Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Larry Maxwell Mortgage Fraud Trial: Defense Attorney Larry Reed Plays Maxwell's Last, Desperate Cards

Detective Cardenas, Photo by John Hoff

With stacks of evidence that appears to nail his client ten dozen ways from Sunday, Defense Attorney Larry Reed could still, somehow, extract a pound of flesh and give Larry Maxwell a chance to say, "I went down swinging." In closing arguments, Reed repeatedly attacked the character and integrity of Detective Cory Cardenas, Bloomington Police Department, pictured above.

Yes, in the course of a five hour interrogation with Larry Maxwell, the police detective had--imagine this--repeatedly LIED TO MAXWELL.

What a novel concept: a police detective who...

...lies to a suspect during interrogation, just to trick out information! Why, it's like water boarding, only without the water and the board!

The body language of the jury members told the tale: small nods during some portions of the prosecution's closing, even a "nod of revelation" by the juror I call "Loud Shirt Guy" as the elements of racketeering were explained by the prosecution. In contrast, there were crossed arms and even incredulous looks during Reed's rather rambling closing statement, particularly from the Dude Who Loves Sports, a juror whose emotions show strongly in his face. The body language wasn't extreme or obvious, but if you were looking for it, it was definitely there.

The courtroom was packed, but not to capacity. Some of the seats in the back were taken by what appeared to be a group of high school students, who seemed bored out of their minds as Judge Chu read the jury instructions. The mere reading of the instructions took roughly HALF AN HOUR. A reporter from the Star Tribune was present.

Now able to sit in the courtroom, the wife of identity theft victim John Foster observed proceedings. She is an insurance agent. One day her husband walked to his mailbox and found a statement about a property he didn't actually own. I am not providing her name because, as far as I can tell, it has not come out in the media and she is a victim along with her husband.

The first thing you notice is she's SMALL. Her head comes up about as high as my chest. She wears big sunglasses indoors, like an incognito movie star, and the sort of black pants suit you might wear to a funeral which you're obligated to attend...but it's not like you're really SAD, so why shouldn't you look sharp? The pants suit featured a decorative pin shaped like the crown of a king...or a queen.

"She's queen for a day!" joked her friend, the real estate agent. She's an older woman and, on this particular day, wore a necklace of hand-carved beads. The women remind me somewhat of tourists, taking everything in, seemingly ENJOYING themselves. They've gone from being turned away by public officials to being the instigators of this massive legal proceeding. The women credited Detective Cardenas, who they call "The Great Cardini."

These two women appear very close friends, the kind of enduring female relationship one reads about in "Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood." When the mortgage fraud/identity theft issue first manifested, the clues were as thin as April ice, but a key break came when the real estate agent made a phone call and got somebody to spill a name: Larry Maxwell.

The deal involving LARRY MAXWELL was ugly and messy, said this source, and his office wasn't going to do have business LARRY MAXWELL, anymore. Pulling on that thread of information produced more information: Maxwell had been convicted in the past of, oh gee, fraud.

The amateur, self-initiated investigation by John Foster's wife--aided by the real estate agent friend--took over a year. At one point, a thick file was turned over to the Commerce Department and they LOST THE FILE, forcing an arduous reassembly of documentation. There are some raw feelings still apparent over the way the Commerce Department initially offered no help, but Detective Cardenas seems quite involved in smoothing over those emotions between John Foster's wife and the mortgage fraud investigators from the Commerce Department. When Cardenas himself went to the Commerce Department, THEY HELPED. That's why--among many other reasons--the victims in this matter call the detective "The Great Cardini."

There's another great nickname in the court room: The Imposter Foster. This is what they call Jerome L. Kingrussell at the Foster household. Recently, another bit of humor concerns the condition of the house at 1564 Hillside Ave. N. Pointing to my blog post on the subject, click here, which showed the condition of the interior, John Foster's wife joked, "Look, honey, if you make me mad, this is where I'm sending you." She also says, of Larry Maxwell, "His worst mistake was that my husband married ME."

Talking to "Mrs. John Foster" I learned she has indeed filed a civil suit against Larry Maxwell. I also learned, incredibly, there was a $40,000 insurance claim against the house at 1564 Hillside, due to freezing and water damage. The claim was paid out. One dubious, doubtful, dodgey thing after another happened with properties in North Minneapolis--plus a few in the suburubs--but now the chickens have come home to roost thanks to a spitfire housewife/insurance agent who "went Columbo" over somebody stealing her husband's identity.

This is the jury of 12 men and women, good and true, who will sit in judgment of Larry Maxwell. Two alternate jurors also serve.

# The Olive Man. Prematurely balding, he looks like he should be sitting in a cafe in Italy, or sunning himself on a beach in Lebanon. Yesterday he was actually wearing an olive-colored shirt. He is quiet, sits way back in the corner, frequently crosses his arms.

# Next to Olive Man sits the only racial minority on the jury: the Asian guy. He has a prominent jaw, and frequently wears a serious expression, leaning forward more often than the other jurors.

# The Tall Gopher. Often wearing a U of M jacket, he probably doesn't mind sitting in the back because he is so tall. He leans back with frequency, seems rather casual.

# The Businessman. He comes to court in a SUIT AND TIE, and from a distance I once mistook him for the prosecutor, Brad Johnson. This guy is the chili cook off champion at his church, using a recipe he admits to finding on the internet which features not only hamburger, but bacon. He'd be happy to share the recipe with others, he told his fellow juror.

# Mr. Edina. Sometimes seen wearing an "Edina" jacket, this guy doesn't let a lot of emotions show, but sometimes I think I see an emotion leak from his eyelids in moments when he isn't careful to control his facial expressions:

CONTEMPT. He can't BELIEVE the stuff being pulled by the defense. He can HARDLY WAIT to nail Maxwell's hide to a wall. During the prosecution's closing argument, he seems to be enjoying himself, excited by the prospect of dishing out justice.

# The Draftee. This fair haired, early 50s woman complained about a draft she constantly feels in her seat. She sits next to The Tall Brunette, and frequently their facial expressions will be in sync. Once they both laughed, out loud, at something said by Defense Attorney Reed. It may have been the moment when he said, "Objection to ballparking!"

# The Dude Who Loves Sports. Young, athletic and handsome--though with a bad leg requiring elevation--the Dude doesn't conceal his emotional reactions. He's very interactive with his fellow jury members. When the jury is behind closed doors, Dude's voice floats loudly to the top, laughing and joking around. It's obvious which way he's leaning: Maxwell is guilty as sin and, to make matters worse, there is danger of dying from acute boredom.

# The soccer mom. This woman is as all-American as apple pie. Sitting next to Dude, she seems to have a motherly concern for him, and Dude's gregariousness makes her smile, slightly. Skepticism is apparent in the way her lip turns down, from time to time.

# Pink Ladies 1, 2, 3. This clique of women sits all together, has a penchant for wearing pink, sometimes red, and consists of, first, the older woman who gave up surgery to remain on duty. This woman crossed her arms almost as much as Dude when Larry Reed gave his closing arguments. She seems prepared to lower the boom on Maxwell. However, she's an alternate, so it appears she won't be lowering the boom on ANYBODY.

Second, the Smiler. This woman smiles with great frequency, sometimes deliberately looking at somebody--myself included--and flashing a smile of acknowledgement. Things that make jurors laugh ALWAYS make her laugh.

Something she found very amusing: Prosecutor Brad Johnson holding up the document with the signature space sliced out, looking through the hole in the page while Larry Reed objected to assertions the document had been "altered." It's a good thing she has a sense of humor: she's an alternate, and so her SEVEN WEEKS of sacrifice will be, arguably, nothing more than civic duty. One suspects, however, she played a role of being pleasant to her fellow jurors, so the sacrifice was not in vain.

Last, The Queen. A senior citizen with gray, flowing hair, she sits with a regal bearing front and center, conscious of her power. Who must be conviced? SHE must be convinced. She gives so many small nods that sometimes the movement seems slightly involuntary. During closing arguments, she was nodding in agreement to assertions by the prosecutor. She looked straight on at Larry Reed, never nodded. On the last day of closing arguments, she appears with a new hairdo, flashy earrings and--good lord!--a flowing scarf like a 1920s movie star. There's a strong chance this woman will be elected foreman.

# Loud Shirt Guy. Possibly the youngest juror of the bunch, he wears shirts that feature flame motifs and broad, short sleeves. He looks like an extra from Too Fast Too Furious. When he appears, I start hearing the soundtrack from the movie, "Bang" by Rye Rye.

My kid LOVED that show. For the record, in a spirit of full disclosure.

# Barrel O' Fun. A portly guy, he tries desperately to keep awake by forcefully, repeatedly blinking his eyes. Monday, wearing a root beer colored shirt, he reminded me of a barrel. This guy takes more notes than anybody else, holding his notepad at chest level. Just as Dude's facial expressions are a barometer of which way the jury might be leaning, so are the moments when Blinky is taking notes. Which way is he leaning? Toward the prosecution. Duh.

