Bond Granted After Three Years In Prison

This article originally appeared in the US~Observer.

On June 5, Jamie Clark was finally given another chance to prove his innocence. After nearly three years in prison, Clark was granted a bond, giving him temporary freedom to work on his DUI Manslaughter appeal. Clark has maintained his innocence for almost eight years. In a very complicated case, with twists and turns that have basically left everyone involved speechless, Judge John Kastrenakes unexpectedly approved Clark’s bond at his most recent hearing.

Kastrenakes had already ruled against a previous bond for Clark, so this news was shocking. Prior to the bond being granted, Clark’s father said, “The only punch that is sure ‘not to land’ is the one you don’t throw. So, we are still throwing as many punches as we can.”

Something Worked; This Punch Landed

Content from the US~Observer’s articles on Jamie’s case was “read in front of the judge prior to the bond being granted,” according to witnesses.

Clark now plans on assisting his defense for the upcoming appeal scheduled for the end of this summer. Although he will be released, he will be on strict monitoring, pending the outcome of his appeal.

For a complete background on Clark’s case, read this. The article has links to all previously written articles, which give an in-depth report on this case.

The US~Observer plans on producing a short documentary on Clark’s case this summer. You can follow the US~Observer on our Facebook page or check the Jamie Clark Deserves Justice Facebook page to stay informed about this case and the upcoming documentary.

Congratulations to Clark and his family. They are real-life examples of a family that has fought a long, hard battle and managed to stay positive throughout the process.

The US~Observer fully expects to help exonerate Clark. The evidence is there, and it proves his innocence.

–Joseph Snook

 

In Sex Abuse Cases, Children Don’t Mean To Lie, But They Do

This article originally appeared in the US~Observer.

We, as a society, have been made to believe that if you are arrested and your picture appears in the local paper as having done something, you must be guilty. This is simply a tactic used by the state to get convictions. Another such tactic, which has swept the country, deals with false sex-abuse charges; children are being made to invent testimony.

After an initial allegation, children are assigned advocates or investigators who promote to the child that the appropriate behavior is to give them the information they are wanting, which might not necessarily be the truth. The result is a false allegation: the child caving in to what the authoritative figure wants. The allegation quickly turns into a charge, an arrest and then prosecution.

In many of these cases, there is only one witness to the crime: the child “victim.” In a life-altering game of “he said, she said,” the state, the jury and the justice system as a whole typically rule on the side of the victim. Ruling anything other than guilt would be considered tantamount to participating in the abuse itself, right?

In one such case outlined in a video produced by the US~Observer and titled “Life, plus 25 years,” the man accused and convicted was found guilty on the testimony of the child alone. There was no other witness testimony and no admission. And there was no physical evidence; the sex-assault exam was negative.

Now, the US~Observer is seeking justice in this case: a new trial.

Take a few minutes out of your day to watch this intriguing video and weigh in with your comments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BkiYt6TWXU

While it is true that not all allegations are unsubstantiated, it is equally true that not all are substantiated. Keep this in mind the next time you hear that someone is charged with a crime, especially sex abuse.

Find the truth, seek justice and always demand accountability.

–Ron Lee

Allegedly Fraudulent Survey Creates Nightmare For Landowners

This article originally appeared in the US~Observer.

IDAHO COUNTY, Idaho — Property disputes between neighbors just outside of Grangeville, Idaho, began in 2009 and they escalated, until a lawsuit was filed by Sydney (Butch) and Dorothy Walker in late 2011. The Walkers named Bessie Harmon, Etta Harmon, Ellan Hoiland, Thain Hoiland, Elvin Hoiland and the Grangeville Highway District as defendants in their suit. However, our current US~Observer investigation is uncovering what appears to be a history of possible out-and-out fraud, as opposed to a dispute.

The Walkers were represented by attorney Dennis Charney until he filed a declaratory judgment motion, which, according to the Walkers and experts we have consulted with, basically gave away a good portion of their land. The Walkers fired Charney and demanded he withdraw his “ill-conceived” motion. Much more can be written on this issue if the need arises.

The Walkers have since hired attorney Wes Hoyt.

On June 12, the defendants in this case filed a motion for partial summary judgment “upon the grounds and for the reason that there exists no genuine issue as to any material fact.” I have never read a more frivolous motion in my more than 30 years of investigating such matters. I have found that there are four records of survey and various corner records filed, with little to no agreement on boundaries and corners. Yet there is very good evidence that possible fraud was perpetrated in a survey and corner record back in 1977. Not one surveyor is using the original corners that were in place when the Walkers purchased their land.

Idaho District Judge John R. Stegner is presiding over this case, and I will closely analyze and report on his rulings.

History

Dorothy Walker has conducted an extremely thorough investigation and study into surveying laws, the surveys on the properties in question and deeds and issues involved. She said: “Everything is wrong with the current surveys. None of them match up with our original corners and they don’t match each other.”

After studying the surveys myself and again, speaking with our experts, I completely agree with Dorothy Walker. How is that for “a genuine issue as to any material fact?”

Our investigation shows that the Walkers started purchasing their properties in 1968. They are the third family to own the land, and their property was purchased based on the original Government Land Office (GLO) corners. By law, these corners should be unchangeable; however, forces appear to have been at work for many years to alter these original corners.

According to one witness, in 1977 (nine years after the Walkers purchased their property), their neighbors hired a surveyor to divide their property. Their licensed surveyor allegedly moved original section corners or created new corners, redefined deeds, changed rights of way and changed the neighbor’s property description to fit his new corners. Without the Walker’s knowledge, this surveyor allegedly changed their corners in the process.

The US~Observer has received reports that there is no record of this survey on file at the courthouse and that the records of these new corners were not filed until 1996, 20 years after the survey problems were created. The law states they had to have been filed within 90 days.

Since 1977, this surveyor’s changes have allegedly been causing all the chaos, property disputes and lawsuits in this Grangeville area. The property disputes and chaos allegedly started when the original corners were moved, and the disputes and chaos will not stop until the original corners are restored. I should note that all of the Walkers’ deeds match the original GLO corners, not the alleged false corners that this surveyor set and other surveyors have used.

The Bombshell

The Walkers have hired a well-known and respected surveyor to validate a corner that was actually discovered by a surveyor the Walkers had previously hired. This surveyor has already placed the corner and filed on it. When I confronted the surveyor who originally discovered it, he stated, “I just didn’t have enough facts at the time and I had to get my survey done, because the attorney needed it.” When I told him that I believed fraud was involved back in 1977, he responded, “I thought that might be possible myself.”

I now have two surveyors stating that it appears that the survey that started this entire mess was fraudulent.

The Resolution

At this juncture, it would be easy for the surveyors and attorneys involved in this alleged scam to just say they made “mistakes.” All property lines can be corrected and the Walkers can be “made whole,” so to speak.

If this charade continues or if those involved start lying, they can look forward to gaining notoriety in the US~Observer. At that point, all involved can rest assured that the US~Observer won’t be going anywhere until all facts are public and until the Walkers are totally vindicated.

While I currently use the word “mistake” in an attempt to leave those involved a “backdoor out,” I strongly expect that I will be using the term fraud in the very near future if this wrong isn’t corrected. I will also be naming names and providing a wealth of information publicly that will leave absolutely no room for doubt. My strong advice to those who have made “mistakes” or who committed fraud is to take the backdoor without delay.

–Edward Snook

Editor’s note: Anyone with information on surveyor Carl Edwards or regarding this case is urged to contact Edward Snook at 541-474-7885 or by email to ed@usobserver.com.

The Gross Injustice Of Obamacare

This article originally appeared in the US~Observer.

As a writer for the US~Observer, I’m accustomed to finding injustice within government and the justice system. But one injustice among many from the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is particularly shameful.

