (RS)

Building on a Democratic response to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee report on the Trump/Russia alliance, RS focuses on Putin ally Alexander Torshin and his efforts to reach the Trump campaign via the National Rifle Association (NRA). In the process, RS shines significant new light on an email between NRA and Republican operative Paul Erickson and longtime Sessions aide Rick Dearborn.

What is at the heart of the email? It shows Sessions knew about early efforts to build a link between Russia and the Trump campaign -- and it adds to evidence that Sessions lied to Congress on multiple occasions. It also suggests Sessions might wind up in federal prison -- and the NRA could wind up on the scrap heap of history -- before the smoke has cleared on Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump/Russia scandal.

The response from the Democratic minority indicates Republicans on the committee made no serious effort to get at the facts connecting Russia and the Trump campaign. In fact, the majority report might charitably be called a whitewash.

RS reporter Tim Dickinson sets the stage by focusing on Alexander Torshin and his ties to Putin and the NRA:

The Democratic report affirms and amplifies the findings of Rolling Stone's investigation into the NRA's Russia connections. In particular, the Democrats strongly suggest that Putin ally Alexander Torshin was running an op through the NRA: "The Kremlin-linked individual" – Torshin – "appears to have used the group" – the NRA – "to befriend and establish a backchannel to senior Trump campaign associates through their mutual affinity for firearms," the Democrats write, "a strategy consistent with Russian trade craft." (Torshin, a lifetime NRA member, was recently sanctioned by the Treasury Department and can no longer travel to the United States.)

That leads to the email, written about six months before the 2016 election, that ties Sessions to the whole sordid scheme. Reports Dickinson:

The Democratic report also publishes a full excerpt of an infamous May 2016 email from Paul Erickson to the Trump campaign. (Previously, this email had only been reported in snippets by The New York Times.) Erickson is an NRA- and GOP operative who repeatedly visited a Torshin-backed gun-rights group in Moscow. He later started a mysterious business with Torshin's protege, Maria Butina, in South Dakota.

The excerpt is illuminating: Erickson addressed the email – which included a proposed meeting between candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin – to Rick Dearborn, then a top Trump campaign staffer. But the full text suggests Sen. Jeff Sessions was directly in the loop. Erickson wrote:

"I'm now writing to you and Sen. Sessions in your roles as Trump foreign policy experts/advisors. […] Happenstance and the (sometimes) international reach of the NRA placed me in a position a couple of years ago to slowly begin cultivating a back-channel to President Putin's Kremlin. Russia is quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S. that isn't forthcoming under the current administration. And for reasons that we can discuss in person or on the phone, the Kremlin believes that the only possibility of a true re-set in this relationship would be with a new Republican White House."

Let that last line of the email sink in for a moment. The Russians believe it will be favorable to them if a certain Republican is in the White House, and they want to make sure Jeff Sessions knows about it. Did the email actually make its way to Sessions -- and to others near the top of the Trump food chain? The RS report leaves little doubt:

Did Sessions, now the attorney general, receive a copy of this email directly? The report's footnote, sourcing the email, reveals the document came from "Attorney General Jeff Session [sic] Document Production." Rolling Stone asked for clarification from a spokesperson for Ranking Member Adam Schiff; he replied: "We cannot comment."

That this email was found in Sessions' files is a startling revelation. Sessions previously told House investigators that he did not recall the outreach by Erickson, according to The New York Times. And it may provide new context for why Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department's Russia investigation.

The Democratic report also reveals that Dearborn moved Erickson's message up the chain of command – and amplified when and where Putin hoped to meet with candidate Trump. "Dearborn communicated this request on May 17, 2016 to the highest levels of the Trump campaign, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Jared Kushner," the Democrats write.

Russia's outreach efforts did result in a meeting with a Trump representative, and there is little doubt Jeff Sessions knew about it. There also is little doubt that Republicans on the intelligence committee tried to cover it up. Writes Dickinson:

Torshin hoped to use the 2016 NRA convention to break the ice, and open a personal line of communication to "someone of high rank in the Trump Campaign," the report continues. "As explained in Dearborn's email, such a meeting would provide Torshin an opportunity “to discuss an offer he claims to be carrying from President Putin to meet with DJT." ("DJT" is a reference to Donald J. Trump.) "They would also like DJT to visit Russia for a world summit on the persecution of Christians at which Putin and Trump would meet.'"

Ultimately, Torshin met the future-President's son, Donald Jr., at the NRA convention. The Democrats upbraid the majority for "conveniently" concluding there was "no evidence that the two discussed the presidential election." The Democrats expand: "this relies solely on the voluntary and self-interested testimony of the individual in question . . . Trump Jr." The report adds: "The Majority refused multiple requests by the Minority to interview witnesses central to this line of inquiry, including Torshin, Butina, Erickson, and others."

How ugly could this get for the NRA -- with Jeff Sessions right in the middle of it? From RS:

The Democrats conclude the NRA section of their report with a litany of questions the GOP majority refused to examine, writing that the GOP majority report "ignores significant outstanding questions about individuals who sought to set up this back channel, including why Torshin and Butina were interested in connecting the Trump campaign to Putin, what they sought to get out of that connection, why they enlisted the support of NRA colleagues, and whether others in the campaign were communicating with Russia through the NRA."

The Democrats also underscore that Republicans took no interest in getting to the bottom of allegations that Russian money illegally boosted Trump's candidacy. "The Majority refused to investigate," Democrats write, "whether Russian-linked intermediaries used the NRA to illegally funnel money to the Trump Campaign, to open lines of communication with or approaches to Trump or his associates, and how those approaches may have informed Russia's active measures campaign as it unfolded throughout 2016."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hidden investors helped fund foreclosure fraud in Georgia scam tied to Sean Hannity, and the same scenario might have unfolded in our Alabama case


Sean Hannity, of Fox News
Unidentified investors in Georgia funded foreclosure fraud involving a real-estate broker connected to Fox News' Sean Hannity. Evidence suggests a similar scenario might have been at the heart of our wrongful foreclosure in Alabama.

That means well-heeled and hidden investors need to be identified -- in both the Jeff Brock case in Georgia (involving a Hannity shell company) and the Shuler foreclosure in Shelby County, Alabama (involving at least two house-flipping companies).

In our case, we plan to seek investors' identities via a federal lawsuit and a criminal complaint. We do not intend to sit back and let rich people get away with financing the theft of our house, via a wrongful, and possibly fraudulent, foreclosure.