Barrel seems like, in another context, he could be the life of the party. Though not as socially confident as Dude, he strikes me as the kind of guy who would drink half a bottle of peppermint schnapps, then suggest climbing a tree. If Dude, Loud Shirt Guy and Barrel O' Fun got together, they would be the rat pack to challenge all other packs.

Which leads me to wonder: what friendships are being formed on this jury which might outlast the trial of Larry Maxwell? These jurors have been together a LONG time.

Brad Johnson's closing arguments were brief, supplemented by PowerPoint sides. He hardly wasted a single word, and when explaining concepts used exhibits that were actually in the trial as examples. Names floated up during closing arguments, and I had to wonder if any of these names could be some kind of thread, some kind of connection.

Trent Bowman. Ely Cummings. Bernard Holmes at 4503 York Avenue, who forged documents for money, and also could fix your computer. Larry Charles Smith and his company Checkmate Enterprises, Checkmate Auto. Denise Randall at First USA Title. Closings where fraud took place happened in Brooklyn Center, at First USA Title and Signature Title. "First Fridays," a networking group founded by Terrance Large. Michelle Edwards, Maxwell's "personal assistant extraordinaire. Maxwell called her his "person Friday."

Addresses are another valuable clue. I include this stuff so it will come up later in search engines, and folks who care about the property in question will learn of the colorful tale. Here are some ADDRESSES which came up in the course of these proceedings:

8900 12th Ave. S.

3000 Girard Ave. N.

2642 James Ave. N.

2731 Upton Ave. N.

411 Penn Ave. N.

3431 Penn Ave. N.

3123-25 Newton Ave. N.

The closing arguments by prosecution included some of this stuff:

THE TWO HATS OF LARRY MAXWELL. In certain situations, Larry Maxwell was not only a real estate agent but ALSO a mortgage broker. Lies were used to get lenders to part with funds, said Johnson. That's what this case is about.

A CLOSER WITH LITTLE CONSCIENCE. This phrase describes Glenda Coats. She knew something was wrong, but she didn't care as long as she was getting paid.

THE CHARACTER OF CHARACTER WITNESSES. Individuals like Joe Reed ("a delightful Southern gentleman") and Spike Moss and Greg Coleman and Ramona Graham Banks were revealing more about THEMSELVES, said Brad Johnson, than about Larry Maxwell. We learned these witnesses would show up to help a friend in trouble.

But what did we learn from these witnesses about MAXWELL? Mostly, said Johnson, that Maxwell was intelligent, capable, connected, somebody who could "turn a wheel" in the words of Joe Reed, i.e. a man who could get things done. Larry Maxwell used these abilities to deceive, to get away with fraud until finally cornered.

Maxwell was at the center as "The Dealmaker," Johnson asserted. Johnson made a point of reading an email to the jury which showed Larry Maxwell knew a lake home property in Henrico, North Carolina was NOT rented, not generating income for Tanya Patterson. Yet lease documents were altered, creating new documents to show a fictional stream of revenue from the property. At some point, though, Larry Maxwell exchanged heated emails with Tanya Patterson, blaming HER for the problems associated with the deal.

"If ever there was a person who was shouting through an email," Brad Johnson said, "this person was shouting through an email."

The angry missive reveals a side of Larry Maxwell not apparent to the jury. This soft-spoken man, who sits and hardly reacts most of the time, whose voice is nearly effeminate, is capable of writing a blistering tirade.

During the prosecution's closing, "Mrs. John Foster" is sitting behind me, and she snickers as fake notes are projected on the screen, purportedly writing about John Foster's living arrangements. A "Tina Foster" was invented out of thin air. Ah, Tina. Why don't you ever come home for Thanksgiving?

Brad Johnson came close to the jury, showing the document with the signature box sliced out. Essential stuff you need if you're going to forge documents and steal millions of dollars: scissor. Scotch tape. White correction fluid.

Johnson's power point slides featured excerpts of testimony from the witnesses who took the stand. There was not a single excerpt lacking an objection from Reed, none successful.

At another point, Johnson held up some dark blue closing packets on various properties, found in the possession of Larry Maxwell. Why didn't the imposter, Kingrussell, have this stuff? Kingrussell was, after all, acting in the role of "buyer."

Kingrussell didn't have the closing packets, said Johnson, because Kingrussell is "a crackhead" and "you don't want a crackhead running around...with this stuff." Word is Kingrussell was arrested in Iowa for trying to pass a forged check at an Indian casino.

At that moment, it seems to me I can perceive a red flush appear on Larry Maxwell's thick neck in response to this allegation about consorting with a crackhead, but Maxwell doesn't move, he doesn't flinch.

Johnson wrapped up this way: "In closing this closing, let me say this..."

Larry Maxwell is NOT responsible for all the mortgage fraud in Hennepin County. Don't go holding him accountable for all of that." However, in the matters charged, Larry Maxwell was the "common thread."

"He did it," said Johnson. "And he needs to own it." Convict Maxwell, Johnson urged, of all the counts charged.

In the hallway, during a break, John Foster's wife told me Detective Cory Cardenas is "her hero." She wants to make that clear. She wants those words to appear on my blog. DETECTIVE CORY CARDENAS IS A HERO.

Cardenas is striking in his immaculate grooming. There is something perpetually young about him, something innocent that would make a hardened criminal want to blurt out CORY, DON'T KNOW HOW IT IS!!! LET ME TELL YOU HOW IT IS, OUT ON THE STREETS!!!

Cardenas was not eager to pose for a photo--he waved his arms to keep that "hero" word away from himself, god lord!--but John Foster's wife talked him into the photo, above.

The closing arguments for the defense were not supplemented by any slides. Reed seems rather "old school" about technology. Indeed, he frequently relies on help from the prosecutor to work the machine which projects documents on a screen.

The closing began almost as an apology: please don't hold his client, Larry Maxwell, responsible for anything he, Larry Reed, had done wrong in the course of the trial.

The main body of Reed's closing was a rambling litany of excuses and insinuations about other people being guilty. He actually called Larry Maxwell an "innocent dupe." You have to wonder if anybody tried that defense the LAST time Maxwell was convicted of, inter alia, forging documents as part of a loan transaction.

Reed clearly wanted the jurors to STAY AWAY FROM THE MOUNTAIN OF PAPERWORK. There was, Reed said, no need to consider "all that paper" to make a decision in this case. They could rely on their common sense. He wanted to talk about JUSTICE, here. JUSTICE. The statute for racketeering was, Reed asserted, confusing "mumbo jumbo."

Reed then launched into an extended attack on the character of Detective Cory Cardenas. Cardenas had lied, said Reed, and "disregarded leads" and "made a false report" and "disregarded what Kingrussell said." In place of Larry Maxwell, the defense attorney offered up the equivalent of the "one armed man" in The Fugitive. What about the mysterious guy in a "Magnum" sports car, who had approached Kingrussell on the street and offered him money to impersonate a property buyer at some closings. Like Perry Mason, like Matlock, Larry Reed reveals the REAL mastermind: The man in the Magnum.

I have to wonder if there's a connection to their "expert" witness from Georgia, who graduated "magnum (sic) cum laude."

"Excuse me while I puke," John Foster's wife wrote on a note to me, as Reed went on-and-on-and-on about how Cardenas had said it was "OK to lie to make the case...you don't lie to try to make the case."

It's pretty clear to me Reed is not going for an acquittal. No, rather, Maxwell's only thin thread of hope is that somewhere among the jurors--perhaps the Loud Shirt Guy, or Barrel O' Fun, or the Asian guy who hardly reacts to ANYTHING, just listens, intently--one of these jurors had a really bad experience with a police officer, and they'd be willing to take out their hidden inner fury on somebody like Detective Cardenas. Or maybe they could see Larry Maxwell as the product of deeply-rooted forces of social injustice, a sort of mortgage fraud Robin Hood--and they might be willing to be the "jurist revolutionary" who goes against the crowd, alone, in the name of some private form of idealism phrased--the whole while--as nothing more than "reasonable doubt."

Reed tried to shift the blame to Tynesia Snoddy, saying it was Snoddy who had the fake ID, and she went about trying to find somebody to buy the property at 1564 Hillside. It was Snoddy who fabricated and created (like you really need BOTH those words!) this fake John Foster.

At the moment Reed calls Maxwell an "innocent dupe," The Dude Who Loves Sports can hardly keep the disbelief out of his face.

"They throw out mud and hope some of the mud sticks," said Reed of the prosecution, though this description sounded MYSTERIOUSLY like his own defense strategy. At one point, Brad Johnson objected in the course of Reed's closing argument. The judge looked at the jury and said, "The law will be as the JUDGE instructs."

Reed made an extended argument about "incentives" and "commission rebates," saying there was "nothing wrong with it!" He attacked Tanya Patterson--though hardly as much as he attacked Cory Cardenas--calling her "the internet savvy real estate guru" by her own description on her own website.

Now, said Reed, Patterson was, like, "I'm a dummy, I don't know anything, I'm unsophisticated."