I’m talking about the fines that people will have to pay for not signing up for having their money taken and receiving little, if anything, good in return from Obamacare. Many people who didn’t have healthcare before the implementation of Obamacare either didn’t want it or couldn’t afford it.

For those wanted healthcare but couldn’t afford it, they really can afford Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which is anything but affordable with rates for healthy individuals doubling, or even tripling. But if people didn’t sign up for it because they can’t afford it, they’ll be fined.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, which will be enforcing the mandate, fines in 2014 will be $95 per person or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater. In 2016, the fines will increase and start at $695 per person, or 2.5 percent for households making between $9,500 and $37,000 a year, then go up from there for households with greater incomes, according to Henry Blodget of Business Insider.

Imagine fining someone for something he is physically unable to do. And therein lies the most egregious injustice of Obamacare.

For those who don’t want Obamacare or any other health insurance, one can hardly blame them.

Back in 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that doctors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The study upon which the article was based found that many deaths in hospitals for patients under doctor “care” were a result of: unnecessary surgeries, infections, medication and other medical errors, and “non-error, negative effects of drugs.”

As of 2011, the statistic hadn’t changed much, with nearly 784,000 deaths in that year attributed to doctor screwups or 24.5 times more than all gun-related deaths combined. It’s a small wonder why some people choose to opt out of healthcare coverage altogether, and there is every reason to believe that things will be far worse under Obamacare.

Also, just because some opt out of health insurance, it doesn’t mean they can’t afford to pay for it. Some people choose to pay out of pocket or carry catastrophic coverage instead.

In 2009, when Obama was busy misrepresenting the alleged 46 million people who did not have healthcare coverage in the Nation, he conveniently left out the fact that approximately 17.6 million of the 46 million made enough money to be able to afford it but for various reasons simply chose not to buy it, which was and still should be the right of every American.

It is a travesty of justice to fine people for something they don’t want or can’t afford and shouldn’t have to pay for to begin with. But when you allow socialism/communism to slither into power, this is what you get.

Lorne Dey

Life After ‘Not Guilty’

This article originally appeared in the US~Observer.

THE DALLES, Ore. — Armando Garcia’s last year of high school was abruptly put on hold for what could have been his last year of freedom. Instead of the little things most teenagers stress about, like what to wear tomorrow or studying for a test, Armando was facing myriad stacked rape charges — all while not being allowed to attend his senior year of high school. Why? His ex-girlfriend accused him of rape shortly after her parents found out vivid details about their intimate relationship via Facebook.

Armando’s innocence was easy to prove — especially given the mountain of evidence in his favor. But the evident things in life do not initially matter in a courtroom. His ex-girlfriend, her parents (her father is a sheriff’s deputy) and the prosecution pursued the freedom of young Armando at all costs. All that was needed was an accusation. That’s it. There is no more innocent until proven guilty — technically. Today’s court’s put the burden of proof upon the defendant, despite what the Constitution says. The Constitution is a valid argument, but it gets you almost nowhere in a court of law today. The courts have police power, and that is all that is needed.

Fortunately for Armando, he found the right support system. He is truly one in a million, literally. Imagine for a moment that you are a minority in a small, rural Oregon community. Now, imagine you are accused of raping a Caucasian female who is two years younger than you. Her father is in law enforcement. You are charged with rape, based solely on one person’s word. Next, you are forbidden from attending school and told, “You won’t be allowed to return until your case is resolved.” Armando was pretty much told: “Go prove you are innocent. Then you can return to a normal life.”

The charges were brought against Armando after his junior year of high school and lasted throughout what would have been his senior year, continuing through what would have been his first summer as a high school graduate.

Not succumbing to the pressure that could have easily ruined his life, Armando stated that he stayed positive.”

Armando continued, “Towards the end of it all, I was tempted to take the last plea deal (numerous plea deals were offered) because I was so tired of everything. Knowing that I didn’t do it, I fought it all the way to the end.”

On Aug. 27, Armando was found not guilty. Finally, he could focus on moving past this traumatic life experience. Witnesses, Facebook messages, intense planning by his attorney and a full investigative report and article by the US~Observer worked. Armando was now officially a free man. Or was he?

His case was resolved. He was found not guilty. But was he really vindicated? No. Unfortunately, people like Armando still have a record — even after they are found innocent. Again, the burden of erasing his record was Armando’s responsibility. In essence, Armando was still a target for future abuse. His arrest and charges would have remained on his record, despite his being found innocent. Attorney James Leuenberger successfully defended Armando and subsequently filed documents to expunge Armando’s record. Finally, in October, the existence of his ever being arrested and charged with rape was finally dissolved.

Armando stated that he, “really appreciates” what the US~Observer did for him. “Not many would’ve been on the side of someone who was being accused of such charges. People tend to think because someone is charged… that they did it and sadly that’s just humanity’s view on things.”

Armando was allowed to finish his senior year of high school — one year late.

On Saturday, June 7, Armando graduated high school. He is finally moving on with life.

He has no grudges against his accuser, Kelsey Floyd, or her family. Armando stated that he thought “she was scared… The information was found out by Kelsey’s family and she could have reacted out of fear. This was her first relationship with sexual intercourse.”Obviously, her father being a deputy probably didn’t help his situation.

Armando was very forgiving and understanding, considering what he endured.

Giving advice to others who may be in a similar situation, Armando said, Try not to worry. I had a 50/50 chance of going to jail. I stayed positive. Don’t lose hope and don’t forget that you didn’t do it.”

Today, Armando plans on “working for now and hopefully starting college in the fall with future plans of majoring in psychology.”

Life after not guilty is something Armando will proudly carry on his shoulders. Fortunately for this young man, he has freedom on his side. His mentality is that of someone carrying a cup “half-full, not half-empty.”

How many others like Armando have been falsely charged with sex crimes? How many of them didn’t find the right support system? Although Armando wasn’t facing life in prison, he would have had a lifelong sentence had he been convicted. He would have been required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. In our society, that is a lifetime sentence.

If you or anyone you know have been falsely charged or convicted of a crime, contact the US~Observer immediately at editor@usobserver.com or 541-474-7885. Time is not on your side.

–Joseph Snook

 

Invasion Of The Mind Snatchers

While recently watching the sci-fi classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” I couldn’t help but notice the parallels in the movie of the goals of the aliens from another world to the goals of modern liberals/socialists/Marxists. If you remember the story, the extraterrestrials take over people’s bodies and minds in order to create a utopian society that is devoid of worry, want, love or hate. Sound familiar? Does Marxist propaganda come to mind?

And like the body snatchers in the movie, the peddlers of such utopian ideology — or the mind snatchers of today — transform perfectly normal minds of the wide awake but sleeping and replace them with stupid gullible ones. The main departure from the movie is that today’s liberal mind snatchers transform their victim’s minds by disseminating a constant stream of lies and politically correct claptrap. The methodology is different, but the end result is the same: functionally brain-dead adherents.

For people who think and follow things through to their logical conclusion, a Marxist/socialist Shangri-La can end only one way: misery for the vast majority of people with only a relative handful of elitists, as in any oligarchy, enjoying the forced fruits created by the powerless majority. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Only if you’re nuts! Yet that is the road to ruin that America is on. And the vast majority of people don’t seem to care because their dumbed-down minds have been fried by the false promises from slick-talking Marxists like Barack Obama, formerly known as Barry Soetoro, the pot-smoking neighborhood rabble-rouser.

So how has America naively accepted such a shady individual whose past is a complete fabrication and who has worked so diligently to: destroy our economy; push for a religion of adherers who want to subjugate or kill us; compromise our military by turning it into a politically correct farce for the radical atheists, homosexuals and feminists; and reduce our nuclear and conventional military arsenal to the point where we are now vulnerable to our traditional ideological enemies like communist China and Russia and even rogue nations like communist North Korea and jihadist Iran. This is certainly insanity on a national scale from people who seem to have a death wish but are too stupid to realize it!

