Well, it turns out...
...there really is something to the "Howie Ripped Off The Cat Lady" rumor. A few hours ago I was visiting my girlfriend, Jordan Neighborhood "Super Citizen" Megan Goodmundson, and Joy the Cat Lady came through the alley. I chatted with her for a while (actually helping her to retrieve one of her boots that was stuck in a snowy fence, lost in a feline-assisting misadventure) and Joy gave me the dirt on Howie.
In summary (according to Joy) she and her late husband loaned Howie $450,000. Joy's husband, known as "Buzz," was a much beloved Minneapolis police officer. When Buzz died, Howie showed up at the funeral and told Joy, in so many words, he wasn't paying back the money because Buzz was dead and Joy was old and wouldn't be alive much longer, either, so what did she need with credit? Joy reported her response--there at her husband's funeral--was to call Howie a son-of-a-bitch.
Joy says Howie has ripped off a bunch of other people and these folks are gathering up their evidence, hoping to get some kind of legal action against Howie. (I strongly suspect it was one of these individuals who contacted me through the comment function of my blog and put me on this story) These folks want Joy to assist and provide her testimony.
There are more details, but that's what I managed to memorize without notes, talking to Joy in the alley. Talk did naturally turn to felines: Joy says the city is cracking down on people, even folks who feed strays. Joy says she has many kittens that need homes and folks should contact her for free kittens.
The previously mentioned blog post has contact info to help Joy with financial donations or--any time you like, just about--get yourself a cat for a pet.
Does anybody have more info about these allegations? Including any court file numbers, property addresses, names, etc?