Reed pointed out--again and again--other property transactions that had not been charged. If there was anything wrong, wouldn't THOSE have been charged? Never mind there are more than a dozen charges already, and the jury has been here SEVEN WEEKS, and what's charged ALREADY is enough to send his client to prison for life.

As for Donald Williams, Reed said, "When I said, 'Hello, Donald' he said 'Hello.'"

Well, there you have it. Reasonable doubt. IN THE BIZARRO UNIVERSE.

Reed asserted "Donald Williams" (who was born Tyrone Tyson Williams) is still at that house at 411 Penn Ave. N., living under his "dual identity." How was Mr. Maxwell supposed to know who he is? Williams also went by the name "Pop." Pop, Pop, Pop. The soap bubbles of conjecture which Larry Reed tries to transform into the gold bricks of a solid defense are floating all over the courtroom, and our fancies are filled for a moment with mysterious men in Magnums, "dual identities" we can assume when the need serves us, and, of course, elaborate practical jokes.

The fake drivers license? It was "a joke not intended to be used." Yes, I think every buyer of a house has contemplated showing up at closing with a fake drivers license, just for giggles.

Bernard Holmes got off easy in Maxwell's closing. This guy who--the prosecution says--cranked out fake documents for money--was described as merely Maxwell's "computer doctor" and nothing else.

In "closing his closing," Reed tried to say the proof beyond ALL reasonable doubt versus the proof beyond a REASONABLE doubt is "so thin you could get a sheet of paper between them." Such a fantasy assertion requires a response from somewhere, and so I respond: the mass of that "sheet of paper" is so great it would break your foot if dropped from even a very small height. Every law student should be required to contemplate the phrase "and monkeys MIGHT fly out of my butt" and arrive at a revelation of its meaning.

This disorganized final argument by the defense took FOREVER. The clock crept toward five o'clock, then five PAST five. On my notepad, I told John Foster's wife: "I swear, it's like a FILIBUSTER!" and she nodded in agreement.

With his long closing argument, Reed succeeded in keeping the jury out of deliberations ONE MORE DAY. Prosecutor Brad Johnson will have to give his rebuttal closing in the morning. In the back of the courtroom, Marlon Pratt--part of the Donald Walthall Universal Mortgage crew, who has retained Larry Reed as his attorney--watched intensely, wearing a fine brown leather coat with, it appeared, hand stitching on the sleeve.


Don Allen Files Public Disclosure Request, No Doubt At The Bidding Of His CIA Puppet Masters

Flickr.com Photo

First, a correction to a previous post: I made fun of the notion IBNN blogger Don Allen works for the CIA or FBI, as Al McFarlane (reportedly) asserted during some kind of breakfast meeting.

Well, my superiors in military psy-ops and the NSA got back to me, and it turns out Don Allen really DOES work for the CIA. So (under orders, here) I'm supposed to say so. Why? Because if I say so, nobody will believe it.

And I think that's the whole point.

(Just to be clear, I'm only UNDER CONTRACT with the NSA. Psy-ops still owns by army green butt to the end of my enlistment, or longer if I get stop lossed)

In any case...

Don Allen--who knows his way around state public disclosure laws well enough, since he stayed awake during that particular training at Langley, it would appear--just filed a public disclosure request to try to obtain the following info:

1. The amount NRRC spent on Advertising or outreach for the years 2005-2009.

2. The names of the advertising venders with amounts spent.

3. If any, the amount of dollars given to Mr. Al McFarlane as a person; Media outlet or any collaborative efforts from 2005-2009.

4. The number of articles you have had published in Insight News w/titles.

5. The current status of the Un-wed Mothers program and the balance of the prisoner re-entry programming funds.

It's too arcane to be ironic, but here it is: even though Don Allen is a blogger, I can get this stuff on my blog FASTER...which causes Don to just send out emails with links that say, "Read all about it on Johnny Northside."

ADDENDUM: February 6, 2011. This blog post was written before I and many others in North Minneapolis discovered what a disreputable con man character Don Allen is. I would advise anybody: Do not trust Don Allen. Seek further information about Don Allen from various online sources before having any contact with him.

Larry Maxwell Mortgage Fraud Trial: Maxwell's Butt Is On The Line As Jury Hears Closing Arguments

Photo by John Hoff, Hennepin Co. Gov't Building

Yes, the Reverend Jerry McAfee took the stand after lunch.

I saw it. I believe it. I'm eating my shoe, chomp chomp.

Wearing a dark blue blazer with gilded buttons on the cuffs, tan slacks, and a burnt orange shirt with no necktie, McAfee had a Mr. Clean haircut--using the word "haircut" liberally--and the stylish five o'clock shadow popular during the era of "Miami Vice" in the 1980s. His facial expression was unkindly and hard, not the sort of soft and pastoral look one might expect from a man of the cloth.

If McAfee was given his 5th Amendment warning, I....

...wasn't there to witness it.

The Reverend--who has, in the past, disrupted a press conference by Mayor Rybak, click here--calmly and quietly answered a small number of questions from the defense, the questions focused on the role of Cynthia Lohmeier, a woman who "wore many hats" at Worldlink and was right in the middle of fraudulent transactions involving Larry Maxwell, for which Jerome Leon Kingrussell and Tyrone T. Williams have already pleaded guilty.

So Reverend McAfee said Lohmeier had, in his observation, acted in the role of a loan officer. There wasn't much more for McAfee to say beyond that. Defense turned the witness over to the prosecution, which had spoken of the possibility of half an hour of cross examination.

However, with the jury waiting to hear final arguments, Prosecutor Brad Johnson adopted to cut the cross examination off quickly, asking only two preliminary "warm up" questions (raising objections from Larry Reed, who has--by my estimation--literally objected HUNDREDS of times in this trial with a success rate of roughly ten percent) and then making an almost casual inquiry about McAfee's knowledge of some particular transactions.

Then it was abruptly over. The prosecutor let McAfee off the stand, unscathed. At that moment, Brad Johnson turned to his fellow prosecutor, the ever-dutiful Liz Johnston, and gave her A LOOK.

It's hard to interpret what that look means. It's like Johnson's "how about that?" look. I interpreted the look to mean, "One question, one answer, but plenty enough for perjury plus bearing false witness, if you want to get all Biblical about it" but it could have just as easily meant, "Nicely timed by Reed, since I really can't put the time I'd like into questioning McAfee. Maybe we'll get to him another time."

How McAfee got on the stand in the first place was rather interesting: Brad Johnson insisted that Defense attorney Reed state, on the record, the defense was done calling rebuttal witnesses. Larry Reed was willing to say plenty, and say it in various ways, but he wouldn't say THOSE WORDS, not exactly. He preferred to say things about the difficulty of his witness getting to court, and the judge not allowing the witness to testify unless the witness could arrive by 2:30 p.m., yesterday, and maybe there had been a MISUNDERSTANDING. At one point, the court reporter stood and whispered in the ear of the judge. I suspected the conversation involved what, precisely, had actually been on the record during yesterday's conversations about the witness.

It was incredibly obvious Reed was angling for some technicality he could use as grounds for appeal, but Johnson had seen that shadow in the corner and called it out in the open. Thus McAfee ended up on the stand. If McAfee was lying, then the trial ended on a dramatic and mystic final note: a man of the cloth breaking one of the Ten Commandments.

If McAfee was telling the truth, then the trial ended with nothing but an anti-climax. So Lohmeier was sometimes a loan officer? So McAfee knew nothing about a particular transaction? The jury was fighting to stay awake.

McAfee did manage to name a name on the stand: his organization, Residential Opportunities for Ordinary Families (ROOF) had been doing quite a bit of business with Worldlink, a company now known to be lousy with fraud. The full name of this organization currently turns up one Google hit, click here, an article from Christianity Today in (geez!) 1994.

Anybody who has information about ROOF--positive or negative--is free to use the comment threads.

Defense and prosecution both wrapped up their final arguments, with a brief rebuttal expected tomorrow at 9 a.m. from the prosecution. Then the jury will receive final instructions and, presumably, begin deliberations.

Reed's final arguments attempted to paint Detective Cardenas of Bloomington as an evil liar, which caused the wife of identity theft victim John Foster to write me a note expressing the desire to vomit.

Details about the final arguments to follow soon, plus a great photo of Detective Cardenas, who blew the lid off this massive web of mortgage fraud intrigue when other agencies would not investigate, would not pursue.

Larry Maxwell Mortgage Fraud Trial: Final Arguments Delayed As Reverend Jerry McAfee Expected To Take The Stand, After All

Contributed Stock Photo 

The courtroom was packed this morning in the Maxwell trial as defense witnesses and others involved in the investigation--including the spitfire wife of identity theft victim John Foster--arrived to watch what was SUPPOSED TO BE final arguments around 9 a.m.

It was Foster's wife who "went Columbo" and, quite arguably, set all the events in motion which led to to the investigation and trial.

Note: WCCO has put John Foster's name on the internet as the identity theft victim involved in the transaction at 1564 Hillside Ave. N., therefore this blog will begin using the name.

