Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Traditional Thanksgiving Bounty Of TJ Waconia Court Documents, Including Transcript Of Criminal Sentencing...

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

As I think of all the many things I have to be thankful for, somewhere in the Top 100 has to be the fact the TJ Waconia fraudsters (Thomas Balko and Jonathan Edward Helgason) are locked away in Duluth federal prison where they can't hurt my neighborhood anymore. I hope they are being treated well enough wherever they are, with worn and chipped plastic trays of turkey-like meat and something that might be potatoes but then again, it might be stuffing.

No wait. I think it's supposed to be cranberries.

It was more than a month ago when I subscribed to the federal PACER system at the urging of a local attorney, who wanted me to get my own federal court system documents instead of begging them off him all the time. When I first took a whirl around PACER-o-topia, one of the first cases I wanted to explore was the plea deal and prison sentence for Helgason and Balko...

The coolest document in the bunch has to be the transcript of their hearing, which cost a pretty penny but, hey, PayPal donations. Not that many, but enough for a document now and then. Click here for the transcript, which is fairly long. (109 pages!) 

In the transcript, City Council President Barb Johnson takes the stand and testifies about the impact of the TJ Waconia fraud on the neighborhoods in Minneapolis, particularly in light of all the foreclosures and subsequent vacant properties.

Set before readers like a potluck Thanksgiving banquet (green bean casserole, weenie hot dish) feel free to peruse this buffet table of documentary offerings, as follows.

A document with the actual signatures of the defendants agreeing the proceeding may be by information instead of indictment. So agreeable. And what did it get them? Time in the pokey.

Here is "Count 1, mortgage fraud."

Here is a revealing document about a joint motion for a continuance. There are a number of documents discussing continuance, not all of which I'm sharing because they're tedious and repetitive. But the gist seems to be the defense wanted an expert named Edward Adams to be involved but there were difficulties in making that happen quickly. Adams was supposed to present a "market adjusted analysis of the claimed loss." However, "Defendants drastically underestimated funding challenges" involved in retaining Adams.

Kind of like they drastically underestimated the funding challenges for their real estate empire. Even a monkey can make money when the market is red hot, but what happens when the market turns around and the egotistical monkey has become accustomed to high living? Looks like "Tom and Jon" didn't run their criminal defense any better than they ran their real estate empire. Somewhere at this moment they might be "drastically underestimating" the amount of time needed to clean all those toilets well enough to pass inspection.

In any case...

Here is the order of the court granting the continuance, but the court's peevement (is that a word? It is now) comes through loud and clear.

The prosecutor's memorandum regarding sentencing is a particularly interesting document; damning, articulate, highly specific yet quite lengthy. Within the metaphor of a Thanksgiving banquet, this document would be the perfect wine to compliment the meal.

This document is the "judgment in a criminal case," which lists the exact amounts of restitution owed to each party. This document contains the only comprehensive list of (known) TJ Waconia victims I have ever seen, and when I say "ever" that includes the TJ Waconia Victims Blog which may have had some heart, but was never an objective nor comprehensive attempt at coverage of this story. At the end of this blog posting I intend to publish this list of victims.

Allow me to explain why I am taking this step.

Most of the victims (perhaps not all) were also "investors." They are undoubtedly victims, but not in the sense of, for example, a rape victim. These victims were dreaming of striking it rich (or at least making some dough) and went along with a dubious real estate scheme, to their great detriment.

These names--some of which may be buried in the abysmally inadequate online property records system of the city of Minneapolis--provide a "trial of bread crumbs" to historians, journalists, and other interested researchers.

Furthermore, this blogger vetted the idea of publishing these names in a comment I posted on the "victim's blog," as follows, on October 2, 2012:

If anybody is at this dormant blog receiving this comment...

I am in possession of most of the relevant documents from federal court and I am considering posting those documents and writing about those documents. This would mean publishing the names of the known victims.

However, I have come to the conclusion that my North Minneapolis neighborhood was the ultimate victim, here.

If anybody wishes to comment on my intended publication of this information, to discuss it and persuade me one way or another, well, I am open to hearing this discussion. I hope you get this message.
I have received no response. I feel like I have done my level best and even if the answer was no I'd probably publish anyway, but I did reach out for a counter argument to be persuaded otherwise. I didn't get an answer and so...

So I will be publishing all these names.

But first, here are more documents, as follows:

For what it's worth, the final judgment was amended. Here is amended judgment. Big whoop.

This document gives notice of a related case, which involved Gayle Deann Claus, Nathan Daniel Jesh, and Stacie Marie Ott. (This blog previously reported how Jesh only got probation) 

Well, I hope everybody saved room for dessert. Here comes that list of investors.

I mean victims.

Oh, heck, I mean investors AND victims. But the real victim was my neighborhood, as Barbara Johnson made clear in her testimony. Also, the list includes three legal departments and Minneapolis regulatory services.

Behold THE LIST.

* Michael Alvin and Minden Marie Aurich
* Gary Thomas and Jennifer Marie Balster
* Chase Legal Department
* City of Minneapolis Regulatory Services
* Daniel Andrew Jesh (related to Nathan? Must be!)
* Gary Dean Koenigs
* Jason Micheal Lowrey
* Michele Jesh Lowrey (check it out, a good portion of the Jesh family tree is here)
* Patrick McNeill
* Diane Miller
* John Miller
* Richard James Miller
* Kenneth Anthony Mix
* Janet Susan and Michael Julius Moulton
* National City Legal Department
* Troy Jason Pingree
* Michael Eric Pletan
* Tamera Jo Pletan (For some reason this name comes up all the time, as somebody was commenting in one of my stories written roughly a year ago) 
* Regions Mortgage Legal Department
*Suntrust Legal Department
* Lori Ann Upperstrom
*Steve and Janet Wilhelmy (There is a very prominent realtor in Maple Grove named Steve Wilhelmy, I wonder if it's the same guy?)
* Terrence Norman Wojtowicz
* Matthew Paul Yager

Looks like TJ Waconia managed to rip off a pretty fair portion of the alphabet.

But now they're in prison and...

I'm thankful.


Anonymous said...

How can Michael Pletan be a victim when he was an appraiser? He WAS an appraiser. Is NOT anymore because, the state revoked it. His wife, Tammy is still licensed somehow. Word is, Tammy the Victim pulled off twenty four deals with TJ Waconia. How does that get her victim status when her husband loses his license?

Anonymous said...

Another name on that list of interest is Terrance Wojtowicz. He goes by Terry and he went to school with Tom and Tammy (Tamera Jo). It is interesting because, Terry happened to work for TJ Waconia AND he was (at the time and looking into currently) a licensed Realtor.

Anonymous said...

Terry's real estate license is currently inactive.