The answer to how all this could happen lies with the fact that our Nation’s downfall has coincided perfectly with its gradual abandonment of the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible and the biblical principles upon which our laws were originally founded and have thrived under for so long. Any intelligent, thinking person could not argue with the fact that America is no longer a Christian Nation, even though there is a significant number in our population who still believe and trust in the all-but-abandoned God of the Bible. Rejection of God leads to a mind that is devoid of any semblance of wisdom and that ultimately becomes susceptible to every hairbrained notion advocated by almost anyone with a greased tongue and wearing a monkey suit and tie.

So how is the spell of the mind snatchers broken?

Since evolution-based Marxism is nothing more than a weak and implausible, humanistic alternative to the Judeo-Christian Creator-God, it is the responsibility of that Creator’s followers, those who have refused to bow to the Baal of our day, to get on their knees and ask for His intervention to change the hearts and minds of the people of America.

If this kind of political discourse seems out of place today, let me remind you that it wasn’t out of place during the time of the American Revolution, when Gen. George Washington and the Congress of the United States regularly called citizens to national days of “prayer, fasting and humiliation” to ask for God’s favor, because our leaders at that time knew that our Nation could not prevail against Britain, the greatest world power of the day, without such favor.

Today, let those of us who revere this same God do the same and then stand, like those before us, and demand accountability on all levels.

–Lorne Dey

Accuser’s ‘Brother’ Orchestrates False Sex Allegations

This article originally appeared in the US~Observer.

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Blending a family isn’t always easy. In fact, it can have disastrous effects, as Rob and Nedra McKell have found out. It has been alleged that several of Nedra’s children conspired to remove Rob from the family because they felt he was overbearing and “mean.” Their actions, along with those of several overzealous victims’ advocates, sheriff’s deputies and county attorneys, have left Rob facing multiple sexual abuse charges, and Nedra facing charges of neglect and of violation of a restraining order, among other things. Exemplifying the allegations of the children conspiring was when Nedra’s son, Brooke, said in a phone conversation to her that it (the charges) could all go away for $10 million. It’s a statement he verified later on the court record.

History

Nedra Roney McKell co-founded Nu Skin Enterprises, a multimillion-dollar corporation. Though her personal life brought many ups and downs, especially with marriages, one of the constants has been the love of family and the belief that orphaned children deserve a home, love and a future. Nedra expanded her family beyond her one natural son, Brooke, by adopting seven children from around the world. Each child had his own significant issues to overcome in life, and Nedra felt her affluence and love could afford them the chance to succeed. And, finally, Nedra found a man she could make a permanent home with for herself and her whole family, Rob McKell.

Rob McKell, being successful in his own right with McKell Construction but having grown up with meager means, had his own five grown children when he met Nedra. Soon after Rob and Nedra married, Rob adopted her children as his own and treated them as such.

Surmising about the family and why the charges have been leveled against him, Rob stated, “I grew up learning hard work and sacrifice. It’s how I was raised and how I disciplined my five children and how I approached raising these children. Because Nedra had profited from Nu Skin, her older children had been brought up in an environment of extraordinary privilege. They lived in mansions, went on exotic vacations, flew in private jets and had personal chefs. They had nannies and were home-schooled. Their mother doted on them and spoiled them. They were her world. It was no surprise that they resented my new place in their lives and in Nedra’s heart.”

It has been reported that through the years, several of Nedra’s adopted children, who had issues when they were younger, started showing signs of having serious physical and mental problems. According to witnesses, with troubles ranging from lying and violence to sexual promiscuity and abuse, two of the children found themselves in treatment programs and proctor homes because they became such a threat to the safety of the rest of the family. Family members tell of one adopted boy who was even convicted of sexually abusing a younger sibling.

Both Rob and Nedra tried everything they could to protect their children. They got them what they thought was the best help available and tried to make every decision in their best interests.

The Accuser

Summer McKell is one of Rob and Nedra’s “troubled” children. She was born in Siberia and reportedly was never touched or held as a baby. She suffers from what Nedra describes as attachment disorder.

According to Randy Hyde, a clinical and child psychologist who saw Summer on multiple occasions and administered a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) test (which is a widely used adult psychopathology and personality assessment), Summer likely has a “thought disorder” and is “blatantly paranoid.” The MMPI-2 showed that Summer is “likely to use projection as a defense mechanism” and “tends to be angry and is prone to fighting others.” The report indicates Summer scored as a typical “runaway delinquent,” and Hyde went on to state that “with similar profiles there is a probable history of antisocial behavior, such as promiscuity and deserting their family.” He went on to assess that “sexual acting out is probable.”

Throughout high school, Summer reportedly did, in fact, do that. She acted out sexually, among other things. According to reports, Summer sent nude pictures and videos of herself in the shower to various men, both young and aged via her online profile accounts that she managed with her iPod. In fact, it came to the attention of the local sheriff’s department, which reportedly contacted the McKells with the request that Summer not be allowed to be on the Internet. According to a family member, this, along with her increasing promiscuity and a drug deal Summer orchestrated when she was 18, bounced her from one school to the next, her parents trying desperately to keep her life together.

They restricted her use of online capable devices, which enraged Summer, and enrolled her in various schools or high-school equivalents whenever her behavior warranted.

When they were faced with Summer being 18 and a legal adult, they approached Summer about the McKells being her conservator. It was a stipulation of her staying in their home. The McKells wanted to be able to make legal, medical and other necessary decisions for Summer’s well-being. Summer agreed. Having her own attorney, Summer described how she wanted to stay in the McKell residence and that she was happy being there.

In an affidavit obtained, Sherrie Cozzens, a paralegal who was in court with Summer for her conservatorship hearing, had this to say: “I asked Summer if she understood why she was at court that day, I asked if she understood what a conservatorship was. She answered that she did. Her only concern that morning was that she didn’t ever want to leave her home. She said that two (2) other siblings had moved out and she didn’t want to move out like they did.”

In Cozzens’ affidavit, Summer’s attorney, Marie Bramwell, stated Summer had no concerns about the conservatorship.

Interestingly enough, Summer’s statements came during the time she eventually claimed Rob was sexually assaulting her.

The Conspiracy

Nedra’s children were constantly at odds with Rob’s parenting style. They either didn’t like or couldn’t understand being held accountable for their actions. It has been reported that Brooke was furious to have to get a job. Summer was constantly upset that her online privileges were being revoked and her behavior monitored. Cheyenne, Summer’s older sister, who was initially put into a facility for her purported violent outbursts toward her mother, blamed Rob for being sent away.

All of these children would rather see Rob gone, and they have gone on the record admitting it.

Interestingly, not on the court record, but can reportedly be verified through Brooke’s phone and credit card records is the allegation that Brooke left one weekend for a trip he told his parents was to Las Vegas. Instead, he traveled to Los Angeles, where he met with an ex-stepbrother and reportedly conversed with his ex-stepfather — both of whom, according to Nedra, are people who hold a grudge against her. This is where the McKells believe the plot was hatched to bring ruination to their family.

Soon thereafter, Brooke, Cheyenne and Brooke’s girlfriend, Alex, planned a trip leaving on March 22, 2013. They asked if Summer could go. According to Rob and Nedra, they not only agreed to let Summer go, they thought it was a wonderful idea and gave Brooke $400 toward gas and hotels.

It was a trip that never happened.

Instead, as the initial statements claim, the girls were waiting outside the family home in the car for Brooke, who went in to get some jewelry he was going to sell, so they had money for the trip. Really? According to the girls, this is when they started talking about how much they disliked Rob and how they wanted their mother to leave him. And this is when Cheyenne claims Summer said, “I know something that would get him in trouble.”