While Brock pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy in the Georgia case and spent six months in federal prison, he did not conduct the scam alone; he had help on the front end from two conspirators who also pleaded guilty, and he had financing from investors who never have been held accountable for their role in stealing funds that, in a number of cases, should have gone to homeowners. From a report at the Daily Beast:

According to the government sentencing memorandum from when Brock was sent to federal prison for a scheme involving numerous rigged auctions, the payoff for the Lakewood Drive house was $3,770. The memorandum notes that the actual payoff money in all Brock’s crooked auctions came not from Brock himself but from investors who bankrolled his acquisition of foreclosed houses. He or, in his absence, his representative provided the investor invoices for what were described as “finder’s fees.”

“Brock did not use his own money to pay Doughty and Sullivan for not bidding competitively at the December 6, 2011 auctions; rather, he used money that outside investors had given him to acquire foreclosed properties,” the memorandum says, “To keep his investors informed, Brock instructed an employee to send them invoices documenting the payments that he made.”

The employee dutifully prepared an invoice documenting a $3,770 payoff for the Lakewood house. The sum seems altogether reasonable considering that county records show Brock paid only $21,130 for a house that had been purchased back in 1999 for $95,000 and subsequently carried a mortgage of $155,000.

The obvious question: Who are these investors who funded criminal activity? Right now, we don't know. From the Daily Beast:

The memorandum does not identify the investor who provided the payoff funds. Property records show that title to the house did pass from Brock to a Cobb County entity called The First Real Estate Corporation, though no purchase price is recorded and the property passed that very same day to one of Sean Hannity’s myriad shell companies, SPMKX GA LL.

Even so, however innocent he may be of actual wrongdoing, Hannity remains the beneficiary of a crooked scheme. Records show Hannity paid $54,000 for a house worth double that amount.

Whoever paid the payoff, the outcome of this deal is so messy you might think that Michael Cohen was involved. There is no indication that he had anything to do with it.

In our Alabama case, it's not clear that criminal activity was involved. But there is little doubt hidden investors were involved. By its very name, the entity that bought our home at auction (Spartan Value Investors) involves investors, and their identify is cloaked in secrecy. Roughly two weeks after buying the property, Spartan Value Investors "flipped" it to another outfit, called JAG Investment Strategies. Again, the name suggests unknown investors are involved.

Clayton Mobley, Spartan Value Investors
How do the numbers stack up in our case? Spartan bought our property for $74,359 and sold it to JAG for $98,500. That's a profit of more than $24,100 in roughly two weeks time. And our house had a market value of around $200,000. That's likely where investors made a nice chunk of change. And we made nothing, even though our house was a rare one that sold for more than the amount left on the mortgage.

There probably is not much worse in life than going through a foreclosure or an eviction -- and we have been through both. And when it appears the processes involved fraud or deceit . .  well, it's enraging.

Here is how the Daily Beast put it, in reporting on the Brock case in Georgia:

Along with describing how the investors provided the payoffs to secure a purchase price far below the actual value, the sentencing memorandum notes, “For the homeowner victims, these thefts occurred at a low point in their lives.”

The memorandum continues, “The money that Brock and his conspirators kept for themselves could have helped the victims get back on their feet, but Brock instead enriched himself.”

Prominent progressive blasts Alabama AG candidate Joseph Siegelman for posing with Bill Baxley, who has become largely a lap dog for crooked Republicans


Joseph Siegelman and Bill Baxley
A prominent whistle blower and opposition researcher yesterday blasted Alabama attorney general candidate Joseph Siegelman for posing with former AG and gubernatorial candidate Bill Baxley. The photo appeared at the Joseph Siegelman for Attorney General Facebook page, and Dana Jill Simpson responded by essentially saying it showed extremely poor taste and judgment on Siegelman's part.

In the process, Simpson stood up for Legal Schnauzer and me, noting our role in reporting -- in more depth, quality, and quantity than any other news site -- on the political prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman, Joseph's father. We've paid a steep price for that reporting, in the form of a bogus lawsuit and other corrupt legal actions from Bill Baxley, acting on behalf of the noxious "Alabama Gang" of crooked Republicans -- including Rob Riley, Mike Hubbard, Jeff Sessions, Bill Canary, Luther Strange, and Jessica Medeiros Garrison.

Specifically, Baxley almost certainly played a major role in my 2013 kidnapping (no warrant ever has surfaced) and five-month incarceration, which was ordered by retired judge Claud Neilson -- a long-time Baxley crony, who was specially appointed by the hideously corrupt Alabama Supreme Court. The five months I spent in jail made it impossible for my wife, Carol, and me to resolve issues with our home mortgage -- leading to a foreclosure that had Baxley's fingerprints all over it. Finally, Baxley filed a baseless defamation lawsuit against me on behalf of Jessica Garrison -- former campaign manager and mistress to Luther Strange. That case resulted in a $3.5-million default judgment -- issued by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Don Blankenship, even though the case involved no discovery, no trial, no jury, no cross-examination, nothing associated with a normal defamation case. What kind of favors or "patronage" had to be dolled out to get that worthless judgment from Blankenship?

On top of that, the Garrison judgment is void on multiple grounds (improper jurisdiction and lack of notice re: default application and hearing), and can be attacked as such at any time, Baxley surely knows this -- as does Garrison, who happens to have a law degree -- but neither has said a peep about it in a public forum.

That helps explain, in part, why Jill Simpson was appalled that Joseph Siegelman, a Democrat, would allow himself to be photographed with Baxley, a Democrat who has become a lap dog for the right wing in his senior years. This is from a post last night at Simpson's Facebook page (with some editing for clarity):

First let me say, folks, I am not sure why Joseph Siegelman got his picture with Bill Baxley? However, one thing is for sure: I heard from a bunch of progressives all over the state about it today, as they just thought it was wrong and were asking me: "Is the Siegelman kid ignorant as to what happened to Roger Shuler, his father's biggest press defender, because of Baxley?

They are like: "There he is, Jill, standing with the Alabama Gang guy, Bill Baxley, that got the $3.5-million judgement against Roger Shuler, while he was in jail, on bullshit deal about Jessica Garrison and Luther Strange and Liberty Duke and Rob Riley. 
After all, everyone knows Bill Baxley covered for Luther with his Jessica deal, suing Roger for her, while he was in jail unable to defend himself. Former State Senator Lowell Barron months ago appeared on Marcus Echols' progressive radio show in Huntsville and told what he knew and why Luther dropped the charges on him like a hot potato out of fear of having to testify under oath about Luther's relationship with Jessica Garrison.

