For the back story on 1564 Hillside Ave. N., which led to identity theft victims Melony Michaels and John Foster filing a lawsuit against individuals allegedly involved in the fraudulent mortgage at 1564 Hillside Ave. N., click here for PART ONE.
Nope, Not Involved With That
It was the spring of 2009, and two important trials took place. One was the criminal trial which sent Larry Maxwell to prison. That trial was "wrapping up" in early April. In mid-to-late May of that same spring, the "True JACC" trial took place as rival factions fought over who was the legitimate leadership of the neighborhood organization. (Kip Browne's "New Majority" group, as it turned out, and the game wasn't even CLOSE)
There was a link between the two trials...
That link was former JACC executive Jerry Moore, fired by JACC's "New Majority" on its first night in power. Moore swirled in the middle of the JACC controversy. And, also, he was named as a "little fish" in the Larry Maxwell criminal indictment, a fact which had not escaped the notice of Jerry's political enemies in JACC.
Most of the issues on the stand in the JACC trial concerned JACC, of course. But at one point, in an apparent attempt to "impeach the credibility" of Jerry Moore, attorney David Schooler questioned Jerry Moore about his involvement in the high profile mortgage fraud at 1564 Hillside Ave. N.
In a blog post written three years ago TO THIS VERY DAY, I captured what took place in court as Schooler questioned Moore, as follows.
Schooler asked Moore about the deal at 1564 Hillside Ave. N. Moore denied any and all involvement. He would not admit to having ever seen the invoice for $5,000 or the cashed check for $5,000. John Foster? Never heard of him. Keith Reitman, the seller in the fraudulent deal?
Oh, yes, heard of him. Reitman's on the JACC board. But that's all Moore claimed to know. Nope, not involved with any shady real estate deal like THAT. Nope.
It was my distinct impression Defense Attorney David Schooler was incensed at what appeared to be blatant, bold-faced lies by Jerry Moore. There are a number of creditable witnesses--including City Council Member Don Samuels--who will tell you Jerry Moore has plainly admitted involvement with the 1564 Hillside matter.
Moore left the stand soon after that. I dashed into the hallway to call Melony Michaels--who couldn't attend court that day--that Moore had been questioned about the house in her husband's name, the one at the center of fraud by Larry Maxwell with Moore Consulting messed up in the mix. While I tried to depress the power button on my cell phone, Jerry Moore suddenly came into the hallway in those oh-so-white pants, several days before Memorial Day. My god.
"Melony says hi," I said to Jerry.
"Melony who?" he asked. (I had, the previous day, introduced Jerry to Melony, though he didn't reach over and shake hands. Instead he'd said, "Oh, I don't know..." and I said, "Oh, I think you do, Jerry.")
So when Jerry asked "Melony who?" while quickly walking to the elevators, I answered, "Melony Michaels. John Foster's wife. You were asked about him on the stand."
"Tell her hi," Jerry answered. "Tell her it's great to be black."
"Excuse me?" I responded, because this struck me as a bizarre response. For the sake of a clear record, Melony is white.
"It's great to be a black man in Minnesota!" Moore said, jamming his finger into the elevator button.
Ah, I thought, Moore is TALKING. Time to get something juicy out of Moore, and if the white pants suffer as a result, so be it.
"Jerry, if you want to talk, I'll go get my notebook," I offered.
"Go ahead!" Moore snapped.
I ran back into court to snatch up my notebook. But when I got back, Moore had disappeared like a puff of smoke. I made my way to the second floor of the county government building, hoping to catch him in the lobby area.
Gone. Moore was gone.
Melony Michaels had attended the trial the previous day, watching Moore on the stand. In that same blog post of May 25, 2009, I captured Melony's on-the-spot assessment of Jerry Moore, who she'd known previously as little more than a name on a $5,000 invoice in a fraudulent deal.
I turned to Melony Michaels--the wife of identity theft victim John Foster, whose name was entangled with the fraudulent 1564 Hillside Ave. N. deal, with which J.L. Moore Consulting was (according to the criminal complaint) involved--and I asked for her assessment of Moore.
Melony Michaels (who reportedly has worked as a police psychic) wrote her assessment of Jerry Moore on a notecard and handed it to me.
All flash. No soul underneath. If he had bad teeth and clothes, you'd see the thug beneath the exterior, clear as day.
When "Melony and John" (as we call them in my NoMi homie social circle) filed their civil suit, Jerry Moore was named. So was slumlord Keith Reitman. A number of other individuals and business entities were named. You'd think a lawsuit like that would be a slam dunk. Somebody had gone to PRISON for stealing Foster's identity and the real John Foster's credit was ruined. Clearly, there was a lot of tort liability littering the floor of the criminal court room.
