AUSTRALIA was settled by criminals and convicts.
FOSTER'S is Australian for beer.
The identity theft victim of Larry Maxwell, who is now a convicted criminal, was a guy named John FOSTER.
COINCIDENCE?!! I DON'T THINK SO!!!
After my blog coverage of the trial, I was very privileged to be invited to dinner at the home of John Foster and Melanie Michaels. And, by "home," I obviously mean their house in a tidy, lovely, arguably-affluent suburb. I don't mean the house they own at 1564 Hillside Ave. N., their ownership very real and yet title was fraudulently transferred.
At the dinner table, juicy documents mixed with yummy bratwurst as myself and community leaders from the Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods met and socialized with the Foster/Michaels family. Present was Kip Browne, the Chair of the Jordan Neighborhood, his lovely wife, Kelly, and Mortgage Geek Extraordinaire Jeff Skrenes. Jan Havlish was also present. She is the real estate agent who helped Melony Michaels crack open the one of the biggest mortgage fraud cases in the history of Minnesota, picking up the trail of Larry Maxwell from clues as minor as a Christmas card.
I should make it clear that no document was shared that didn't make it into the trial as evidence, but how convenient and revealing it was to look at those documents--possibly make some copies--and compare information.
Much valuable info was shared amid champagne and cheesecake...
Some of the information was found online as insights verbally relayed were quickly turned into an eager search on the internet by somebody who knew just where to go in the Hennepin County Court website. Amid Foster's beer and bratwurst (deliberately burned to charred perfection) we had our laptops out on the dinner table and we hammered at the keyboards, picking up more of the trail of Larry Maxwell once notes were compared and sleuthing skills were combined.
There is a civil case spinning out of the Larry Maxwell criminal trial. In fact, this civil case is so messy that it has Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. SUING ITSELF. Seriously!
Here's a look at the plaintiff and defendants in that case, which is grinding its way through the court systems but has apparently been the subject of virtually no coverage in the media. Time to rectify THAT.
The case is 27-CV-09-6595. The plaintiff is a frothy mouthful, but here it is: Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for Countrywide Home Loans.
The plaintiffs in this case are even more revealing, especially given the fact "MERS" is suing ITSELF. How can MERS sue itself? Apparently, it's a matter of branches being independently owned. So think of it like a Ford dealership suing another Ford dealership. So is Ford suing itself? In our perceptions, arguably, but legally there is a massive distinction between the plaintiff and defendant.
So consider, if you will, the defendants and keep in mind this is NOT THE ORDER the defendants are listed on the lawsuit.
DEFENDANTS: Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. Flint, Michigan, 48501. Also named is the MERS in Reston, Virginia, 20190.
Larry Maxwell is a defendant, but so is his wife, Vicki Y. Cox-Maxwell. It is not clear whether or not Larry Maxwell and Vicki are divorced. There was a divorce action filed in court but it doesn't appear to have been completed. Some individuals very close to the investigation believe they are divorced, but that remains unconfirmed.
Another defendant is Franklin National Bank of Minneapolis.
Another is JADT Development Group, LLC. This is an entity involved in development in North Minneapolis. Tim Baylor is the president. This is the guy who built 29 high-end town homes at W. River Road, in the Hawthorne Neighborhood. According to the testimony of Greg Coleman, a former Minnesota Viking, Larry Maxwell was the first president of the homeowners association. The address listed for JADT is 2313 W. River Road, the same as the luxury townhouse development.
Another defendant is River View Homes, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55422. From the name, one presumes this entity may be connected with 2313 W. River Road, somehow. However I've had difficulty nailing down more info. I do not find an LLC with that precise name and location registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. (Those corporate registrations are easily accessible online)
Some additional "high end" defendants include the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Attorney General Lori Swanson is the lawyer listed for the United States.
I know what you're thinking: how can you sue the United States in a STATE Court? Well, on 4/24/2009 there was a notation: "Notice of Case Reassignment." One suspects that, like the T.J. Waconia fraudsters case, this thing is heading for federal court. There are some advantages to filing a case in STATE court first, then having it removed to federal court, but that discussion is rather arcane for this blog.