Though it was expected final arguments would be made to the jury, instead technicalities arose (surprise, surprise)--or, more accurately, technicalities were patiently fanned to flame from tiny embers--and now it appears the Rev. Jerry McAfee will be called to the stand after all, and just minutes from now.

This blogger will believe it when he sees it.

McAfee was...

...involved in real estate transactions with Maxwell and--it would appear--Maxwell's wife, Vicki Cox-Maxwell. His testimony is supposedly over a minor matter: McAfee apparently asserts Cheryl Lohmeier was a loan officer on some loans where it is alleged Maxwell was the loan officer. But by taking the stand, McAfee will be exposing himself to cross examination by prosecutor Brad Johnson, who has made it clear he perceives "indications of fraud" in some of the real estate transactions, and is prepared to question McAfee for half an hour.

Now I shall return to my bloggy post.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Larry Maxwell Mortgage Fraud Trial: Defense And Prosecution Talk About Their Feelings, And Much More!

Photo By John Hoff 

Today, Tuesday, April 21, starting about 9 a.m. a whole lot of factual rubber meets a great deal of legal road: the jury will hear final arguments in the Larry Maxwell mortgage fraud trial in the court of Judge Chu, 10th Floor, Hennepin County Government Building.

In a casual conversation with Judge Chu, during a break in proceedings, Prosecutor Brad Johnson talked about being on "diaper duty" all weekend with his new baby.

"Don't worry," Judge Chu said. "You'll have the next 18 years to get to know her."

Brad responded by relating something his wife told him: Congratulations, you've officially missed one quarter of your child's life.

Brad's fellow prosecutor, Liz Johnston, managed to sneak in a little vacation recently, but even...

...when supposedly taking a break, Johnston's dutiful nature was apparent: she attended a wedding.

Larry Maxwell himself was nowhere to be seen near the courtroom today. Maxwell's attorney, Larry Reed, was there and looking his usual GQ self: his loafers were shined so bright they appeared to be made of brown bottle glass. Sitting down to wrangle over jury instructions, Brad Johnson took off his coat and put it on the back of his chair, like you would at a poker game. Judge Chu sat down without her robe, wearing a striped shirt. Her hair is very black, very straight and long. She looks like she might weigh 95 pounds, if that much. Such a small judge for such a big case, but Chu seems up to the task.

Discussion over the instructions went long. Really long. At one point, Judge Chu said, "I hate our Spreigel instructions, the federal instructions are so much better."

Defense attorney Reed insisted--and pressed repeatedly--for an instruction stating the jury can't even DISCUSS the fact Larry Maxwell didn't (won't) testify. Johnson tried to keep such an instruction out, preferring an instruction along the lines of "no inference should be drawn from" the fact Larry Reed didn't (won't) testify.

Sitting there, I could see Johnson's point: what if one of the jurors (most likely "The Dude Who Loves Sports") is discussing some point of evidence, and in the course of this discussion he blurts out something like "while Reed was just SITTING there, listening..."

Oops. What is that? Instant mistrial, because one of the jurors almost-sort-of-kinda mentioned the fact Reed didn't open his mouth up and offer a defense?

Whether the jurors would get an instruction like that seemed to go back and forth. Ultimately, it wasn't clear to me which way the matter was resolved but, the last I heard, Chu was saying "I'm going to give that to Mr. Reed." Johnson turned to Johnston with a look like, "Can you believe what just happened?"

But Johnson kept his mouth shut. Unlike Reed, Johnson seems to know when Chu has definitely made up her (honorable) mind, and further pushing will only tick her off. Johnson managed to get in one strong point, however: why would the state instructions leave that off, if it's supposedly so FUNDAMENTAL?

Because--I thought, sitting there with my laptop, silent except for the sound of keys clicking--jurors can't avoid blurting out some half-formed forbidden thought--even for just an instant-- before the other jurors will say, well, we're not supposed to GO THERE, we're not supposed to discuss the fact Larry Reed won't take the stand and tell his side of the--

OOPS! Did it again!

One can't help but be reminded of the "stoning scene" in Monty Python's "Life of Brian," click here.

Amid this oh-so-dry tinderbox of instructions, suddenly there was an emotional spark, a quick flare up, and then the prosecutor and defense attorney were GOING AT IT, absolute FIREWORKS over whether "conspiracy" is an integral element to "racketeering," and is whether the defense was "entitled to a conspiracy instruction." Johnson said Reed was "trying to get an instruction for a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CRIME." The crux of the argument was one of those little "distinctions" lawyers care so much about, trying to parse a zebra into two different colored animals: Maxwell is charged with RACKETEERING, not CONSPIRACY.

Is conspiracy PART of racketeering? You bet. But Maxwell still isn't being charged with racketeering, so Chu said she wasn't going to give the special instruction. Reed could put his objections on the record. In the morning, after sleeping on a pillow of legal briefs, Reed might wake up and discover the "objection fairy" had left something valuable.

Or not.

Another of those fine elements to be parsed: when does "theft by swindle" occur? Legally, it occurs when the victim parts with his money. The victim doesn't need to know he or she (or "it," in the case of a bank) IS a victim to BE a victim. This distinction becomes very important in this case, because after giving loans to in some of these fraudulent transactions, Centennial Mortgage sold the loans.

Somebody else was left holding the paper which, while not exactly "bad" paper, wasn't exactly "good" paper either.

Brad Johnson didn't want Larry Reed to even be able to ARGUE a line of reasoning like "the victims aren't victims, because the loans were sold."

"Does the defense intend to argue there was no theft because somebody else purchased these loans down the road?" asked Johnson.

"Are you arguing that, Larry?" pressed Judge Chu.

Reed indicated he wanted to argue "the person who was out money was not Centennial." Is that the same thing, you might wonder? Well, it's arguable. Sitting there, I wasn't clear whether Reed intended to argue Centennial wasn't out money (because the loan was sold) or whether Reed intended to assert the facts presented by the prosecutors were wrong: Centennial was never "first in line" with this loan.

The highly complex world of mortgages meets the somewhat archaic "theft by swindle" statutes. Even the word "swindle" sounds archaic and antique.

"I never argued Centennial was put out of business for incompetence and shoddy practices," Reed said, and I thought, "DON'T think of an elephant." Reed did, however, want to argue "Centennial didn't lose a penny."

To try to understand this mess...well, I think this example I simply sat here and made up sort of works:

Suppose there is a liquor store which depends on rapid turnover of its inventory, constantly buying new inventory to push out the door in sales. Why is this the situation? Well, maybe their store space or the times they can sell liquor are severely limited. In any case, to make money they have to turn over inventory FAST. They can't even afford to wait several days for a check to clear the bank because they need that money NOW to buy more inventory.

So the liquor store takes all its checks at the end of the day and sells the checks to an intermediary at 96 percent of their face value, plenty enough to still make a good profit. The buyer of the checks agrees to assume the risk of bad or forged checks, because the buyer calculates the checks will be good 98 percent of the time.

Everybody is happy. Well, except when one day the check-buying company finds out there are A WHOLE LOT OF BAD CHECKS in that pile, all written by the same forger.

At what point did "theft by swindle" take place?

It took place when the liquor store accepted the check and parted with booze in exchange for the checks. The swindle DID NOT happen when the buyer of the checks discovered the fraud. Who was swindled? The liquor store. Which never lost a penny.

Yes, this is madness. But the alternatives are worse. Smart lawyers figured out this stuff CENTURIES ago. The swindle crime must take place "when the victim parts with his money" and not later. Otherwise you'll have five, six, nine different victims. By the time the matter gets to trial, you'll have even MORE victims as the swindle-tainted instrument gets passed along the swirling vortex of written-off losses.

Sure, Reed argues heatedly. But if Johnson charged the crime some other way--named a victim OTHER than Centennial in those particular transactions--Reed would argue and objection the OTHER way:

"What are you saying? Centennial is the victim, here, and nobody else."

In any case, Brad Johnson didn't want to have any of this "wrong victim" or "no victim" argument in the court, saying this would be a "misstatement of law." Once again, Larry Reed was allowed to put his objections "on the record," but Judge Chu said the instructions to the jury would indeed say something like "theft by swindle is completed when the victim parts with his money." 

Once again, verbal fireworks erupted between defense and prosecution, and Larry Reed--in a hurt tone--said, "I thought we were getting along, here, now every time I say something you're...you're..."

"We ARE getting along, here," Judge Chu ruled. 

"Sorry if I'm hurting your feelings," Brad Johnson told Larry Reed. 

"You're not hurting my feelings!" Reed snapped. "You CAN'T hurt my feelings." 

("I am a rock," thought the blogger, who sat and observed. "I am an eye-eye-land. And a rock feels no pain...")


"And an island...never...cries."  