Curiously, we've seen no reports of Garrison suing Lowell Barron, no claims that he defamed her for stating unequivocally she had an affair with Strange, and it badly compromised Strange in his role as attorney general. So, Garrison claimed my reporting was false and defamatory, but Lowell Barron's broadcast statements -- pulled pretty much from my posts and Barron's own knowledge -- are fine

Garrison has not sued Barron, of course, because his statements are true -- as were my posts. Bill Baxley has every reason to know that, but he filed a groundless lawsuit against me anyway. So why, on earth would Joseph Siegelman -- running for the state's top law-enforcement office -- align himself with an integrity-challenged figure like Bill Baxley? Here is more from Jill Simpson:

So that brings me back to being clueless why Joseph would stand beside the guy that terrorized the Shuler family. Roger Shuler, without a doubt, is the most fearless reporter who told the whole story on how Don Siegelman was politically prosecuted. How that young man, Joseph Siegelman, could stand with Billy Baxley is beyond my comprehension.

I might add this: Please direct your questions to Don and Joseph, as I have no answer to this matter -- and well, frankly, have no intention of defending him of such behavior. I also might add that I was pretty harshly attacked as well for helping get friends from D.C. and Montgomery to help get Shuler. The very same bunch attacked me, and lost everything, so seeing this picture was kind of disgusting.

I am forever grateful to Andy Kreig, flying down to help Carol Shuler get Roger out -- and helping me when this bunch left me with nothing. But the Siegelmans did not come to my rescue. At the time all of Roger's stuff was happening, I heard from religious right Republicans that they were fearful Roger might get hurt if left in jail. I am grateful for their advice on getting him out, as they knew what Luther and Jessica and Rob and Liberty were capable of, as well.

That said, I am disappointed Joseph got his picture taken with Bill Baxley as I know how awful Bill Baxley treated the Shuler family -- by representing a corrupt bunch of Republicans against Roger, who lost everything defending Joseph's dad, as did I.

So you all know, I am not planning on voting in the primary; I will be voting in the fall. I have little interest in this slate of candidates. I don't really see any true progressives willing to kick the corrupt Alabama Gang out of our state. All we at this point have is folks snuggling with the Alabama Gang.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sean Hannity's shell company is tied to real-estate broker who committed foreclosure fraud involving the kind of "house flipping" we experienced in Alabama


Sean Hannity
Fox News' Sean Hannity is connected to a real-estate broker who pleaded guilty in 2016 to federal charges of fraud and conspiracy related to foreclosed properties in Georgia.

That adds another area of common ground, which we began outlining in yesterday's post, between the Hannity story and our experience with a dubious foreclosure in Birmingham, Alabama. It also adds to the possibility that criminal acts were involved in the loss of our home, which we owned for roughly 25 years. We have obtained information about reporting possible foreclosure fraud to federal authorities, and my wife, Carol, and I plan to use it, pronto. We encourage other possible victims to do the same; contact information for appropriate federal agencies is at the end of this post.

Does all this mean our foreclosure was connected to the 20-plus shell companies that Hannity helped form via a wealth-management firm in Kennesaw, Georgia, just outside Atlanta? No. In fact, given that the value of mortgages in the United States tops $10 trillion, the odds that any one mortgage in the seven states where Hannity's shell companies operate (Alabama is one of them) is quite low. That includes our mortgage.

Even if our foreclosure proves to have no ties to Hannity -- and we don't know, one way or another, right now -- revelations about the broadcaster's real-estate empire shine light on the kind of shady actions that clearly were present in the loss of our home -- and might be widespread in the mortgage industry. That's especially true with yesterday's follow-up story by reporter Jon Swaine, of The Guardian, titled "Sean Hannity's real estate venture linked to fraudulent property dealer," focusing on a Georgia-based con artist named Jeff Brock. Writes Swaine:

Sean Hannity’s real estate venture bought houses through a property dealer who was involved in a criminal conspiracy to fraudulently obtain foreclosed homes, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

In 2012, a shell company linked to the Fox News host bought 11 homes in Georgia that had been purchased by the dealer, Jeff Brock, following foreclosures. Brock transferred the properties to corporate vehicles that sold them on to the Hannity-linked company at a profit.

Brock pleaded guilty in 2016 to federal charges of bank fraud and conspiracy for his role in an operation to rig foreclosure auctions between 2007 and 2012. He was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay more than $166,000 in fines and restitution.

What did Brock do? He and his conspirators rigged foreclosure auctions to enrich themselves and make sure other parties, who were legally entitled to a share of the funds (and this includes the homeowners, in many cases), got little or nothing. Here is how the U.S. Department of Justice described the scheme in a 2016 press release announcing guilty pleas:

Jeffrey Wayne Brock, David Wallace “Chuck” Doughty, and Stanley Ralph Sullivan each admitted that they agreed to rig auctions of foreclosed homes in Cobb County from June 2007 until January 2012. According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Brock, Doughty, Sullivan and their co-conspirators agreed not to compete for the purchase of selected foreclosed homes so that they could win the auctions for those homes with artificially low bids. The winning bidders then made payoffs to conspirators who had refrained from bidding against them. As a result, conspirators profited from money that otherwise would have gone to mortgage holders and other secured debt holders, and in some cases, to the owners of foreclosed homes.

“These defendants conspired to corrupt foreclosure auctions that should have benefited lenders and homeowners,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division will continue to work with our colleagues at the FBI to pursue those who took advantage of disruption caused by the financial crisis to line their own pockets.”

Here's how Jon Swaine describes it at The Guardian:

In February 2012, the Hannity-linked company spent about $540,000 buying 10 single-family houses in Georgia’s Fulton, Cobb, Clayton and DeKalb counties, according to county records. It bought an additional DeKalb county property later that year for about $60,000.

The company was formed in Georgia days before the February purchases by an attorney for Hannity. It was registered to the offices of Henssler Financial, Hannity’s wealth managers. As a limited liability company (LLC), it was not required to report its actual owner to Georgia regulators. Hannity is not mentioned in the company’s publicly available filings.