Let us return to beer and brats and other pieces of information.
In the course of dinner, I was doing my outrageous verbal imitation of court spectator Peter Richard Stephenson, and how he walked right up to Defense Attorney Larry Reed and said something like, "Excuse me, sir, I just wanted to ask you a question...when you're saying stuff, and it's not really clear what you're saying...are you doing that ON PURPOSE?"
Larry Reed looked at Peter politely and said, "I'm not sure I know what you mean" and then went on about his highly-paid lawyer business.
I didn't even know Peter's last name off the top of my head, and I assumed Peter was a harmless eccentric. I had seen Peter at one JACC meeting, seated right next to Lt. Rugel, who ignored him, and I noted how the Chair, Kip Browne, let Peter ask a question from the spectator gallery...treating Peter with the kind of detached, reluctant kindness one gives to harmless eccentrics, particularly when they are getting on in years.
Notably, Kip Browne did NOT say something like, "Oh, I see the Level Three Sex Offender who molests children as young as 8 has something to add to the JACC meeting!"
As I told Kip later, "I was taking my social cues from you. And you treated him like a harmless eccentric."
I had also seen evidence Peter was not a dummy: in fact, he'd handed over VERY interesting documents about a couple pieces of property in North Minneapolis--owned by somebody you really wouldn't expect to own two properties like that--and Peter knew his way around the court system so completely that he was capable of giving valuable orientation tips. Indeed, I saw Peter talking to some washed-out chronic alcoholic who was scheduled to appear before Judge Chu, and trying--in Peter's intensely loud and annoying way--to give the clueless SOB some valuable pointers.
And so, when asked who Peter was, by both Melony Michaels (the wife of John Foster) and one unnamed person in the court system, I answered, "Oh, he's sort of an eccentric who hangs around meetings in the Jordan Neighborhood, sometimes. He comes off kind of weird, but he's no dummy." I may have used the word "harmless."
So there I was at the Michaels/Foster house, at their lovely table, doing my imitation of Peter annoying the (expletive) (expletive) out of Larry Reed (who, to his credit, treated Peter with civilized politeness) when Kip Browne was, all, like, wait a minute. PETER was there? PETER THE PEDOPHILE?!
Suddenly, perceptions of who was who shifted dramatically. Kip grabbed my laptop, went to the Department of Corrections website where sex offenders have their own baseball card-like listings, describing their heinous crimes, showing their pictures. Kip handed back my laptop. "Is that him?" Kip asked.
An expletive in response. YES!!! Yes, that was the guy who hung around the Maxwell trial constantly, who insinuated himself into conversations because, well, decent people are kind, not overtly rude to somebody who acts like Peter Stephenson, particularly when somebody like Stephenson does show glimmers of intelligence, does have valuable insights because he's been watching the trial. What really killed me was I had seen that particular picture before--indeed, I had looked up all the sex offenders in the 55411 zip code in the course of researching Junaid Maalik, who used to live at 3024 6th St. N. and got a job that required a SQUEAKY CLEAN BACKGROUND, for cripe's sake.
And, yes, I personally got Junaid fired from that job. That's how we treat sex offenders here on Johnny Northside Dot Com.
But as far as Peter Richard Stephenson's picture on the state's sex offender--it's a dated picture. Peter is sometimes clean-shaven, now, and the color has gone out of his facial hair. He has less hair on his head, too, and it is whiter. In a nutshell, Peter the Pedophile doesn't LOOK like that picture as much as he used to, and a more recent picture would be a service to society, particularly society in the 55411 zip code.
So I was FURIOUS that Peter had managed to deceive me in this way, had managed to finagle, through me, an introduction to Melanie Michaels with the caveat he was annoying...but harmless. With the more complete and detailed information I now had about Peter Richard Stephenson, I sat right down at the Michaels/Foster dinner table and banged out the previous post.
The real question is WHAT WAS PETER DOING SPENDING SO MUCH TIME AT THAT HEARING and, it seemed to me, trying very hard to gather loose nuggets of information? For who?