As reported, Summer went on in limited, but graphic, detail about how Rob allegedly did things to her. She even claimed that just the night before he had drugged her with some cold medicine and she awoke to find him, as she put it, “eating my —–.”

The statements claim that Brooke was called out of the house and told what happened, and they decided to go to the sheriff’s department to make their accusations.

But Rob and Nedra truly believe that this was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated plot by Brooke to have Rob removed from the home so the kids could have full access to Nedra’s money.

Rob and Nedra also believe that the claims Summer is making are a result of her complicity in her other brother’s sexual abuse of a younger sibling, wherein Summer reportedly held the door closed while her brother molested the younger sister in a strikingly similar manner to the claims Summer has leveled at Rob. It is alleged that Summer is using projection as a defense mechanism, just as Hyde determined in his psychological profile. In fact, Hyde’s profile also states that, “It is probable she is exaggerating her symptoms,” and says that, “given all that she alleges to have gone through … it is interesting that Summer is experiencing, at best mild anxiety and depression…”

The Charges

In any good investigation, you want to collect as much evidence as you can. With a supposed victim saying she was sodomized the night before, you would think the deputies at the Utah County Sheriff’s Office would have thought to send Summer to the hospital to have DNA evidence collected. It is common practice when someone is claiming rape, which in essence is what Summer did. Yet we have found no record of any evidence of this kind having been collected. Why?

Instead, investigators had Summer place a call to Rob and vaguely talk to him about one of Summer’s sibling’s room where some of the activity allegedly took place. It’s called a pretext call and the transcript of this one presented no clear admission, or even suggestion that anything other than a disagreement had taken place between Summer and Rob. But for the sheriff’s office, the call, along with Summer’s statements, were apparently enough. It was handed over to the county attorney, who made the final decision to prosecute.

Rob McKell is currently charged with two counts of object rape and one count of forcible sodomy — of which there is no physical evidence and no corroborating testimony, just innuendo and accusations from a troubled young woman.

The State Versus The McKells

As the story goes, Summer bounced around for a time after the allegations were made. Brooke had taken her, and Nedra took her back; but she couldn’t keep her in the family home as there was a protective order against Rob and Nedra didn’t believe the allegations at all. So Summer resided with multiple people. One was Robbie McKell, Rob’s son.

Summer had a room to herself and all the amenities. It is here that Victim’s Advocates Maria Blanchard and Brianne Wilkes befriended Summer and reportedly tell her that she is being emotionally abused. According to records, they tell her she has nothing and that the ones who care about her are in their office. They ridicule Nedra to Summer. Eventually, they are able to use their self-described leverage over “AGs” and “big wigs” — you know, people who know them by their first name — to bring charges against Nedra, whose only “crime” is not believing her daughter’s accusations.

Nedra McKell is charged with retaliation against a witness, intentional abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult and violation of a protective order.

During Rob’s preliminary hearing, the witnesses’ testimony changed. Sheriff’s Deputy Whitnie Tate admitted to leading Summer during her interview (putting words in her mouth), and Summer had to be reminded when to claim Rob had become “touchy.”

Frankly, it was a joke.

It is amazing that these charges haven’t been dismissed already. It all boils down to what one person says another person has done. You either believe a psychologically evaluated “runaway delinquent” who is allegedly a recorded liar or a man who has never before been accused of any of these behaviors, a man whose five grown children and all of their friends are staunch supporters of his.

And as for Nedra’s charges, the amount of affidavits that show how many camping trips, outings, gifts, dinners, etc., that Summer went on and received when she was supposedly being isolated makes an average person’s life seem dull — not at all the confined poor lass she and Adult Services would have the court believe.

Unfortunately, short of Utah County Attorney Jeff R. Buhman getting involved and personally looking into this case and dismissing it on its ridiculous merits, both Rob and Nedra await their trials. Unfortunately, Buhman didn’t return our multiple calls to his office.

Also, if this case does go to court, you can bet that most of the real evidence that support Rob and Nedra won’t be allowed due to overprotective rape shield laws.

But then again, there is one option if Buhman doesn’t do what’s right and dismiss the case, maybe they can take Brooke up on his $10 million offer and have it all go away… Yeah, right.

–Ron Lee

US~Observer note: Our initial investigation into this case shows that without question this is the perfect example of an attempted false prosecution. While Julia Thomas is the Utah County Assistant Attorney conducting this travesty of justice, County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Buhman is ultimately responsible. Rest assured the US~Observer fully intends to hold him accountable publicly. For those who are concerned with justice as opposed to a manufactured and vindictive prosecution, Buhman’s phone number is 801-851-8026.

Tax-Advice Cons And A Deceitful DA

This article was originally published by the US~Observer.

Waukesha County, Wis. — District attorneys and government taxing authorities throughout the country are repeatedly coming down hard on individuals and entities they view as lawbreakers attempting to sidestep their taxation responsibilities. In most cases they are attempting to make an example out of them as a deterrent for others.

Often, these individuals are anything but lawbreakers; they are merely patriotic people who have allowed themselves to become conned by a growing list of individuals and organizations spewing propaganda that the U.S. taxation system is unConstitutional and that, even according to Internal Revenue tax code, the average citizen is not subject to the income tax.

Much of what these individuals and organizations offer in the way of evidence can be very convincing. They use actual documentation and manuals produced directly by the Internal Revenue Service and many State departments of revenue in conjunction with the law itself, and they apply certain implications that would make even some of the best legal scholars think twice. Many of these patriots are suckered into spending thousands of dollars with these tax-advice cons in efforts to supposedly learn the methods to hold their government responsible for unlawfully siphoning money from their pockets.

One such patriot is Michael Gengler from Wisconsin. Gengler and his brother learned of a local “tax group” through a work associate and they began attending some meetings. This group chartered itself with educating people of the overreaches of the government and attempting to help individuals they viewed as victims of the government. They then attempted to get them in contact with local or national entities that could allegedly help these patriots.

Many of the members, with the help of these organizations, often boasted of victory, holding up checks from the IRS where money reportedly taken as a tax collection was being returned to them. Many national organized groups like We the People were bringing their arguments to Congress and other government entities where their questions and evidence were met with silence. One filmmaker, Aaron Russo, created documentaries where he interviewed the IRS commissioner and several politicians who all refused to answer for the claims against them. The evidence seemed so overwhelming, how could someone like Gengler not fall victim?

Gengler, like many of the other attendees, quickly became infatuated with ideas that a government that is supposed to be doing the work of the people was actually taking advantage of the people. Just like countless people before him, Gengler was drawn into the con, making him feel he was becoming part of something bigger than himself, a sociopolitical movement that could not only attempt to hold government responsible to the people again but also help those viewed to have become the victims of the government.

After several years of becoming very active in the movement and spending thousands of dollars with the tax-advice cons to educate himself and others in an attempt to find the silver bullet that would unravel the lies believed to be hidden in a web of government cover-up, Gengler found himself in trouble with the State of Wisconsin. Under the direction of Vern Barnes from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (WDOR), Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel in January 2012, criminally charged Gengler with multiple felony counts of tax fraud.

Gengler spent several months communicating his beliefs and positions to the DA, attempting to learn why his office felt what he had done was criminal. The only response Gengler ever received was that he was considered a taxpayer and, therefore, needs to pay his taxes.

Unsatisfied with the response from Schimel and further convinced he was being wrongfully charged with a crime, Gengler contacted the US~Observer. However, instead of finding another advocacy that would further instill the web of deceptions Gengler had been consuming for years, he met Edward Snook, who began painting a picture quite contradictory to his beliefs.

After countless hours of phone conversations, Snook was able to factually explain the issues and convince Gengler that he had been deceived by providing him example after example of others like him who had chosen to stick with their misguided beliefs, only to have suffered the consequences of the legal system.