Moore Is In The Lawsuit, Oh Wait, He's Out
But after the lawsuit was filed, things got messy. Melony and John used a lawyer obtained through a prepaid legal plan. The lawyer did a terrible job, screwing up fairly basic details and not filing stuff in a timely manner. Like, if somebody was criminally convicted (stomp stomp) for doing the tortious thing mentioned in the lawsuit, you think you might mention the criminal conviction (stomp stomp) in the lawsuit, right?
At one point, decent people in the neighborhood were volunteering their free services to track down and serve Keith Reitman but the law firm insisted upon using an expensive professional. Timely "Reitman sightings" were reported over and over to Melony, but the law firm wanted Melony to deal directly with the lawyers, not call up the process server herself. So Reitman slipped away time and time again, probably without being aware or even trying.
The case was neglected so badly that Melony finally fired the lawyer before she'd even managed to find another one. Defendants began to file things to get free of the lawsuit. Jerry Moore was one of them, "dismissed without prejudice." (Meaning the lawsuit could be brought again, given the right set of circumstances)
And in the meantime, Moore was suing my blog for daring to say he'd been "involved" in the mortgage fraud at 1564 Hillside Avenue North. At one point, Melony Michaels took the stand in the defamation lawsuit as my defense witness. She wasn't allowed to say ANYTHING about trying to sue Moore in civil court. Ultimately, the jury in Moore v. Hoff returned a legally inconsistent verdict that flew in the face of the First Amendment. Yes, Hoff had written the truth. And Hoff had caused Moore to be fired, so Hoff should pay $60,000.
So much for that whole "redress of grievances" thing in the First Amendment.
We vowed to appeal, and appealed. And it was in about November of 2010 that Moore managed to get himself dropped from the civil suit which, on the plaintiff's side, was a plane flying with a dead man at the controls. Even so, Moore was only dismissed "without prejudice."
The crazy lady at the Mpls Mirror crowed in triumph about Moore being cut loose from the civil suit, and accused this blogger of engaging in "deafening silence" when it came to reporting that fact.
A Dark Cloud Over NoMi
With a $60,000 verdict against this blog and Moore dropped from the civil suit over the mortgage fraud at 1564 Hillside Ave. N., could it be the crazies and anti-revitalization bloggers were somehow turning the tide? I went to Camp Shelby, Mississippi to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan. I hadn't been at Shelby more than a few weeks when a tornado practically tore the roof off Megan Goodmundson's house and Broadway Liquor Outlet was looted.
I went to Afghanistan. I was gone most of a year. My neighborhood activism and blogging slowed to a crawl, especially when I left FOB Gardez for COP Arian, where internet access was severely limited and we lived in unbelievably primitive conditions. Sometimes all I could do was send off an encouraging word to my neighborhood comrades-in-arms, written on an MRE box cut apart to make a postcard.
Hey, at least postage was free! All you gotta do is write "FREE MAIL" where the stamp should go.
Oh, Wait, He's Back In Again
When you put your life on hold for a year to serve overseas, coming back can be overwhelming. All the little changes of a year hit at once. Everybody wants to HEAR HOW IT WAS OVER THERE and then, before you can get past your veneer of soldierly stoicism worn in front of your buddies for months on end, they want to TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED OVER HERE and then, oh my word, there are MONIES to be paid and PAPERS to be signed and, OH MY WORD, PEOPLE TAKE SHOWERS EVERY MORNING HERE, DON'T THEY? I have to work that back into the day.
For some, there is an overwhelming urge to force the river of incoming information back into drinking straw thickness, the way it was OVER THERE. But you have to psychologically adjust. You have to catch up with everybody. Some people have priority like your son, your mother, your siblings. Your lawyer.
I saw Melony Michaels was trying to contact me. I should have gotten back to her quicker. She had a lot to tell me. In retrospect, I realize I dreaded hearing what I assumed would be a year's worth of concentrated bad news. The last time I'd been in contact with her, Melony was literally using the word "depressed." The lawyer had really made a mess of things. Robert Anderson, a real estate appraiser who had allegedly completed an inflated appraisal, had not only gotten out of the lawsuit but was trying to garnish John Foster's wages for attorney fees!
What would Melony say? Myself and John have decided to slash our wrists in a bathtub of warm water, Roman senator style. We're actually at peace about it.
It was, however, nothing of the sort. They had a new lawyer, who was doing a bang-up job. In fact, Jerry Moore was back to being a defendant, along with Robert Anderson.
But how, exactly, that happened...was a messy little back story.
Which will be told in PART THREE.