Soon it was time for Reed to bring up a topic which gets the defense lawyer all excited, but nobody else shares that excitement: COMMISSION REBATES. Prosecutor Brad Johnson made a face like, "Here we go again." Reed has been determined to get something in front of the jury about how kicking back money to somebody like a loan processor is ALLOWED, there's nothing ILLEGAL about it, and (therefore) wrongdoing should not be inferred from it. But Reed was unable to get anywhere with this argument. 

"HE doesn't like it, so it doesn't come in?!" Reed asked, after this exchange, falling back on the sort of arguments made on a playground. 

Judge Chu said Reed was free to argue his point about the commission rebates, but was it going into the instructions? No, it wasn't. 

"Now we can talk about BLAKELY," Judge Chu said in a chipper tone, while the lawyers sat and smoldered...Reed smoldering so much more than Johnson, because Johnson kept WINNING and, well, you really can't lose your temper too much around Liz Johnston. She's a calming influence.

Reed wanted the Blakely forms submitted to the jury AFTER their determination (if they find Maxwell guilty, but sometimes the tone of the conference made it seem like a foregone conclusion) and the judge thought that was "appropriate." Score one for the defense: the jury will have to take its sweet time putting Maxwell away for, like, 20 years. Brad Johnson said he was "happy to split (the trial) up" and added "my argument will be all of two minutes."

Larry Reed took a break at this point, off to make calls in the hallway and find his witness, Jerry McAfee. The judge and prosecutor made small talk. Chu said recently she had high blood pressure for the first time in her life but, incredibly, right before surgery her blood pressure was down...like she was looking forward to surgery more than this trial.

At some point, Johnson told Reed and/or Chu, "You understand we may have to go through that whole Fifth Amendment drill" if McAfee is called to the stand. Reed took this in without saying much of anything. Huh. Fifth Amendment drill for the witness, Jerry McAfee. Interesting.

With Reed out of the room, Chu steered the topic--once more--to small top. Comcast. What is the deal with that awful outfit? Chu had rushed home to meet the cable guy and HE LEFT. It drove her crazy. The cable guy had come before 5 even though Judge Chu SPECIFICALLY TOLD THEM five o'clock.

"We even left off our redirect JUST so you could go home!" Brad Johnson said, incredulous at the nerve of Comcast.

Chu told Johnson she'd "gone bananas" on Comcast, yelling at the operator about how she'd just had surgery on her foot, and now she was stuck at home with no way to watch television. In response to this outburst, the telephone operator responded in a monotone--Chu imitated him, "Yes, ma'am. We're SORRY." The operator knocked twenty bucks off the cable bill. Big deal, Chu said, or words to that effect.

Reed came back in and announced Jerry McAfee could testify in the morning. Right now, the McAfees were "driving in the rain." So could they testify in the morning? So they could take their time and not have an accident in the rain?

YOU UNDERSTAND, Brad Johnson said, carefully, that "I intend to cross examine on creditability and there are indications of fraud on some of the transactions" and, furthermore, there were MULTIPLE transactions. Judge Chu spoke up and said she could bend a little, and start at 2:30.

Reed went back out in the hall. Judge Chu returned to the subject of Comcast:

"I've had the WORST problems with that company. People tell you things, and then they tell you something different. They deliver the wrong things."

Chu left the court room. Brad looked at Liz, and pondered aloud why would Reed call a witness to the stand just to say so little? Apparently, according to Reed, the point of having Jerry McAfee testify was just to say the interactions with Ms. Lohmeier at Worldlink had been different than described by Lohmeier.

For THAT McAfee was driving in the rain from Ohio? Taking the stand, risking cross examination? Just to get on the stand and say, in effect, "Not...not...NOT!"

I had been wondering about this, too, but what did I know? I figured it was a delay tactic by the defense. But it seemed like more than delay: Reed was interested in what Johnson had to say about McAfee: Fifth Amendment rights, multiple transactions, indications of fraud. When Reed came back, he announced Jerry McAfee wouldn't be taking the stand, after all, and he had no more witnesses. The defense--which had apparently played a shell game, placing 57 names on its witness ist--wasn't going to call McAfee, after all.

Johnson told Chu and Reed that a paralegal and "Liz, if she's willing--"

"Sure thing," Liz piped up, immediately.

--would be going through the voluminous documents, pulling out the ones which were actually admitted into evidence. Johnson said he'd like to send back the exhibit list to the jury, essentially as a table of contents or summary.

"I OBJECT TO THAT!" Reed said.

And, by that point, I'd heard enough for one day.

Free Public Wine Tasting At Broadway Liquor Outlet Takes Place Monthly, So Be Sure To "BLO Through!"

Photos by John Hoff

Megan Goodmundson of the JACC neighborhood literally drove me to drink, giving me a ride to a free wine tasting at Broadway Liquor Outlet, (BLO) which locals pronounce "Blow."

The wine tasting takes place monthly, with one or two beer tastings a year, as well. The events...

...are publicized via email notification, which customers can sign up for by stopping at BLO, click here for their website.

Dean Rose, the owner (pictured above, and also pictured with his wife) says BLO has spent 20 years in that location. Rose is a third-generation retailer, and his father grew up in "NoMi" before folks started calling it "NoMi."

In 2006, according to Dean, "we decided we weren't taking our store out of the hood, so we took the hood out of the store." Interior renovations were made to the floor, and the ticky-tacky "drop down ceiling" was removed to reveal the original tin ceiling, which received a copper-colored paint job. For the record, this is the most copper color I've seen on the entire North Side, combined!

Rose emphasizes how BLO is a neighborhood-oriented wine store. One of his major competitors, Rose says, is like "a grocery store for liquor" with a "different vibe."

Yeah. "Different vibe."

Rose is too kind to his fellow businesspeople. On the bright side, the world's largest YWCA is expected to totally revitalize that OTHER corner of the neighborhood with the OTHER liquor store.

According to Rose, BLO hopes to make the facade of their building nicer "when some money is available." He emphasizes that if you have some special liquor you're seeking, he can order it for you. In the picture above, Connie Nompelis (No-bell-iss) inquires about a Rosenblum Vintner's Cuvee' which is some kind of...Zamboni?

Or was it...Infidel?

No, wait, I know...ZINFINDEL!!!

Conversations With Larry Maxwell...About Mortgage Fraud

Flickr.com Photo

Some days ago, I was privileged to peak at some transcript excerpts of police interrogations from the Larry Maxwell mortgage fraud investigation. Let me emphasize that...

...these are public documents, and there was nothing under-the-table about my examination. However, getting access to a case file during a trial can be very difficult, so I'm glad I knew somebody who knew somebody who had some copies of a few key documents.

Detective Cardenas was involved in interviewing both Larry Maxwell and Tyrone T. Williams, who assumed the identity of a "Donald T. Williams." Portions of interviews with Maxwell and Williams/Williams are found in the court file.

Here is an exchange that took place between Detective Cardenas and defendant Maxwell. Cardenas is asking the questions and Maxwell--who apparently fell asleep in high school civics when the 5th Amendment was covered--is giving the answers. The conversation starts right in the middle, as follows:

Q: On how you obtained. How you lived. And I’ll just—I’ll cut right to the core. You obtained some materialistically some very nice things. But the end doesn’t justify the means.

A: (Unintelligible)

Q: You’ve heard that saying, right? Is it fair to say after we built this relationship for three hours sitting here, is it fair to say that some of these indiscretions were probably illegal?

A: Um, I think you’ve said that yeah. And I…

Q: But the question is do you say that? You’ve had the conversation…

A: Based on our conversation right here um just straight up I…

Q: Yep.

A:…I got to say that I got to take the—the ball for that.

(After defendant Maxwell had repeatedly admitted to being “reckless” and to having “screwed up,” he confessed:

Q: (Det. Cardenas) I prefer the word actually (unintelligible). That’s where—if we want to decipher this, our language, because we are speaking the same language. Can you step up right now and tell me “Cory, I’ve done some illegal things here with there (sic) properties that I shouldn’t have done. And I’m sorry that I did it. And I’m not going to do it again. Because I messed up my life and I messed up other peoples’ lives.” Can you tell me that today?

A: That’s fair. I want to say it this way though. For my part—for my part um in going over this with you (unintelligible) illegally my participation in any of these deals um for my part I am sorry about that. I am. I am—just shouldn’t have—just shouldn’t have in hindsight just should have done something else. Um, and do intend to do something else and not get—get the chance to do it. I’m not skirting it. I’m probably having a hard time speaking and talking to you because there’s so many (unintelligible) but…

Q: It’s hard to say illegal activity.

A: I said it. And I’ll say it again. For my part in any—any illegal activity.

Q: Regarding…

A: (Unintelligible)

Q: Regarding the mortgages with Tanya Patterson, (J.F)?

A: Yes (Unintelligible) illegal activity regarding um any of the people that you have spoken (unintelligible).

In a different interview, Defendant larry Maxwell’s (alleged) co-conspirator Tyrone Tyson Williams explained how Maxwell (his realtor) attended real-estate closings where Williams fraudulently purchased and financed properties in two different names, including his fictional persona of “Donald Williams.”