In November 2012, Snook sent Schimel a letter explaining to him that Gengler’s actions had all been in good faith and was only acting upon beliefs he formed, listening to those who deceived him. The letter also reinforced the fact that he was able to convince Gengler of his false beliefs and that Gengler would be making efforts to correct things. Snook urged Schimel to also do the right thing and meet Gengler halfway, where both parties could walk away whole.

On Dec. 20, 2013, Schimel responded to Snook, indicating that he was skeptical of Gengler’s turnaround since “he made those arguments repeatedly and vehemently” that he felt he was not subject to the income tax. Schimel’s letter went on to say, “No member of my team has any desire to ruin Mr. Gengler. If Mr. Gengler wishes to demonstrate that he has had a change of heart relative to his legal obligations, the ball is in his court.”

Consistent with how Gengler has always viewed himself as a responsible citizen trying to keep the government honest, Gengler — now realizing he was incorrect and the ball was certainly in his court — immediately filed all of his tax returns and started making past and present tax payments. Over the next six months, Gengler spent more than $15,000 in legal fees and payments to the IRS and State of Wisconsin showing that actions do speak louder than words.

DA Deceives Gengler And US~Observer

As this case was being resolved, Schimel’s office “did a 360” and forced Gengler to plead guilty to a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. In doing so, Schimel totally deceived the US~Observer and Gengler, who said: “I thank God for Mr. Snook’s help as I would have been stuck in the tax arguments for probably the rest of my life and there is no question that I would have been sent directly to prison. Mr. Snook stopped this, but I’m really disappointed in the DA for basically lying to us.”

Gengler related that Snook is still preparing an effort to attack his case politically and hold Schimel accountable.

I would pose the following questions to Schimel. Why did you deceive Gengler and the US~Observer, and why in the world would you abuse a victim of deceit and false information and not go after the real perpetrators: the tax-advice cons?

In the end, Snook will get his pound of flesh and Schimel will be sorry that he deceived the wrong people.

–Kelly Stone

Editor’s Note: DA Schimel is currently running for Wisconsin’s Attorney General. If he is deceptive now as the District Attorney, one would have to wonder how he would act as AG. Perhaps the fine people of Wisconsin shouldn’t take the risk in finding out.

After 43 Years In Prison, Reno Francis Is Free

Oklahoma — It was 1970. President Richard Nixon sent combat troops into Cambodia to destroy the North Vietnamese headquarters; Super Bowl IV was played; the first Earth Day and the first New York Marathon were held; Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both died; Ziplock bags were invented; violence erupted on the Kent State University campus, resulting in the death of four students; and former Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry was in the first grade. It was also the year a young Native American man named Reno Francis was sent to prison for life for a crime he did not commit.

Holdenville, a small town in eastern Oklahoma, was the scene of the tragic murder of 13-year-old Cathy Scott. Cathy and Francis, then 23, attended the same party on a hot August evening. Later, Francis left the party and was walking in a local parking lot, where he had gone to find a pay phone. He was arrested under suspicion of being “high on an unknown substance.” Two days later, Cathy’s family finally reported her missing. In a very short time, her body was discovered in a storage shed near the site of the party. Francis, who was already in jail, was charged with the crime.

He originally pleaded innocent. He was cooperative, even agreeing to be in a police lineup. He was not guilty and had nothing to hide. The lineup turned out to consist of one person: Francis. The assistant district attorney who handled his case threatened him with the death penalty, which in 1970 Oklahoma meant the electric chair. He harassed and frightened Francis until, fearful of losing his life, he finally changed his plea. His court-appointed attorney told him to waive his right to a trial, his right to appeal and his right to remain in the county jail for 10 days. For reasons Francis still doesn’t understand, his family was not allowed inside the county jail or court to visit or watch his hearing. Francis faced the judge alone, as his attorney was no comfort or help. Seventeen days after his arrest, he arrived at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester, a convicted murderer.

Francis knew nothing about who actually committed the murder. And years later, he still has no idea who was responsible for the crime that ended Cathy’s life and his by sending him to prison. He doesn’t even like to speculate on the question, as he is not willing to take a chance on incriminating another innocent person. He knows all too well how that feels.

After spending 14 years in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester, he was sent to a medium security prison at Lexington. While there, he exhibited trustworthy and responsible behavior, which resulted in his transfer to a minimum security prison at Taft. He stayed there until a new law made it illegal for any prisoner with a life sentence to be housed at a minimum security unit. Because of that, in 1996, he was sent back to Lexington to another medium security facility, where he remained.

Spending more than four decades in prison, Francis had completed every program available to him. He participated several times in the Speak Out Program, which is designed to help keep young people out of prison. He ran more than 20 times in the Prisoners Run Against Child Abuse, even winning a trophy one year for running 44 miles. As a spiritual leader, he used his ability to encourage young inmates to change their lives for the better. He was liked and respected by the staff and inmates alike and was a peacemaker on the prison yard.

Francis is a very positive person with a strong faith in God. He loves to laugh and joke. He believes in being thankful every day and making the most of it. His wife, Verna Wood, supported him completely and missed only three Saturday visits over the years. While locked up, Francis was a wonderful father figure for her then-young son, Dusty. Upon watching the two together, one would never suspect that they are not biologically father and son. Many visitors to the prison at Lexington commented on the gentleness and loving care Francis gave to Dusty and what a pleasure it was to watch them together. In the winter they played board games, and in the summer they could be seen on the visiting yard practicing Dusty’s fastball with a “baseball” fashioned of trash and rubber bands.

In March, Francis celebrated his 67th birthday behind bars. He was no longer the young 23-year-old man who was railroaded through the system and sentenced to life for something he didn’t do. He is an active, intelligent man who has a lot to offer to the world. He harbors no bitterness or resentment toward those who unjustly sent him to prison — most of whom have since passed away.

He only wanted a chance to walk out of prison and be with his family. He wanted to be with his son Dusty and his wife Verna. He wanted to enjoy his other children and grandchild. He wanted to be able to look across the countryside without seeing it through barbed wire and to be treated with the respect he deserves. He wanted to know the joy of breathing the air around him as a free man. That’s all he wanted: to be Reno Francis, husband, father, grandfather, free man.

Investigation

During our investigation, we discovered the lack of evidence to support the State’s claim other than Francis’ extorted plea. There was no evidence, no witnesses, no DNA… nothing. According to records, “Mr. Turner (Reno’s prosecutor) was fired from his position as assistant district attorney shortly after Reno’s conviction for using underhanded tactics and threatening defendants who refused to plead guilty.” The lack of evidence and tactics used to convict Reno should make any justice driven person cringe.

The US~Observer championed Francis’ freedom and supplied many letters and supporting information to legal authorities. We published numerous articles, which also greatly influenced his release. Francis’ attorney, Debra Hampton, did a tremendous job for Francis in her relentless pursuit to help him obtain his freedom. Also, without a doubt, his loving wife Verna dedicated many years of her life to help free Francis.

Finally Free!

On April 30, Francis finally walked out of prison as a free man. Legal experts agree, “This is an extremely rare case. Reno should have spent his dying years behind bars. He was convicted and sentenced to life, without parole.”

Congratulations, Francis. You are finally free, and this moment will never be forgotten.

The US~Observer will be featuring Francis in our next publication.

–US~Observer staff

Colorado’s Fraudulent Fleecing of Landowners

This is the third installment of a three-part investigative report from US~Observer. For part one, read Colorado’s ‘Legalized’ Theft. For part two, read The Conspiracy Grows. For more background, read Conservation Easements: The Rape And Pillage of Landowners.