Brock had bought the 11 Georgia houses in foreclosure auctions in 2011 and 2012, after the previous owners defaulted on mortgages. He transferred the properties to five LLCs. Brock was the registered agent for two of the five LLCs and a colleague at Key Property was the agent for another. Then the Hannity-linked company bought the houses from these five LLCs, paying a total of $600,000.

Notice the flipping of the foreclosed properties from one shady entity to another. That's how the conspirators in the Brock case, via a Hannity shell company, rewarded each other with funds that should have gone to someone else.

Clayton Mobley, of Spartan Value Investors
A similar scenario played out in our Alabama foreclosure. Our research indicates the vast majority of foreclosed properties are bought by banks, so they can seek the amount owed on the mortgage. That did not happen in our case. A Birmingham outfit called Spartan Value Investors -- founded and headed by Clayton Mobley -- bought our home at auction and quickly flipped it to another local outfit, called JAG Investment Strategies. A couple named Preston and Angela Crider wound up in our house, even though there is almost no way they could own it lawfully.

Why did these two entities go into flipping overdrive on our house? I don't know, but it smells funny. It also smells somewhat like the scheme Jeff Brock and his conspirators concocted, via Sean Hannity's shell company. Here is how we described the peculiar actions around our foreclosure in a September 2016 post:

In a standard foreclosure, the mortgage holder -- a financial institution of some sort -- buys the house, and the purchase price equals the outstanding debt on the house. In our research, we've found a number of articles on the Web quoting a mortgage veteran saying something like this: "I've been in the business for 35 years, and I've never seen a foreclosed property sell for more than the outstanding debt, and I've only seen a handful sold to someone other than the bank." (The price can be for less than the outstanding debt, which creates an unpleasant set of problems for the homeowner, but that didn't apply to us, so we will leave those issues off the table.)

Back to the thoughts of our imaginary mortgage professional, who would have had quite the experience at our foreclosure. The buyer was not the bank, Chase Mortgage; it was a house-flipping outfit, with roots in Tuscaloosa and an office on Birmingham's Southside, called Spartan Value Investors. (Roughly two weeks after we were out of the house, Spartan sold it to another house-flipping outfit, JAG Investment Strategies. JAG obtained a loan from Nowlin and Associates of Birmingham and apparently used that to remodel the house and get it on the market pronto, where a couple named Preston and Angela Crider bought it.)

The foreclosure on our home wound up being unlike anything our imaginary mortgage veteran had ever seen. Here's why:

Here's how things took a left turn with our foreclosure: In the days leading to the sale on the Shelby County Courthouse steps, we contacted Robert Wermuth, of the Huntsville law firm Stephens Millirons, which was ramrodding the proceedings. We wanted to know the outstanding debt on the property, and Wermuth sent us a document stating it was roughly $66,000. That includes a bunch of "fees" that mortgage holders and their lawyers love to tack onto such documents, so the real balance probably was somewhere in the $55,000 to $60,000 range. Regardless, we were having to deal with the higher figure. If we had been able to come up with $66,000, we would still be in our house.

We're not sure what happened on the day of the sale, but the property wound up selling for $74,359, which is more than $8,000 over the outstanding debt. . . .  Our house was in a fairly desirable area, and it was in pretty good shape considering the financial duress we had been under for years, due to loss of our jobs at UAB and Infinity Insurance, respectively. Did two or more parties get into a bidding war, driving up the price? Did some other unusual circumstance cause a sale unlike any our imaginary mortgage pro above had ever seen?

Remember the two circumstances our imaginary mortgage veteran had almost never seen? (1) A foreclosed property selling for more than the outstanding debt; (2) A foreclosed property being sold to someone other than the bank. Both of those events happened with our foreclosure.

Strange? Sure seems like it to me.

Did someone connected to the "flipping" of our home commit foreclosure fraud? We aren't sure, but we will contact the appropriate federal authorities about our experience -- and we intend to do it soon. We urge others who might have been victims of foreclosure fraudsters to do the same. Here is the contact info, as outlined in a DOJ press release about the Jeff Brock case:

Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information about the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Washington Criminal II Section of the Antitrust Division at 202-598-4000, call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Reports about shell companies and Sean Hannity's real-estate holdings raise questions about foreclosures in Alabama, Georgia, and other Southern states


Sean Hannity
Revelations that Fox News' Sean Hannity is linked to more than 20 shell companies that bought roughly $90 million of real estate in mostly Southern states should raise eyebrows with anyone who has experienced a foreclosure over the past few years in Alabama -- and that includes your humble blogger.

The whole smelly Hannity story has a distinctly Southern stench to it. The shell companies were formed in Georgia, via a wealth-management firm in the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw. The properties are in seven states -- including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas -- along with New York and Vermont. After a brief stint in college radio, Hannity started his professional broadcast career at radio stations in Athens, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Why does the Hannity story raise an eyebrow with yours truly? My wife, Carol, and I went through a dubious foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham. Our home went into default in 2013, and we were in a forbearance program with our mortgage company (Chase) to get back on track when I was arrested in October 2013 shortly after breaking a series of posts about U.S. Circuit Judge Bill Pryor and his history of posing nude for photographs that appeared at the gay-pornography Web site badpuppy.com in 1997.

The five months I was wrongfully incarcerated cost us any chance of saving our home, and it was sold at foreclosure in summer 2014, forcing us to move to my home state of Missouri. Reporting on the Hannity story states that many of his properties were bought at foreclosure, but we've seen no mention that foreclosures can be conducted unlawfully. Ours definitely was a wrongful foreclosure, and we have filed a federal lawsuit (we call it "The House Case") over the matter. As often is the case in legal matters where we are involved, courts have made numerous rulings that are contrary to simple, black-letter law.

Corrupt rulings in "The House Case" started in the Northern District of Alabama under Judge R. David Proctor and have grown more blatant at the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Bill Pryor and is based -- surprise, surprise -- in Atlanta, not far from the epicenter of Sean Hannity's real-estate empire. (More reporting on the Eleventh Circuit and our "House Case," plus possible ties between our foreclosure and the Hannity story, in upcoming posts.)

Hannity's real-estate holdings revolve around Henssler Financial, which includes Bill Lako, a principal who has appeared on Hannity's radio show as a finance expert.. From The Guardian and reporter Jon Swaine, who broke the Hannity story yesterday:

The shell companies used to buy the properties are registered to the offices of Henssler Financial, a wealth management firm outside Atlanta. Bill Lako, a principal at the firm, has appeared on Hannity’s radio show as an expert on money issues.