Q: (Det Cardenas) You see what I’m saying? As far as Larry (Maxwell) is concerned. That argument is thrown out the window. Let me ask you this. Was Larry at the closings with you?

A: Yeah. Always.

Q: When you closed as Donald Williams?

A: Always.

Q: Was he—were there when you closed as Tyrone Williams? Yes?

A: Yeah. Always.

Q: Okay. That answers the question right there.

A: (Unintelligible)

Q: You’re looking at the same man.

A: Yeah.

Indeed, it was defendant Maxwell who arranged for Williams to receive eight to ten thousand dollars back when he purchased a house through Maxwell. Here is how Williams explained it.

Q: (Det Cardenas) For you to get 10 thousand dollars as a buyer…

A: (Williams) This—this—see this—this is the deal, I mean and I ain’t seen nothing wrong with say hey you buy this house you can get 8 to 10 grand back. Cool.

Q: How—okay how so? Did he explain why?

A: No, I didn’t ask. (Unintelligle) 8 to 10 grand back. Would you like to see this house? Yeah (unintelligible) get that house. I get the house. I go and pick a house. I never really go inside the house but, you know, when---when you get the house and you look at it and say shit man I got to pay (unintelligible) for that just (unintelligible) you know and I called him. Sometime he may give me—help me pay half of it or something of the problem. But—but nah he never, you know say here thank you. Good luck or nothing. Nah he (unintelligible).

Q: And by your admission, knowing that Larry Maxwell doesn’t have any money, didn’t you find that to be a little suspicious? Because you said he bounced checks like a baseball.

A: Not suspicious. I just thought that what he—what he was doing is that’s how he made his money like people live week—check by check. He lived ah---ah house by house. That’s how he’d get his money.

Another portion of the Williams interview is as follows:

Q: You know when you sign your name that really isn’t you physically you. The HUD statements, closing documents and you are receiving money from Larry Maxwell, real estate agent, regarding these deals on properties that are being—no matter how you cut it the houses were fraudulently purchased because of—listen.

A: That’s correct. You’re right but…

Q: Okay.

A. …but—but when I sign my name—he took the business sign my name it was (unintelligible) other than to cash a check—to cash checks I didn’t know what—like I keep telling you man over and over I didn’t know if he’s going—what he was—what his intentions were going to do with it. Because no I—I don’t know about funneling the money and doing this with me. He never came to me like that.

Q: Why couldn’t he write a check to Tyrone Williams? You can cash that at your own bank.

A: You know why? Because I—because (unintelligible) if I’m (unintelligible) I really don’t wan (sic) them guys to be connected. Why would I want that? See—see how—how hard it was for you to find me?

(It should be noted Tyrone T. Williams has already pled guilty. But Larry Maxwell is "putting the state to its burden of proof" which, in this case, for some citizens of Hennepin county involves more than a month of grueling jury duty. Yet one gets the sense the raid by the mortgage fraud foxes on the North Minneapolis chicken coop has only JUST been discovered, and the actual number of sucked eggs and decapitated fowl is nowhere near being reckoned up.

Wild Turkey Spotted On U of M Campus, West Bank

Photo By Christopher Kline

Christopher Kline, a student at the U of M Humphrey Institute, this weekend spotted a wild turkey near the Wilson Library and sent a photo around on the infamous "Humprhey Listserv."

Wild turkeys are...

...only seen rarely on the campus, so anybody who spots one is quite lucky. Click here for a Minnesota Daily column I wrote on the subject of wild turkeys on the U of M campus.

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday is COMMUNITY GARDEN DAY At 2123 6th Stree North!

Photo By Kevin

The Hawthorne Neighborhood's newest community garden is moving forward. Kevin K. writes as follows:

Well, it's time to start construction of the raised beds for our community garden at 2123 6th Street. Mike Klick, Brian Kallioinen and I went shopping this past weekend and picked up all the supplies and lumber we should need. The first steps involved include: staining the wood and attaching plastic sheeting to one side for water protection.

We plan on meeting this Wednesday evening, 6:30 pm at 411 25th Ave North to begin the staining. Since we can only do one coat that evening, we would also need a body or two during the day on Thursday to do the final coat.

We don't need a huge number of people and it shouldn't take a huge amount of time, but we do need help.

We also plan on moving all the lumber for the beds to the garden site on Saturday. That's going to be a huge work day, so once again we will need a lot of help.

To contact Kevin, email kdkusche@mninter.net

(Do not click "Read More")

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Sunday's 4th Ward Meeting, Troy Parker Challenge Rejected

Photo by Don Allen

After my previous blog post about the 4th Ward DFL rejecting the post-convention challenges of Troy Parker, Don Allen of the IBNN blog kindly forwarded a photo of the proceedings. This is what Minneapolis history looked like in the 4th Ward, when Troy Parker tried...but fell way short.

My simple political analysis is this: in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and its huge impact on North Minneapolis, SOME constituents are indeed unhappy with Don Samuels and Barb Johnson.

However, by a margin of roughly 60/40, more constituents SUPPORT Don Samuels and Barb Johnson. Both Troy Parker and Kenya McKnight should accept the judgment of the DFL and just...pack it up and quit wasting their efforts, which could go into making their neighborhood better.

ADDENDUM: February 6, 2011. This blog post was written before I and many others in North Minneapolis discovered what a disreputable con man character Don Allen is. I would advise anybody: Do not trust Don Allen. Seek further information about Don Allen from various online sources before having any contact with him.

(Do not click "Read More")

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Troy Parker Challenges To 4th Ward DFL Convention Results, Er, RESOLVED

Stock Photo By John Hoff 

An email was forwarded to me which appears to be the last salvo in the marathon 4th Ward convention battle, which went 11 vote rounds but ultimately endorsed veteran city council member Barb Johnson over challenger Troy Parker. 

The email pretty much...

...speaks for itself, so I'll let it do the speaking:

(From Mike Rothman to various recipients)

Sunday, April 19, 2009 7:19 PM




After considering the written statements from the challengers, statements from the persons being challenged, statements from all persons who wished to present relevant testimony on the matters, and after a hearing for the presentation of live testimony and evidence before the full Commission on April 19, 2009, the Commission has decided to not sustain any of the challenges.

Dated: April 19, 2009

Mike Rothman
Vicki Wright

Co-chairs of the Constitution and Bylaws Commission

Final Arguments In Maxwell Mortgage Fraud Trial Will Be Tomorrow, Tuesday, 9AM, Courtroom Of Judge Chu, Hennepin County Government Building

Photo By John Hoff 

After extensive discussion about jury instructions, the prosecution and defense in the Larry Maxwell mortgage fraud case are ready to face a jury tomorrow at 9 a.m. with their closing arguments in what has been a long, grueling, emotionally-draining trial for the judge, jury, and both sides of the case.


...a conference without the jury present, there was desperate maneuvering by the defense over most aspects of the jury instructions, including "Blakely" factors which will come into play if the jury finds Maxwell guilty and then needs to deliberate about whether aggravating factors were present.

When it came to jury instructions, the defense won a few points but didn't get the vast majority of what it asked for.

More details to follow, including talk by the prosecution of indications of "possible fraud" on a number of transactions involving Jerry McAfee, a well-known figure in North Minneapolis. McAfee was ready to appear as a defense witness but was canceled at the last minute after prosecutor Brad Johnson said he wanted a Fifth Amendment instruction for McAfee and indicated there would be at least "half an hour" of questions from the prosecution.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Problem With Big Police Corruption STrib Stories In "Dead Tree Only" Format

Photo By John Hoff 

I hear people are buzzing about today's story in the STrib about a police corruption probe. I actually received an email from one guy who wanted to sit down and have a MEETING with me at Broadway Pizza JUST TO TALK ABOUT THIS BIG STORY.

Only one problem...

Where the heck am I supposed to get a copy of this bankrupt paper on its last legs? See, the newspaper rack in front of the building that I frequent on campus has FRIDAY'S paper in the rack. The one in front of Acadia Cafe--where I just concluded weekend visitation with my child a moment ago--has SATURDAY'S paper on the rack. If I walked to the little Somali-owned grocery store never Riverside Plaza, they don't sell the STrib. And the drugstore the OTHER way down the street is closed on Sunday.

I guess I'll have to wait until Housing Director Jeff Skrenes pawns off his newspaper recycling on me, or walk ALL THE WAY TO THE HARVARD MARKET EAST just to buy a freaking newspaper.

Great idea, Star Tribune. What's next, CARRIER PIGEONS?

Is it any wonder bloggers EAT YOUR LUNCH on a daily basis?

JACC Wants Its STUFF Back--Talk Of Identity Theft, A Witness To The Crime, Going To Feds, "Linden Hills Wouldn't Get Treated This Way"

JACC Chair Kip Browne, left,
contributed photo

As this blog previously reported, "New Majority" JACC Secretary and force-of-personality Anne McCandless recently renewed the call for decisive legal action to get back JACC's stolen records and office equipment. The files and computers are not just believed but apparently now KNOWN to be in the possession or at least under the control of some or all of the "Old Majority" JACC members, ousted from officer seats in a contentious and colorful January 14 board election.