Ironically, when Governor John Hickenlooper’s 2002 conservation easements (CEs) underwent an Internal Revenue Service review, it resulted in Hickenlooper paying the IRS $52,000 in a settlement agreement in 2010 (in the midst of his gubernatorial campaign). Nowhere does it appear that the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) questioned the IRS’s determination or sought repayment of Hickenlooper’s State tax credits, reportedly in the range of six figures.

In an effort to reach an equitable resolution of the dilemma for the farmers and ranchers, as well as the CDOR, State Representative Wesley McKinley offered a very reasonable bill in 2010. HB1208 simply stated the CDOR must produce prima facie evidence of fraud within one year, else the conservation easements be accepted. It was defeated by intense lobbying from the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, an alleged front for the brokers and water lobby (special interests).

Instead, HB-1300 was enacted in 2011, after being drafted by the CDOR and the Attorney General’s Office, resulting in 674 Colorado State District Court cases. Since then, rather than allow the land owners and their appraisers an opportunity to put their appraisals on trial, it turned into a stimulus package for Denver attorneys and became too costly for the landowners to actually get before court judges.

County commissioners from the affected counties (Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers and Rio Grande) presented resolutions to Hickenlooper requesting a moratorium on new CEs, until the train wreck was resolved, particularly considering the State budget could not afford ongoing $30 million per year allocations to “discretionary CEs,” while schools were being closed. Hickenlooper arrogantly ignored the commissioners’ pleas, as he continued to blatantly violate his oath of office.

The State’s Extortion And Despotism… And More Problems

Below is an excerpt of a letter from State Attorney General John Suthers’ office, sent to landowners throughout the State upon their filing for their respective court cases:

In determining whether the partial or complete waiver of interest and penalties is appropriate, Revenue will consider both the facts of the underlying CE transaction and the taxpayer’s good faith efforts to settle. This includes a consideration of the taxpayer’s specific conduct with respect to the transaction, level of due diligence, knowledge and level of involvement with structuring the donation and credit claim, and cooperation in providing information requested by Revenue.

The State is clearly using extortion/coercion against these landowners, and it should be emphasized that Hickenlooper was spared this treatment over his own CEs that he established in Bailey, Colo. Reportedly, the 2011 legislation was cleverly devised by CDOR Director Barbara Brohl and Suthers, and it offered two options:

  1. Court action: Spend a fortune in court on certain futile attempts to prevail in four trials mandated by HB1300 legislation: threshold hearing, validity hearing, value hearing and liability hearing.
  2. Settlement: Landowners soon realized the financial impossibility of trying to compete with the unlimited resources of the CDOR and attorney general’s office and the unbridled leverage of “extortion,” especially within the court system of Colorado. But even trying to “settle” with unreasonable agents of the CDOR and attorney general’s office has been agonizing for ranchers and farmers. The attorney general’s office has continued to maintain that if the land owner is willing to concede that his land has no value, the CDOR and attorney general’s office will accept the landowners’ repayment of 80 percent to 90 percent of the original tax credits and the multiple years of penalty and interest will be waived — that is, if the land owner demonstrated “good conduct.” This strong-arm-bullying tactic is analogous to persecuting blacks for disorderly conduct for daring to sit on the bus (rather than stand) during the civil rights era.

What does a person’s “conduct” or “level of due diligence” have to do with the validity or value of a CE? For those of you who aren’t familiar with legalized crime, the State is telling hapless landowners: “If you just accept the gross injustice without complaining, you’ll be spared a decade of interest and penalties.” The State’s extortion attempts quickly positions the landowner, who acted in complete good faith and strictly followed the law, to make a desperate financial decision to abandon pursuing justice on the core merits and principles.

graphic

Landowners now agonize between two bad options, either go broke attempting to pay outrageous attorney fees or go broke by extortion. A devastated landowner described it like this, “It’s like choosing whether you would like CDOR to amputate your feet or both legs.”

The State and its accomplices are violating these landowners on the presumption that the public-at-large will never hear their story. The US~Observer is giving these victimized farmers and ranchers a voice, so everyone will know exactly what kind of criminally minded people are currently running the State of Colorado.

None of the real culprits have owned up to any responsibility; instead, they have left the landowners to endure the entire burden of the mess they created.

The landowners of Colorado deserve justice, because their property does in fact have value, as those seeking to take it know very well.

What is needed is for the Colorado voters to help these landowners by expressing their outrage to Hickenlooper and State legislators, who could have put an immediate stop to this outrageous assault at any time. Call the Governor at 303-866-2471 and let him know that you won’t stand for the State of Colorado’s illegal, unethical and unConstitutional destruction of Colorado’s ranchers and farmers. In this writer’s highly qualified opinion, Hickenlooper is totally negligent and complicit in the abuses contained in this article and, therefore, he is guilty of taking part in this outrageous criminal conspiracy.

Further, Coloradoans who possess a conscience or any level of honesty and ethics need to make sure Hickenlooper and his cohorts are voted out of office in the upcoming election.

If the property owners aren’t vindicated, the next piece of property they come after might just be yours.

Anyone who has information on corruption or wrongdoing by any of the people named in this article is urged to contact Edward Snook at 541-474-7885 or by email to ed@usobserver.com. It doesn’t matter how old the information is. Be responsible and call.

Land Owners United (LOU) is an active organization (of landowners and tax credit buyers), which has tenaciously sought, and continues to seek, remedy for all who were adversely affected by the injustice of the Colorado government agencies, as described above. If you would like to join the cause to pursue justice publicly and in the Federal courts, please contact this exemplary group of individuals. Donations are being accepted at the following address:

LAND OWNERS UNITED
15465 County Lane One
Olney Springs, CO 81062
landownersunited@gmail.com

–Ron Lee and Lorne Dey

 

The Conspiracy Grows

This is the second installment of a three-part investigative report from US~Observer. For part one, read Colorado’s ‘Legalized’ Theft. For more background, read Conservation Easements: The Rape And Pillage of Landowners.

At the onset (2003) of the impending controversy, now spanning a decade, J.D. Wright (land owner/CE donor of Olney Springs, Colo.), was told by a tax credit broker that his conservation easement (CE) tax credits were unsellable. Wright then called State Representative Spradley, only to be informed that all questions should be directed to Larry Kueter. When Wright inquired of Kueter to find out who in State government he could contact for resolution, Kueter reportedly replied, “No one. We designed it (the legislation) to avoid a bunch of bureaucrats looking over our shoulders.”

According to an appraiser who attended a public meeting in Golden, Colo., Kueter (the influential lawyer and chief architect who developed the Colorado conservation program), told the attendees:   “…the program was never designed for the ‘hicks’ who farmed and ranched to the south, it was designed to benefit rich Coloradans like ‘John Elway’ who didn’t have enough deductions to give them tax breaks.”

Something had to be done to get these “hick” farmers and ranchers shut out of the CE program! So the reportedly devious broker buddies devised a plan: scream fraud and attack appraisers! Thus, in 2004, “anonymous” calls were made to The Denver Post claiming fraudulent appraisals of conservation easement properties. Newspaper articles suddenly stirred upper echelons of the State agencies (Erin Toll, director of Real Estate and Roxanne Huber, director of Revenue). The ruse worked!

Suddenly the State agencies were on a mission, although clueless how to handle the allegations of fraud and/or overvalued appraisals. In light of the recession, and the State’s empty coffers, here was an opportunity to jump on the band wagon with allegations of fraud, in an attempt to solve the State’s budget shortfalls.