The APPARENT connection between Peter the Pedophile and the Larry Maxwell trial is Keith Reitman, the former owner of 1564 Hillside, the seller in the fraudulent deal which ensnared the Foster/Micheals family through identity theft. Peter Stephenson knows Reitman. He told an anti-Semitic joke about Reitman. In several different ways, Peter indicated he knew Reitman well and, on one occasion, actually told me Reitman is or was his landlord.
THAT information is unconfirmed. Anybody who has different or contrary information, or an ability to CONFIRM that information, is welcome to contribute what they know.
The dinner--and it was a lovely dinner--ended with Kip Browne playing the guitar, and Jeff Skrenes singing a song about "The Whores of Amsterdam." Somehow, after discussing multiple layers of scandal, the song was oddly appropriate and, I will say, well sung.
Leaving the Michaels/Foster house with a plastic bowl of chili, I had to wonder what amazing new perceptions they had gained of North Minneapolis. Realtor Jan Havlish kept asking, again and again in a variety of ways, how individuals known to be involved in fraudulent activities continue to sit on neighborhood boards, to be spokespeople in the community?
I explained, as well as I could, that bad actors are not without their base of support in our community. That we sit "nose to nose, and elbow to elbow" with bad actors, we sit on the same Housing Committee boards as slumlords, who are capable of gathering their own votes to gain positions of power. We who are trying to turn our community around find ourselves "Facebook friends" with individuals who may be criminally indicted any moment. Corruption has crept into our boards and our North Minneapolis CHURCHES at multiple levels.
Like warfare in an urban environment, our revitalization fight is a "house to house" battle. In the Hawthorne neighborhood, the chairman of the board and his three little children (one more on the way) lives directly across from one of the most active "pill houses" in North Minneapolis, and we count the days to May 10, when (supposedly) the druggies will finally be evicted.
Three parting thoughts spoken at that dinner party will be parting thoughts for this blog post:
FIRST, Melony Micheals and John Foster never asked for this anti-mortgage fraud mission, but they have become key players in something much bigger than themselves. They are writing history in what may later become known as The Mortgage Fraud Era.
So I told Melony that I realize she is tired after a 7-week trial, but it was her investigation that blew this thing open. She should not quit. She should keep investigating. (In Kip and Kelly's vehicle, on the way home, we agreed John and Melony's story would make a great movie on Lifetime)
SECOND, the fate of the lot on which 1564 Hillside sits should be resolved in a way that is positive for the community, and John Foster (as owner in record, through fraud) has some ability to assist in that resolution. Fraudulent transfer of property does, in fact, transfer title. For now, the Fosters have "colorable title" as the foreclosure process grinds much-too-slowly forward. The area of law involving fraudulent transfer of title is arcane and obscure, but the bottom line is: The Fosters have a limited ability to control the fate of that property, and to "quit claim" their rights.
Naturally, Melony and John will want to follow the advice of their attorney. And they have filed a civil suit against Larry Maxwell, so they are represented.
However, on their own Foster/Michaels have raised the idea of that land being transferred to the city. Hopefully, city officials will assist in that matter. Don Samuels, as the City Council Member for Ward 5, appears a logical point of contact.
THIRD, angels among us. Melony Michaels is religious. She worked in a hospice and claims to have seen angels. She believes there is a higher purpose in what we endure. In many ways, John Foster was the perfect victim because of his spotless credit, perfect for a "no document loan." In another way, he was the worst possible victim imaginable. Foster saves and organizes his paperwork obsessively. He is introverted, but his wife is a super-extrovert capable of "going Columbo" on a wrong committed against her husband, and she did.
When something causes an imbalance in the universe--like the massive mortgage fraud committed by Larry Maxwell, for example--the universe pushes back to right itself. An "anti-Maxwell" emerges, and that person is Melony Michaels. She is unafraid to dig into this massive, evil fraud and follow where it leads, because she believes, "When you go into the ground, that is not the end, you do not just become dirt." She believes all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to stand aside and do nothing. Instead of victimization, she finds higher purpose.
As far as dinner, drinks and conversation, it's pretty hard to beat a night like this, anywhere in the word.