However, making life more complicated is the fact some of these "Old Majority" do still retain board seats on the "New Majority" led board, such as Ben Myers, attorney at law. Also, the "Old Majority" considers itself to be the actual JACC board, with the "New Majority" mere imposters and interlopers. As if THAT wasn't complicated enough, the "Old Majority" has a lawsuit in the court system against--among MANY others--the City Attorney's Office for its role in daring to give recognition to the "New Majority" board members. So it gets kind of complicated for the City Attorney's Office to prosecute anybody while they themselves are tied up in a lawsuit, no matter how frivolous, ill-founded and wrongheaded.

Just because a buffalo is dull, wounded and extremely cross-eyed doesn't mean you can ignore the fact he's charging in your direction.

McCandless' email set off a storm of discussion, and I was lucky to receive all or at least most of the email discussion in my ever-packed inbox, which is pretty much a pipeline to my blog.

I know readers want it. I know you do. Here it is...

After McCandless' original message, Police Chief Timothy Dolan emailed Peter W. Ginder, asking if Ginder had been "consulted" about this matter. Ginder said he hadn't been consulted "on this direct issue" though he was aware of the overall issues. Jim Moore (no relation to Jerry Moore, it would appear) is handling the JACC civil suit but has been "out for two weeks." Unknown if anyone has talked to the criminal division, said Ginder.

McCandless jumped right back in, saying, "I think Michael 'Kip' Browne talked to someone in criminal. The problem is that if this went to charging, it would be the County Attorney's case, not the City Attorney. The property taken is valued in the thousands of dollars, plus the financial records contain personnel information on all past employees, including their SSN's. Considering Jerry Moore's past associations with Tynessia Snoddy and Larry Maxwell, lord knows what he could do with the info."

"The criminal investigation," McCandless wrote, "was shut down within 24 hours of the incident and hasn't even been assigned to an investigator as far as I know. This, according to Lt. Rugels (sic, should be Rugel) was on orders of the City Attorney's Office. We need this investigated."

After this there was some cc'ing, some promise of getting back. McCandless fired off another email, as follows.

"We are still waiting for an investigation into the burglary which occurred after Jerry Moore was fired as the JACC Executive Director and Ben Myers was ousted as the Vice Chair. We have a more evidence (sic) and even a witness to the crime , but still no police investigation. Judge Porter has been pretty clear in his decision that the current JACC leadership is acting responsibly. Stealing the property of our organization is not legal and should be investigated and, if appropriate, charged.

"Since the City Attorney is not the charging body on a felony (last time I checked, Burglary (sic) and theft over $1000 was a felony) I can see no conflict of interesting in perusing this investigation. (Sic, "perusing") If I am wrong and the City feels there is a conflict, perhaps Hennepin County Sherriff's detectives would help us out in this matter. Please advise ASAP. We need our property back or the perpetrators held accountable."

At this point, 4th Precinct Commander Mike Martin said, "Ann, (sic) We are still waiting for a response from the City Attorney's Office about whether we can pursue this case or need to seek help from another agency. As soon as we hear from Jim Moore we will move forward."

Ah, but McCandless has heard this all before and she's on a roll. She fires back as follows:

"It's been three months since the burglary and one month since Judge Porter's decision. I'm afraid our patience is wearing thin. I cannot help but wonder if Linden Hills Neighborhood Assn or one of the other 'better' neighborhoods wouldn't get more response from the City. We need our equipment back or the people who stole it held responsible. I know it isn't your decision, Mike, but I'm tired of making excuses to my neighbors and fellow board members."

This talk of "Linden Hills" struck a nerve with Mike Martin, who responded as follows.

"Anne, We are doing everything we can to support you, but don't want to subject ourselves and the taxpayers to further liability without advice from the City Attorney's Office.

"We have sent on-duty officers to keep the peace at your meetings, our officers took the burglary report when the property was taken, we continue to provide extra patrol to the JACC house to prevent further thefts or vandalism, and we have supported you in fighting the Temporary Restraining Order. In return, we have been sued, we have depleted resources that could be used to address crime, two of my officers now have formal complaints on their records, and our officers have been maligned in the media. Now you take a shot at all of us by implying that you could get a better response if you lived in Linden Hills.

"My officers and I work on the Northside because we love it up here and believe the residents here deserve the best service. It won't do any of us any good to proceed without some good advice. We don't want to risk making the situation worse."

Anne McCandless--who knows very well what it's like to get sued by Ben Myers, but that doesn't actually silence her--fired back as follows:

"The support from the police has been great. I just wish the City Attorney would make a decision. This is dragging on and on and in the meantime, we are handicapped by not having a decent computer, any of our files, not even a decent printer, all of which are rumored to be in Ben Myers office. It just doesn't seem like it's such a huge decision for the City Attorney to make. Either let the police do their job or turn it over to the county.

"My remark about Linden Hills was referring to the perception of some sections of the city having more political clot at City Hall, (sic, probably means "clout at City Hall") not the police."

Finally, Jim Moore from the City Attorney's office answered and, though his response was hardly to the liking of McCandless, et al, he certainly did help to resolve where the issue stands, saying as follows:

"Ms. McCandless, I am sorry that it took me a while to get back to you on this issue, but if you have been reading the papers you see that I have been quite occupied with other cases since your original message was forwarded to me, and I wanted to make sure that I fully investigated the City's options before responding to you.

"I have discussed your request for a police investigation with numerous representatives of the Minneapolis Police Department. The overwhelming consensus is that this case is not the sort of matter that the MPD would ordinarily pursue with a criminal investigation. The dispute between the members of your organization and its equipment and papers is a civil, not criminal, matter. MPD does not investigate such matters. In fact, some MPD employees with whom I spoke recalled a similar incident at a local church occurring within the past few years that the MPD did not investigate."

(JNS asks: anybody have any idea what matter is being referenced here?)

"In addition, I am not clear what you would expect from a police investigation. Even if the missing equipment and papers could be recovered by MPD, they could not be released to your group absent a court determination of ownership. In short, the pending civil case in which you and the City are co-Defendants seems to be the perfect forum to address the issue.

"I hope that you would agree that, in light of the pending lawsuit and the conern that Plaintiffs would claim retaliation, the MPD would be ill-advised to conduct a criminal investigation into this matter if it is not the sort of a case that MPD would ordinarily investigate. Since I have concluded that this is not the sort of case that would ordinarily get investigated, I cannot advise the MPD to do so in this case."

At this point, JACC Treasurer Bob Hodson weighed in, as follows:

"Anne, Thanks for initiating this conversation. I am adding these emails to my 'Due Diligence' file. You know that my primary concern in this is the matter of personal identity and financial information stored on those computers and the risk of identity theft. I am especially concerned because of the alleged history of Jerry Moore and his close associates using stolen identities (as in the Maxwell case currently going through the courts) combined with Mr. Moore's likely access to those machines.

"I find it at least a bit surprising that the city attorney's office (or the county or the state) have shown no interest in comparing stolen or false identities used in Maxwell to information on the JACC machines, but maybe they don't see much of a need or risk on that point.

"In any case, since this email exchange has taken place, when the feds come knocking on our door (identity theft being a federal crime) asking to see what we have done in an effort to retrieve and re-secure the identity info, at least we can show them these emails along with the other information we have and send the feds on to the city attorney's office to ask them why nothing was done. Let it be on their heads.

"That being said, it may now be time for us to go to the federal authorities ourselves and at least have a conversation with them about this in relation to the identity theft risk and ask how they suggest we proceed. In spite of the odd and strangely defensive response from Michael Martin, I do not believe it is the MPD holding this up at all. So it seems now that all roads lead to the city attorney's office on this one, to the detriment and frustration of both JACC and MPD.

"It al (sic) seems that the city attorney's office is choosing to do nothing. While I acknowledge that they may have their reasons for a course of inaction, I have little patience for that brand of palace intrigue. Further, I do not believe that JACC enjoys the luxury of doing nothing, especially when one considers the actors involved here. We should probably discuss our next steps at our next Exec. Cmte. meeting.

"Thanks again Anne."

Contributing the last email to the chain, "New Majority" JACC Chair Kip Browne alluded to a conversation (apparently not by email) with Commander Martin, and hoped to continue building the relationship with MPD. Browne mentioned that, after a long hiatus under the amazingly bad "Old Majority" leadership (that's my paraphrase, not Browne's) the Jordan Neighborhood was finally re-establishing its public safety committee meetings, with the first one to be held May 20, 6:30 at the JACC headquarters.

Other sources tell me the meetings were derailed for a long time, and sometimes MPD representatives would show up only to find the meeting had been cancelled. Public safety was clearly not a priority with the "Old Majority," which is one of the major reasons they are out on their collective (expletive).