To coincide with their destructive strategy, in 2003, the “tax credit brokers” reportedly developed a union with well-known appraiser, Mark Weston, who in turn enlisted appraisers, Peter Sartucci, Tim Walter,and Kevin McCarty, for the alleged, explicit purpose to invalidate appraisals and to allegedly slander appraisers John Stroh and Bill Millenski (among other appraisers outside of their group). In fact, a public records request revealed an email, dated July 29, 2004, from Janish Wishman, attorney for Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), where Tim Walter responded, “I doubt we can overcome the Caldwell and Brown and Stroh water value report but will try”. This followed a reported Wishman and Stroh confrontation a few days earlier over the value of Lower Arkansas Valley Water. Also at this time, Larry Kueter’s son was the lead attorney for the investment group High Plains A&M LLC, which was involved in speculating on irrigation water shares for resale to front range users. The honest appraised value of a share of Arkansas River water made speculation difficult.

In another instance, Mike Strugar reportedly called a State certified appraiser and complained his appraisals were too high. When the appraiser didn’t buckle, Strugar reportedly blew up. Strugar allegedly went on to threaten the appraiser with, “I’m going to discredit every appraisal you’ve ever done and I’m going on the offensive right now,” and he did.

Subpoenas were issued, newspaper articles written, and a State grand jury was empaneled. It is important to note that no indictments in the past 11 years were ever handed down against any appraiser or landowner. Colorado Department of Real Estate (CDRE) Director Toll eventually resigned under pressure, for making false statements concerning a departmental investigation of “state- licensed” appraisers. According to a “Comment” on Fox 31 KDVR’s site, “Toll is singularly responsible for ruining the lives of countless INNOCENT people, slandering their names and many who, in several cases, never had a complaint filed against them”.

The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) also had a problem. This State agency had no legal authority to examine the appraisals until passage of HB-1244 in 2005. Since the Colorado statutes identified the IRS treasury regulations — IRS 170 (h) — as the only standards, CDOR then asked the IRS to intervene and to review more than 800 CE donations (appraisals). Simultaneously, the CDOR arbitrarily and without any justification sent “Disallowance Notices” to more than 800 land owners, claiming their conservation easements had $0 VALUE.

How can 800 appraisals, completed by a variety of state-certified appraisers, all be wrong? And, how can any land, anywhere, have “$0” value?

State Representative Wes McKinley asked Philip Horwitz and Mark Couch, the spokesmen for CDOR in 2010,”Why are you (CDOR) refusing to accept second appraisals, that have verified the values of the original appraisal and some have even come in with higher values than the original appraisal? — There are some cases, where landowners are on their fourth and fifth appraisals, yet you (CDOR) still refuse to accept them?”

CDOR agents Horowitz and Couch reportedly replied,”We don’t care if a landowner brings us 100 appraisals, if we don’t like them (values), we won’t accept them.”

An exasperated McKinley popped up from his chair, threw off his cowboy hat and exclaimed,”You mean to tell me if I have 100 doctors make the same diagnosis, you wouldn’t believe it?”

Some time later, in a legislative hearing, Couch and Horowitz were questioned about the comment. Reportedly, they both lied and denied it was ever said. However three witnesses — Wes McKinley, and two of his constituents (affected CE landowners) David Emick and Jillane Hixson — did indeed, hear the remark.

Clearly Horowitz and Couch were pushing an agenda; however the following Colorado statue denies Director of Revenue Barbara Brohl (formerly Roxanne Huber) the authority to send those dis-allowance notices without valid proof of her opinion.

Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) § 39-22-103(1) defines the term “assessment” for the purpose of Colorado income taxes in Article 22. An assessment is either “… the filing of the return as to the tax, penalty, and interest shown to be due thereon …” or as it pertains to any deficiency in tax, penalty or interest, assessment “means the mailing or issuance of a notice and demand for payment.” C.C.R. 201-2: 39-22-103.1 clarifies the statutory definition of assessment and also provides that “[a] notice to a taxpayer that the executive director believes a deficiency exists is not an assessment.”

The IRS soon became frustrated with the arbitrary work imposed upon them by the conspiring and incompetent CDOR and for the most part, the IRS accepted the validity and value of land owner’s conservation easements. Incredulously, the CDOR then audaciously refused to accept IRS evaluations even though the Colorado statutes clearly identified the IRS regulations as the only standard.

Eventually, the state legislature appropriated funds for the CDOR to hire review appraisers. These appraisers, whose consultant fees ranged from $7,000 to $15,000 per appraisal, produced CDOR’s (desired-insane) pre-determined outcome of $0 (ZERO) value determinations. This coincided with the brokers’ mission to discredit most, if not all, of the initial values determined by the state-licensed appraisers, who were legally engaged by ranchers and farmers to establish values for their respective CEs.

–Ron Lee and Lorne Dey

Colorado’s ‘Legalized’ Theft

This is the first installment of a three-part investigative report from US~Observer. For background, read Conservation Easements: The Rape And Pillage of Landowners.

Imagine you use a licensed tax preparer to file your Federal income taxes, just as you have for the past 10 years. Using standard lawful deductions, you have always gotten some money back or at least reduced your taxes. The economy crumbles and Congress re-writes the tax code. You subsequently receive a letter from the Internal Revenue Service that states you are responsible for paying back all the money you have received over the years (resulting from deductions), plus multiple years’ worth of interest and penalties. Crazy? You would think.

Now imagine that it is a State land scheme you are dealing with and that your property, previously appraised at highest and best use for conservation easement (CE) purposes, has just been revalued by the State (which has no authority to do so) at “zero” and that you are being ordered to repay tax credits legally given to you over the past years, plus penalties and interest. Welcome to Colorado’s CE program. Under the guise of conserving land and natural resources for future generations through CEs, the State of Colorado has abused and bankrupted law-abiding citizens in a bait-and-switch scheme worthy of national attention.

As announced in our last edition, the US~Observer is investigating this “scheme” developed by private attorneys and enacted by the State of Colorado, which lured unsuspecting landowners (farmers and ranchers) into forever encumbering their property with a CE. They did so with the promise that the landowners could legally monetize the development (property) rights of their land. And then many years after the transactions, the State of Colorado reneged on the deal and began its extortion tactics. If a common citizen did the same thing that the State did, it would factually fit the crime of racketeering.

What began as a nefarious strategy for attorneys to obtain Colorado State tax credits for their wealthy clients transformed into an industry through which said attorneys enrich themselves. The process has caused disasters, including bankruptcy; family breakups; and mental, physical and financial despair for unsuspecting land owners and their State-licensed appraisers, who all followed the law.

The alleged architect, Larry Kueter, is a Denver attorney who reportedly persuaded Colorado State Representative Lola Spradley to introduce cleverly designed legislation in 1999 and 2001 that purposely minimized “oversight” in order to provide lucrative benefits to special-interest attorneys, tax-credit brokers and wealthy clients by offering “State tax credits” for Colorado CEs.

What Is A Conservation Easement?

The term emerged in the 1950s, with the U.S. Congress passing an amendment to the Tax Reform Act of 1976 providing expressed authority for IRS tax deductions for CE donations. A CE isn’t anything like a traditional easement, where a landowner gives permission for a “positive restriction” to another entity (government, business or individual), which is the right to make limited use of the property for a specified purpose, duration and/or designated sum of money (i.e., a buried pipeline, cable, road access, etc.). Conversely, a CE is a “negative restriction” where the land owner restricts the property from ever being developed (mining, housing, water, etc.). He does so by placing the subject land into an IRS 501 (c)(3)-certified Land Trust, a special nonprofit that is set up to “receive” these donations and to be responsible for monitoring the entrusted land. The landowner records a CE deed (restriction) with the respective county clerk and the CE deed must identify the receiving land trust in order to qualify for the authorized tax deductions. The value of the tax deduction is determined by a qualified appraisal, as identified by the Federal regulations IRS 170(h).