Lako recently wrote an article for the show’s website berating Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating ties between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia, without noting his ties to Hannity. He did not respond to an email. . . .

The list of properties bought by the Hannity-linked companies includes multimillion-dollar homes used by Hannity. It also features single-family units priced as low as $50,000 in relatively poor suburbs. In at least two cases, batches of homes were bought simultaneously at a discount, after they were repossessed by banks from their previous owners in foreclosure proceedings.

The entire portfolio connected to Hannity comprises at least 877 residential units, which were bought for a total of just under $89m. Another seven properties bought by the companies over recent years have subsequently been sold for more than $4m, according to public records.

How do shell companies enter the picture? An article at Fortune explains:

According to documents reviewed by The Guardian, Hannity bought real estate through more than 20 shell companies registered in Georgia. A shell company is a vehicle used to hold assets and can help beneficiaries remain anonymous. They are not in themselves illegal, though they are sometimes used to conduct illegal activities such as tax evasion. There is no indication that Hannity is engaged in any illegal practices, but he is the hidden owner behind at least some of the 20 companies through which he has bought property. In his case, it appears the shell companies were used to limit his liabilities in the real estate deals in question.

As is typical for a conservative, Hannity took advantage of others' struggles. He helped build a fortune on the collapsing U.S. economy that the failed GOP administration of George W. Bush ushered in -- a presidency that Hannity enthusiastically supported. From Fortune:

Despite his criticism of President Obama over the U.S. foreclosure rate, Hannity was an apparent beneficiary of the high number of foreclosures that accompanied and followed the great recession. In 2013 he purchased homes at a discount after their previous owners lost them to foreclosure. The Guardian reports he bought dozens of homes this way.

No wonder Hannity loved the Bush years. He made millions off the administration's failed policies, and then tried to blame it on President Obama, who pulled the country out of a potential economic disaster.

If you experienced an Alabama foreclosure in recent years, especially since 2013, we urge you to follow the Hannity story closely. With FBI agents recently seizing records from the office of Michael Cohen, attorney for both Donald Trump and Sean Hannity, more information about Hannity's real-estate holdings is likely to surface. And it might not be pretty.

As for our own foreclosure, we don't know if it has any ties to Hannity's wheeling and dealing. But it fits the profile of the properties that have been reported about so far -- especially when evidence suggests that our foreclosure was driven by those who saw me, and my journalism, as a threat to their political well-being. It was, without a doubt, a political hit -- and Sean Hannity is a political opportunist posing as a talk-show host on Fox News.

Here is the key questions for us, and we encourage targets of Alabama foreclosures over the past five years or so to keep it in mind: Were the foreclosures involving Sean Hannity's shell companies lawfully conducted? Did firms with ties to Hannity engage in wrongful foreclosure to essentially steal properties at bargain-basement rates from the rightful owners? Did the firms target individuals (such as Carol and me) who were seen as political opponents of Hannity and his right-wing friends?


(To be continued)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Right-wing fruit loops Diamond and Silk head to Capitol Hill to whine about the same "social-media filtering" Facebook uses against my progressive blog


Diamond and Silk, with their hero.
Two black women from North Carolina, who frequently express their undying devotion to Donald Trump online, have become a cause celebre among conservatives by claiming Facebook discriminates against their right-wing views. Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson -- professionally known as Diamond and Silk -- even are scheduled to testify Thursday before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the subject of "social-media filtering."

Diamond and Silk are mostly a poor attempt at low-brow humor and attention-grabbing, so it's hard to figure what the judiciary committee hopes to accomplish with their testimony. But Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), a former auctioneer from my current district in Missouri, is pushing their act -- and Long never has been confused with a statesman or a policy wonk. If Billy Long is involved, you can bet the whole thing is a charade. Our guess is that Diamond and Silk's issues have everything to do with trolls and nothing to do with discrimination.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently testified before Congress in what was supposed to be a serious inquiry into the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and related issues. Billy Long helped turn it into a clown show by asking Zuckerberg about Diamond and Silk. Zuckerberg, apparently realizing that Long is what passes for "leadership" in the postmodern Republican Party, gave a serious answer, as reported at NPR:

Just days before Zuckerberg was slated to testify before key House and Senate congressional committees last week, Diamond and Silk alerted their followers on Facebook that their content was being suppressed by Zuckerberg's massive social media platform. . . .

The conservative website Drudge Report splashed it as a top story. Conservative Twitter accounts lit up with concern.

" 'BOOM' Diamond And Silk make the Drudge Report........ Don't start none, won't be none!" the partnership wrote on their Facebook page.

And then came the hearings where Zuckerberg faced Congress. . . .

"What is unsafe about two black women supporting President Donald J. Trump?" asked Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo. . . .

The CEO told lawmakers that any efforts to limit the duo's reach was an "enforcement error" on the part of the Facebook team but did not detail what Facebook had done — or why.

Diamond and Silk's main point seems to be that Facebook makes stupid decisions that result in censoring and blocking only those with right-wing views. That's a crock of barnyard excrement; I know from firsthand experience that Facebook makes the same dumb decisions against users on the left as it does against users on the right . In fact, Facebook takes progressive bloggers who write about serious subjects -- such as police brutality -- and blocks their links by deeming them "spam" and "unsafe."

I know because it's happened to me twice in the past month. The gist of Diamond and Silk's complaint, which they are taking to Capitol Hill, is that Facebook "limits the reach" of their right-wing views.. But the same "unsafe" label has been applied to my blog, Legal Schnauzer -- twice in the past month. In fact, as I write this, I'm still in "Facebook Jail" -- with my blog link blocked so that it can't be shared via links on Facebook.

Is my reach being limited? It sure as heck is -- and I'm about as far from a conservative as you can get; I wouldn't say a positive word about Donald Trump if someone tried to force me at gunpoint. Also, I'm not just a second-rate "comedy" act. I'm a journalist, with a B.J. degree from the University of Missouri and more than 35 years of professional experience -- with a daily newspaper, magazines, institutional publications, broadcasts, you name it.

Legal Schnauzer has been ranked among the top 50 law blogs in North America by Cision, a Chicago-based Web marketing and research firm. My blog, at No. 37, was the only one on the list that is truly independent -- not affiliated with any law firm, law school, legal organization, media outlet, or social-justice organization. In short, Legal Schnauzer has been ranked by a company, which deals with such issues on a daily basis, as the best blog of its kind in the United States and Canada.