No, seriously, this is a joke told by somebody in the course of a discussion at the "Broadway Pizza policy booth" with some neighborhood movers and shakers present. It's not so much a "joke" however as a humorous impersonation/parody, as follows:

MY IMITATION OF Al McFarlane (or Jerry Moore, or Ben Myers, or for that matter Kenya McKnight) calling 911 on a drug dealer standing on a corner in North Minneapolis, dealing dope in broad daylight.

"Hello?! POLICE?! Yes, I need you to send somebody to Juarez, Mexico right away! There's a CIA drug cartel and it's pumping drugs into North Minneapolis, and some of those drugs have somehow ended up at the corner of--well, never mind which corner, just send as many cops to Juarez, Mexico as you can RIGHT AWAY!"

A pause, and the police dispatcher is saying something on the other end. McFarlane nods, up and down, and then finally says, "I understand, yes, Mexico is outside your jurisdiction. I see."

Long pause.


As always, those who have opposing views, contrary information, or wish to dispute facts are just as welcome to use the comment threads as those who may be in agreement.

Jennifer The Flipper Works Her Magic Yet Again (Before And After Pics, 2755 Russell Ave. North)

Photos By Jenny The Flipper

A recent article in the Star Tribune discussed the rather worrisome "absentee owner" trend in North Minneapolis, as incredibly affordable properties are snapped up by whoever has cash and credit in this tough market. Houses that were once valued at $180,000 are now going for, like, $17,500.

However, I don't worry about "absentee" owners very much, for two reasons...

First, city officials and neighborhood councils are going after individuals like Mahmood Khan and others who have revealed themselves to be slumlords. In fact, the Hawthorne Neighborhood recently put a slumlord's bloody, severed head on a pole and then, (breaking news!) fed the rest of the corpse to somebody's Vietnamese pot-bellied pig.

You can't make up stuff like this. Well, OK, you can.

Our struggle right now is to deal with the empty houses, by seeing them sold or--in a lot of very unfortunate cases--demolished. But once "who gets the houses" is resolved, the next battle shaping up will be "utopians versus slumlords" to determine the character of our neighborhood for, one suspects, many decades. That battle is already starting.

The SECOND reason I don't worry about absentee property owners: some of these absentee owners are wonderful, neighborhood-minded folks who have found a way to profitably flip houses yet also improve our neighborhood by putting property owners into refurbished, high- quality homes.

These photos are of 2755 Russell Ave. N. To buy this house, and meet the increasingly-famous "Jenny the Flipper," contact realtor Jeannie Hoholik, who was actually the first to feature this story on her blog, click here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Don Allen Calls Out Al McFarlane, Denies Working For CIA And FBI

Image From Don Allen's
Facebook Page...or is it?

ADDENDUM, SEPTEMBER 24, 2011: This blog post was written before I learned a great deal of relevant information about Don Allen, including his involvement with a Ponzi scheme that was busted by the FBI and his record of stealing from a bedridden vet at the VA hospital. I now consider Don Allen an unsavory character but I will not remove or alter posts due to respect for an accurate historical record.

So, first of all, people who follow North Minneapolis issues intensely have (so I've heard) kind of wondered about what's the deal with Johnny Northside and Don Allen of the IBNN blog?

Though me and Don...

...have vast differences politically, we seem to get along great.

Of course, part of that is the fact Don Allen is trying to figure out a way to make money by marketing North Minneapolis, and he's all, like, "Johnny, if I can get something going, are you in?" And I'm all, like, "Dude, whatever, if there's decent money involved, I'm in."

(Decent money is not the same as a lot of money. Decent money is what you could hope to make by doing some good. A whole lot of money usually requires offshore oil drilling, deforestation, and animal cruelty, all before breakfast)

Some would say I'm living in a fantasy world, thinking I'd get PAID to BLOG.

And that's a fair critique. But consider this example. Which of the following do you think I'd prefer: riding in a cute red sports car driven by a hot girl in a miniskirt who, (apparently) has just shaved her impossibly-long legs but, at the current time, shows no romantic interest in me whatsoever...

Or walking?

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO with Don Allen, Al McFarlane, and/or the FBI and CIA?

Um...well, OK, it might be a tangent. So let me just get to the pickle-y part of the pickled pig's knuckle of information nuggets, and here it is, in the form of an email Don Allen fired off to a bunch of folks, recently:

Dear Ms. Hyde, (and BCC's)

Contrary to popular belief, it is not my mission to distribute miss-information to the community. My goal is to distribute news and information that would otherwise never get out. With the ability to outreach any north side media outlet, you would think this would be a good tool. Yes, it becomes somewhat controversial but never the less, "if you throw a rock at a pack of dogs, the one you hit will yelp."

On Friday, at Sunny Side Restaurant Mr. Al McFarlane publicly stated that he thought I worked for the FBI or CIA. This is the same thing said of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Of course this is not true, but yet another attempt to discredit me because of my political allegiances and the questions I ask are too hard to answer when it comes to the Minneapolis Urban League and alleged conflict of interests involving the Board, the process and individual financial gains versus "direct to MUL gains, bypassing a middleman."

I have multiple concerns about the operation at the Minneapolis Urban League including the obvious Conflict of Interest (COI) involving yourself, Al McFarlane and the CEO finalist from the Madison Urban League. Mr. McFarlane says, "Don is good for business," which means its easier for Mr. McFarlane to "backdoor" business and ask potential agencies to use him and ask these
agencies to have other potential collaborations go through him also.

(This happened at a National Association of Minority Contractors meeting. Those of us in the business know that one "skewed" media outlet cannot deliver all minority-ethnics, let alone the mainstream. Gross misrepresentation seems to be a norm here.)

Next week on the Independent Business News Network (www.ibnn.org) and in very public press releases, I will ask the questions about why is it that a board member who receives financial payments from the MUL for advertising is able to broadcast out of the MUL and how much does the agency receive for the use of the facility when it is apparent that Mr. McFarlane's radio show does have financial sponsors. (COI). We talk a lot these days about, "transparency," I would like full disclosure in an attempt to understand the process that makes some, activity at the MUL okay (including partisan politics).

Let me make it absolutely clear. Its okay to have a live radio show broadcast out of the MUL - but shouldn't it be about MUL programs and issues that affect the community versus promotion for Mr. McFarlane's sponsors and personal advertising agenda - I ask you to step back and see this clearly.

If someone like the MUL current outreach coordinator had the platform that McFarlane Media is using at the MUL, issues could be addressed across the Twin Cities while building capacity for the agency. (I would assist in setting up a radio show on a local radio station for the MUL to be broadcast live from the MUL. The same sponsors that MM has would jump on board due to the "dual benefits:" outreach, and community engagement with an established flagship non-profit. Ms. Hyde, how can the MUL operate by sending money, sponsors and private sector collaborations "out the door?"

It seems to me that KMOJ would be the best "fit" for a live broadcast at the MUL - but we know that's a whole other story.

Mr. McFarlane has told me that he has signed a Conflict of Interest statement, can it be produced along with the Board minutes that allow Mr. McFarlane to walk in and broadcast without any benefits to the MUL - if there are financial benefits, what are they? Contrary to what you or the MUL's been told, there is a funding stream.

In the MUL's board attempt to "close" board meetings even for members, this is an action that will be fought by the community due to the amazing amount of current corruption that has not been addressed.

COI #2: Ms. Hyde, aren't you a member of the search committee and have ties to the Madison Urban League where dollars were paid to someone you know to speak there recently? Also, is it public information on the amount you have been paid to plan the MUL annual dinner (also in 2008), furthermore questioning the integrity of your collaborations that seem to be very close with the agency?

In closing, I would ask that on Saturday, April 25 at 1pm when the MUL presents the finalist to the community for the CEO position, you have someone other than Mr. McFarlane host this event. This will stop the continued Conflict of Interests that seem to occur weekly at the agency.

After several request for information sent to David at the MUL, he has refused to answer or supply requested information. Furthermore, what does the MUL do? I would love the opportunity to sit down with someone with the facts and discuss a mutual middle ground.

If you have any questions - or answers to any of the above, please contact me
at (612) 986-0010.

Very best regards,

Donald W.R. Allen,II - V.P./GM
Email: donny@donny-allen.com
Office: (612) 332-6025
Direct: (612) 986-0010

JNS says: I confess I'm not following some of this. However, I really like the part about Don Allen being--reportedly--accused of working for the CIA and the FBI. That's just too funny! Especially since *I* am the one working for the CIA.

Well, actually the NSA and army psy-ops but I ask you...what's the difference?

Point is, if Don Allen were working for the CIA or FBI I'm pretty sure I'd have read it in my daily briefings, duh. Yes, I confess to skimming intel reports, sometimes--especially the tedious rehashing of EVERY LITTLE NUGGET printed in Insight News, right down to the ADVERTISERS, I mean GEEZ!!!!--but if Don Allen worked for the CIA, I"m sure I'd have caught mention of THAT.

ADDENDUM: February 6, 2011. This blog post was written before I and many others in North Minneapolis discovered what a disreputable con man character Don Allen is. I would advise anybody: Do not trust Don Allen. Seek further information about Don Allen from various online sources before having any contact with him.