Facebook's treatment of our progressive blog has been so outlandish that we recently asked (only slightly in a joking manager) if the company supports police brutality. After that post, we were out of Facebook Jail for roughly one working day, and then went right back in. We are considering a lawsuit against Facebook and the individuals attacking the blog if the problem is not corrected, pronto.

Why the question about police brutality? In September 2015, I watched deputies brutalize my wife, Carol, and break her arm during an eviction in Springfield, Missouri, which was unlawful on at least 12 grounds. I've published X-rays that show the comminuted fracture (broken in more than two places), plus photos taken about an hour after the incident that show the beginnings of severe bruising that eventually would cover Carol's left arm (plus the right arm, which was not broken but was black and purple for its full length, thanks to police-imposed violence.)

Carol Shuler's broken arm, a photo that Facebook
deemed "unsafe".
Roughly eight hours of trauma surgery was required to repair Carol's arm, and she is expected to regain, at most, 75- to 80- percent usage. It will never be the same. During the whole process, Carol faced a number of complications -- shock, blood loss, nerve damage, elevated pressures -- that could have been life threatening.

Unbelievably, Greene County prosecuting attorney Dan Patterson brought bogus "assault of a law enforcement officer" charges against Carol, an obvious "cover charge" designed to impede her pursuit of civil damages.

Issues don't come much more serious than the ones surrounding Carol's broken arm. But when I have reported on the subject, including photos of the arm just before X-rays revealed the break, Facebook has deemed my blog "unsafe" -- and my blog URL remains blocked. Diamond and Silk, with their goofy comedy routine about the most dangerous and incompetent president in our history, think they have problems with Facebook? Let's consider a timeline regarding the Legal Schnauzer case:

* 3/26/18 -- I write a post about Carol's cop-induced injuries, including photos of her broken arm;

* 4/6/18 -- After 10 days in Facebook Jail (our blog URL is blocked), we are deemed "safe" for the free world again.

* 4/9/18 -- After roughly one working day out of jail, we wind up back in jail after another post (featuring photos) about Carol's cop-induced injuries.

* 4/23/18 -- As I write this, our second stint in Facebook Jail has lasted 14 days. Combined with the earlier 10-day "jail sentence," we've had our reach limited for 24 days in less than a month.

What is happening in our case? The answer seems clear: Conservative, pro-cop trolls (many of whom probably are cops, perhaps using taxpayer-funded resources) have reported my posts to Facebook as "spam" in an effort to interfere with our reporting. The company apparently takes the word of trolls, people who intentionally abuse Facebook rules, and blocks targets without any investigation. Does that make sense? Not one lick, but that almost certainly explains our situation, and it probably explains the Diamond and Silk issue, too.

Are liberal trolls reporting Diamond and Silk as spam? I haven't seen that issue raised in news reports from across the country, but my guess is that the answer is yes.

If liberals are acting as trolls, it's wrong, and I don't support it -- even though I think Diamond and Silk's speech has about the same intellectual worth of a dried cow turd. Facebook should go about identifying the trolls and punishing THEM, instead of imposing restrictions on Diamond and Silk. Facebook should take the same action in my case.

Thousands of taxpayer dollars will be spent so that Diamond and Silk can go to Congress and whine about Facebook's discrimination against their right-wing views. In truth, the whole contretemps almost certainly has nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with Facebook's silly policies -- and it's inability to deal with trolls, of all political colors.

Below is a video of Diamond and Silk, attacking broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly after she had the audacity to ask Donald Trump during a presidential debate about vile, rude, and sexist comments he had made about women over the years. As you can tell, Diamond and Silk have no respect for their own race or their gender.

That kind of Uncle Tomism must be a big hit among white, postmodern conservatives.




Thursday, April 19, 2018

Newly obtained photograph shows Carol could not have broken her own arm -- and deputies started shaping their bogus story the morning after her injury


The back seat of a patrol car, where Carol was placed after Missouri
deputies had beaten her and broken her arm. (Notice part of the
seat-belt system at left.)

Sheriff's deputies, first thing the next morning, started concocting a false story to cover up the police brutality that caused my wife's broken arm, a newly obtained photograph shows.

The photograph is part of  limited discovery prosecutors have produced in the bogus "assault on a law enforcement officer" case Carol has been fighting for 14 months. Prosecutors mostly have stonewalled on Carol's discovery requests, producing responses like "we're not aware of that existing" or "we haven't been able to find that."

Despite the stonewalling, we've received evidence that reveals a lot about the brutality and dishonesty that seem to be part of the modern cop's DNA. We reported recently on photos -- taken at a hospital emergency room roughly an hour after Carol's arm was broken and she was hauled to jail -- that show the early signs of how badly Carol was injured. Two photos show the beginning of severe bruising, along with a baseball-size lump that likely was caused by the pooling of blood and a broken bone that was pushing against skin. 

The photos apparently are so unsettling to cop trolls that they've filed false reports to Facebook that my posts are "spam" or "unsafe," causing my blog URL to be blocked. This has happened twice in the past month -- both times on posts that include photos of Carol's broken arm -- and it takes 10 days or so to get the matter resolved. If the problem continues, I'm considering a lawsuit against Facebook and the trolls responsible for these abusive tactics.

Back to the photos of Carol's injuries, taken while she was in custody. What was Carol, the obvious victim of a police assault, doing in jail? She was there because Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott was on the scene and stood about five feet away as three of his officers surrounded Carol and one slammed her viciously to the ground and yanked on her limbs. Perhaps sensing this was police brutality that might have produced a serious injury, Arnott started the cover-up by pointing at Carol and saying, "She assaulted a law-enforcement officer." I saw all of this happen from the front seat of our car in the driveway of our duplex apartment, about 15-20 feet away.

How gross is the corruption that Arnott set in motion? The photograph at the top helps tell the story. It was taken of the backseat of a squad car where Carol was placed for transport to jail, after her arm had been broken and Arnott had fingered her for a bogus criminal charge.

It is a simple picture, not artsy in the least. But it reveals a couple of key points that point to the beginnings of police corruption -- a cover-up, if you will:

(1) On the left side of the photo, you see part of the vehicle's seat-belt system. It shows a strap running downward from the top of the seat, with a buckle at the bottom of the strap. Another part of the seat-belt system likely is out of view -- on the other side of where a suspect would sit -- with both parts used to secure the suspect in the back seat. Bottom line? Carol was placed in a vehicle equipped with what appears to be a modern and high-end seat-belt system.

(2) The photograph is time stamped at 8:34 a.m. on 9/10/15.

Let's start with No. 2 and see what that tells us. As we recently reported, Carol complained of severe pain in her left arm, and a jail nurse ordered that she be taken to the emergency room at nearby Cox North Medical Center. Deputy Scott Harrison took photos of Carol's injuries, and they are time stamped between 15:01 hours (3:01 p.m. on 9/9/15) and 16:09 hours (4:09 p.m. on 9/9/15). Shortly after that, Carol's arm was X-rayed, showing a comminuted fracture, and she was transported to Cox South, where her left arm was placed in a temporary cast in preparation for trauma surgery.

The beginnings of severe bruising in photo taken about
one hour after Missouri cops had broken Carol's arm.
The X-rays are time stamped between 5 and 6 p.m on 9/9/15., so by early evening, Harrison knew Carol's arm was broken -- and he almost certainly knew how it was broken, and by whom. Carol said she could see him feverishly texting information to someone. We don't know the content of those texts because they have not been produced in discovery, but our guess is they went something like this:

"Holy shit, we've got a problem! Officer ________ broke that woman's arm! Worst of all, there goes my pension!!!" 

So what does the time stamp in item No. 2 tell us. It shows that bright and early the next morning, at 8:34 a.m. on 9/10/15, someone had concocted a phony story of Carol hurting herself by flailing about in the backseat -- and the photo was a sorry effort to document that.

We've reported before about the cops' theory, stated in their incident-report notes, that Carol must have injured herself because, Lord knows, cops never hurt anybody. This is from Officer Debi Wade's written report:

Once she was detained in the back of the car, Deputy Harrison retrieved her [Missouri] ID from her purse, and then gave the purse to Mr. Shuler. Mr. Shuler was asked to leave the scene so that the movers could get to work. He sat in his car across the street, refusing to leave the area while we allowed the movers in the house and turned the keys over to them. When I walked past the patrol car a couple of minutes later, Carol was screaming and jerking her body all over the back seat and cage of the car very violently.

We've shown that Wade's story -- and similar ones from other officers -- is a load of crap. For one, Carol was seat-belted into the vehicle, using the system you can see in the photograph at top. Two, Carol's medical records show her injuries are inconsistent with the cops' fantasy story. In short, it's not possible to inflict such severe injuries on yourself by flailing about in the back seat of a patrol car. From our post on the subject:

A comminuted fracture is a break or splinter of the bone into more than two fragments. Since considerable force and energy is required to fragment bone, fractures of this degree occur after high-impact trauma such as in vehicular accidents.

External fixation devices such as splints and casts are usually inadequate in treating this type of fracture. Repairing a comminuted fracture often requires open surgery to restructure the bone to normal anatomy.

Can a person, in the tiny cage depicted in the photograph, generate enough force and energy to produce a comminuted fracture -- one that put Carol at threat of shock, blood loss, nerve damage, kidney damage, and elevated pressures, according to medical records? Of course not.

An X-ray of Carol's broken arm shows a bone
fragment almost breaking through the skin, perhaps
stopped only by pooling blood in the dark area
at right.
But the time stamp above shows that Jim Arnott's minions started working on that bogus story first thing the morning after they had learned of Carol's broken arm.

As for Point No. 1, the use of (or lack of use) of seat belts in police transports has become the source of lawsuits across the nation. One such lawsuit is Brown v. Missouri Department of Corrections, where a prisoner was injured in a vehicle crash when he was not secured with a seat belt. A Department of Transportation reported titled "Legal Issues Regarding Police and Seat Belts" provides data and analysis of the issue. This is from a July 2017 LS post:

If you Google "prisoner transport and seat belts," you will find there has been litigation around the country about instances where prisoners or suspects were injured after officers failed to secure them with seat belts. (See here, here, and here.) Police agencies have paid out lots of money for failing to secure individuals riding in the back of patrol cars.

Our research indicates many police agencies have adopted policies that require officers to use seat belts whenever transporting prisoners or suspects. This is from page 745 of the policies and procedures manual of the Springfield (Mo.) Police Department, which is available online:

All prisoners transported in a police car shall be secured with a seat belt for their safety.

There is little doubt that the Greene County manual, which has not been produced in discovery, requires deputies to place prisoners or suspects in a seat belt. And Carol was, in fact, seat-belted into the back seat.

Is that all we've learned from recently obtained photographs? Nope. We have one more that helps reveal the brutality that was used against Carol.


(To be continued)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ashley Madison customers revealed: James M. Bookout, top administrator for finance and business affairs at Troy U, appears at notorious Web site


James Bookout
A high-ranking administrator at Troy University appears as a paying customer on the Alabama list at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site, according to publicly available records.

James M. Bookout, senior vice chancellor for finance and business affairs, has been a major figure at Troy for 15 years. What does his office do? This is from the university Web site:

The mission of the Office of Finance and Business Affairs at Troy University (comprising the Troy, Montgomery, Dothan and Phenix City campuses) is to deliver an array of support services to students, faculty and staff that contribute to the enhancement and delivery of the University's academic programs and student programs and activities essential to the educational experience of the University. Through a highly-trained and service-oriented staff, the Office of Finance and Business Affairs is committed to embrace change and focus on responsiveness in support of the University's mission.

Bookout joined Troy's administrative team in 2003, as vice chancellor of financial affairs. Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. appointed Bookout to his current position in 2008. From an article at Troy University Magazine:

Mr. Bookout joined Troy University’s administrative team in October 2003 as Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs. In his new role, Bookout also takes on new business responsibilities including Auxiliary Services, Facilities and Capital Planning, Dining Services and the Athletics Business Office. He will report directly to the Chancellor.

“Jim Bookout is an outstanding leader and I have no doubt he will excel in his new role,” Chancellor Hawkins said. “Troy University prides itself on efficiency and good stewardship. Mr. Bookout understands how to return the maximum service for every dollar we invest. He is the right man at the right time.”

The 2008 magazine article also shined light on Bookout's background:

Bookout, a native of Chipley, FL, is a CPA and holds a bachelor’s degrees in business management from the University of West Florida and accounting from Florida State University, as well as a master’s degree from Boston University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Alabama.

Bookout's marital status is not clear. Property records show that he lives at 503 Flavia Circle in Troy's Ridgewood subdivision, and the property has an appraised value of $260,800.

Property records from 2013 show that Alicia G. Bookout sold the Flavia Circle property -- or her share in it -- for $262,770 to  James M. Bookout. It appears they were married and lived at that property before getting a divorce somewhere around 2013. We don't have access to full AlaCourt.com records, but it appears there was a divorce, and Ms. Bookout moved to a property in Destin, Florida, at least for a while. It's not clear if the couple has children, but a Brent Bookout works as an HR manager for Troy University Dining Services.

We sought comment from James M. Bookout for this post, but he has not responded to our queries.


Previously:


Article with links to 1-40 in Ashley Madison series

(41) David Armistead, director of enterprise sales, TekLinks, Birmingham (10/19/17)

(42) William House, VP and controller, HealthSouth, Birmingham (10/26/17)

(43) Olin B. Barnes III, VP, One Resource Group, Birmingham (11/1/17)

(44) T.J. Bunn Jr., ST Bunn Construction, Tuscaloosa (11/2/17)

(45) Todd Deffenbaugh, VP and controller, Express Oil Change, Birmingham (11/6/17)

(46) Richard D. Crites, lawyer and reserve deputy, Springfield, MO (11/13/17)

(47) Mark C. Trudeau, CEO, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, St. Louis, MO (11/15/17)

(48) Peter Blasi, lawyer, Evans Blasi, St. Louis, MO (11/16/17)

(49) Todd Wiesehan, director of resource management, Christian Co., MO (11/22/17)

(50) Spencer Desai, lawyer, Carmody MacDonald, St. Louis, MO (11/27/17)

(51) Johnny Aycock, assistant to the president, University of West Alabama (12/19/17)

(52) Chris McIntyre, district judge, Calhoun County, AL (1/3/18)

(53) William W. Smith, lawyer, Smith and Alspaugh, Birmingham (1/10/18)

(54) Jake Reinbold, lawyer, Turner Reid Law Firm, Springfield, MO (1/11/18)

(55) Chevene Hill, lawyer, Birmingham (2/15/18)

Nicholas Jain discusses his candidacy in Dunklin County, MO, but makes no mention of the drunk-driving conviction that lurks in his background


Nicholas Jain (fourth from left) at a gathering of
Republican candidates in Dunklin County, MO.
Nicholas Jain, Missouri's notorious drunk-driving prosecutor, is running for prosecuting  attorney (PA) of Dunklin County. We've reported on Jain's likely plans for several weeks -- even before he left his job as assistant PA in Greene County -- and the Delta Dunklin County Democrat newspaper recently made it official.

The Democrat reports that Jain will run against Republican incumbent Jeff McCormick. From an article titled "Republican candidates speak at Lincoln Day Banquet":

Nicholas Jain, who is also seeking the position of Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney, addressed the group. Jain is a native of Kennett and after law school moved to Springfield where he joined the Green County prosecuting attorney’s office, specializing in domestic violence, driving while intoxicated and white-collar crimes. “I’m running because I want to prosecute tough and smart, support law enforcement, and I want to work tirelessly to fight crime in Dunklin County,” said Jain. “I want to apply all of the things I learned in Springfield to work here in Dunklin County.” He explained how working closely with law enforcement to the point of going through training, DUI testing, and child forensics improves his ability to ask the best questions. He said being accessible to the victims is one of the biggest assets to successful prosecution. “I promise that if I’m elected prosecutor, I will work as hard as I can to do the best job that I can,” he said. “I’m asking you for your vote and I’m asking you for your trust as the next prosecutor for Dunklin County.”

Hmmm . . . Jain mentions that he worked on drunk-driving cases and even went through training for DUI testing. But no mention of his own DUI conviction, which we've reported in considerable detail. Surely, Jain meant to mention that to the law-abiding Republicans in his home county, so it must have just slipped his mind. Perhaps someone needs to notify the press and political figures in Dunklin County about the DUI skeleton in Jain's extra-wide closet.

Here is information about Jain's opponent:

Prosecuting Attorney Jeff McCormick, who is seeking a second term for Dunklin County, spoke to the group. With over 15 years of legal experience, McCormick during his time as Prosecuting Attorney has prosecuted over 5,000 criminal cases and hopes to continue to serve Dunklin County. At 44 years old, McCormick said of the Democrat party, “The party of what I thought I was, left.” Being from Missouri, he said he has always held conservative values, and it was not a giant leap from one to the other. “The values of this party are absolutely the values I have always had and what represents me,” declared McCormick. “This is where I wanted to be…for the first time, no matter what, in the next election cycle, Dunklin County will have the first Republican prosecutor that it has ever had.” McCormick praised [county GOP chair Tammy] Gibson for her work in expanding the party and being the driving force behind it. “It is nice to be a part of this party and to have things that are occurring, to be on the move, and taking a step forward all the time.” He then asked for everyone’s vote and the opportunity to serve again.

Let's note a few curious items in Jain's statement:

(1) He says one of his goals is to "support law enforcement." That's what a prosecuting attorney is supposed to do? I thought the job entailed seeking justice, on behalf of all citizens in the county. What if law enforcement acts corruptly in a particular case, as we've seen they can do in Greene County. Is Jain's job still to "support law enforcement." What if cops in his area are so corrupt that THEY need to be prosecuted? Does Jain apply the law or "support law enforcement"?

(2) Jain says he wants to apply what he learned in Springfield? Does that include bringing cases where probable cause clearly is lacking? He's done that on multiple occasions in Greene County, as we've reported several times. From a recent LS post:

Along with his boss, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, Jain showed quite a knack for bringing criminal charges without probable cause. He did it in the "assault on a law enforcement officer" case involving my wife, Carol, and our unlawful eviction in September 2015. He did it again in a DUI case involving Springfield resident Charles Hollis Roux. In fact, trial judge Margaret Palmietto granted the defense's motion to suppress in the Roux matter, tossing the case for lack of probable cause.

Jain and Patterson appealed, and the Missouri Court of Appeals went against its own precedent to overrule Palmietto and force Roux to trial on April 26. He pleaded guilty to two minor vehicle-related infractions, and Palmietto took the DUI matter under advisement.

All kinds of issues likely will be discussed in the Dunklin County PA race over the next few months. But you can rest assured Nicholas Jain does not want his DUI conviction to be one of them.