History

On the premise of preserving “open space” and preserving Colorado’s “natural resources,” Larry Kueter reportedly cleverly manipulated Colorado State legislators to enact a law to generate “State” tax credits, with provisions that land owners (CE donors) could “transfer” (sell) State tax credits to more wealthy individuals. Despite the well-reasoned opposition testimony of Colorado State Representative Douglas Bruce identifying numerous concerns (lack of oversight, qualifications for appraisers, how are “perpetuity” values determined, the Department of Revenue’s inability to monitor or examine appraisals, could CEs be established anywhere 50 miles east of Springfield, Colo., etc.), Larry Kueter reportedly assured the Colorado State Legislature that adding oversight would be cumbersome and that the IRS regulations were self- policing. The legislation passed, with the influential front-range attorneys, land trusts, and tax brokers all elated and ready to rake in lucrative tax deals for their wealthy clients.

Reportedly, those directly benefiting from the CE program include Denver attorneys Larry Kueter and Bill Silberstein,tax credit brokers, attorney Mike Strugar of Strugar Conservation Services LLC in Boulder, Carl Spina of Conservation Tax Credit Transfer LLC and Marty Zeller of Conservation Partners. According to information received, another very questionable individual is John Swarthout, former president of Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts. Curiously, Swarthout recently joined Governor John Hickenlooper’s office, as a “policy adviser” and is reportedly heavily tied to oil companies.

The Tax Credit Brokers’ Control Of The CE Business

Up to the point of the legislation passing, cash-poor land owners had little to no benefit in using CEs on their property. The legislation, however, gave these struggling individuals a way to monetize their property rights, while keeping it in “trust” for future generations of Coloradans — a seemingly win-win scenario.

The promoters of the CE program obviously failed to foresee the wide acceptance of participation in the CE program by Colorado farmers and ranchers. And some of the promoters conspired to create a mess in order to manipulate control. The control, it turns out, was to discredit (destroy) the legitimacy of any appraisal that did not meet the allegedly unscrupulous promoters’ personal criteria and greedy agenda.

In one of the numerous committee hearings held by the legislature, Carl Spina reportedly asserted that he, as well as any of the tax credit brokers, could determine the validity of any appraisal or easement in a period of 15 or 20 minutes and for any State agency to have that authority would be unnecessary.

The notion that establishing a CE and respective State tax credits was complex was not lost on the land owners; they expended a great deal of money to hire the appropriate professionals to ensure complete compliance (i.e., State-certified appraisers, attorneys, certified public accountants, wildlife biologists, geologists, etc. — see graphic insert below).

CEgraphic2

When the legislation passed, the State legislators anticipated about $15 million of tax credits to be generated annually, according to the bill sponsors. However, after the land trusts wooed land owners across the State with the “lure” of cash from the sale of tax credits and the good feeling conveyed by the land trusts of doing something for conservation, the State was obligated for more than $265 million in tax credits.

–Ron Lee and Lorne Dey

Liberty And Justice For All

The right against self-incrimination comes from the 5th amendment and it is as follows:

… [No] person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…

The right is more broadly applicable than it may seem on its face. Clearly, the right provides protection for a person to refuse to take the witness stand during a trial in which he is the defendant. However, this right also protects a person’s right to refuse to answer questions posed by government agents at any time, except in very limited circumstances (e.g. you should provide your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information to a police officer upon request if you’ve been pulled over in your vehicle).

This right makes sense, doesn’t it? Why should we, a free people, have to speak to our government agents unless we want to? We are not necessarily beholden to our government. Rather, the government is an institution put in place by, and beholden to, us. My point here is not that we should be rude or obstinate — only that we must recognize that each of us has the right to communicate with the government on our terms or, if we so decide, not at all. One can be respectful to our government agents, as we would be to any other human being; but being respectful does not require impotent compliance with their requests for information.

Some of you may be thinking: “Yes, but why wouldn’t I want to answer the government’s questions? I have nothing to hide. Further, only people who have something to hide would refuse to cooperate and I am not that person.” For those of you who find yourself thinking like this, I offer the following for your consideration:

  1. If you were approached by a person and this person began asking you questions and told you that you must answer their questions “because I said so,” how likely would you be to obey this stranger’s command? Is this type of demand one that we (society) are going to tolerate as socially acceptable behavior? Even if you are not a confrontational person and you’d answer the questions posed just to get out of the situation, should you hold it against someone else because they are less complicit and they simply said “no” and walked away?
  2. Isn’t the “because I said so” philosophy described above, when exhibited by the government and tolerated by the people, the essence of a tyrannical regime? It is reminiscent of the times when I was a child and my parents used the “because I told you to” justification in response to my objections to clean my room or complete other household chores. A tyranny of the parents over their young children is perhaps more appropriate, but it certainly has no place in our government’s relationship with its citizens if we are to retain our freedoms.
  3. If you are being questioned by government agents, you can be sure they have an agenda. Their agenda is to discover and prepare a criminal case for prosecution. Their purpose is not to discover evidence suggesting no crime occurred. In truth, their primary objective, and what they have been programmed to do, is to discover and develop evidence that a crime did occur.
    Please understand what I am saying here; officers are trained to discover evidence of crime — not the other way around. If there is any evidence that a crime could possibly have occurred, you may find yourself on the defending end of a criminal prosecution. I am not saying that officers are necessarily fabricating evidence (though this may happen) but only that discovery of incriminating evidence is the primary objective.
    The U.S. Supreme Court said it best when it stated, “…one of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent men who might otherwise be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances…we recognize that truthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as those of a wrongdoer, may provide the government with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth.” Ohio v. Reiner (2001)
  4. It must be understood and constantly appreciated that our government agents are human. As such, they are susceptible to performing their duties with a selfish objective. Officers are employed to do a job. Their job performance is, in part, evaluated on how many tickets they write and/or arrests they make. An officer who is not writing tickets and/or making arrests is telling his department and the community: “You don’t need me. I am just collecting a pay check because there isn’t enough crime going on, which is evidenced by my lack of writing tickets and making arrests.”
    It is fair to say that an unwritten compulsion exists for officers to make arrests and write tickets out of pure necessity so as to maintain job security. A person faced with a government agent trying to meet a quota would be remiss in speaking any more than absolutely necessary.
  5. Finally, government agents make mistakes. Speaking to them simply provides more opportunity for mistakes and/or miscommunication to occur. If mistakes and/or miscommunication occur, there is now inaccurate information that will be used as evidence. Inaccurate information is never conducive to discovering truth.

Understand what it means to have a right to remain silent and be proud to exercise that right. Equally important is that we should not hold it against others when they’ve exercised their right to remain silent. In understanding and exercising our rights, and supporting each other when we’ve asserted them, we are forcing the government to acknowledge and respect them.

Nathan Wente

About the Author: While attending law school in California, Nathan Wente clerked in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for two years. After graduation, he moved to Northern California and began working as a deputy district attorney in Siskyou County. Wente was employed there for nearly three years before resigning his position to become a defense attorney.

Wente’s primary motivation in switching from the role of a prosecutor to a defense attorney was, generally speaking, his disgust with government operations and their refusal to respect civil rights. In short, it was Wente’s impression that government’s primary goal was to make arrests and get convictions, whatever the cost. According to Wente, achieving justice was simply an outdated ideal that may be worthy of lip service should the right circumstances arise.

This article, which originally appeared in the US~Observer, does not contain legal advice; it is only the opinion of the author.

 

Judicial Interpretation

“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.” — John Basil Barnhill (1914)

This quote is so simple and yet so profound in its truth. How then do we, the people, cause our government to “fear” us so that we may maintain liberty and live free? I believe the answer is in becoming educated about our rights as they are memorialized under the law, especially under the U.S. Constitution. Without knowledge and exercising of our rights, there is no incentive for the government to honor them.

Fundamental to our structure of government are the three branches of government and the doctrine of separation of powers. The legislative branch creates law, the executive branch enforces the law and the judicial branch applies, and is often called upon to interpret, the law. I offer the following example to illustrate what judicial interpretation looks like (I use a California example, but this principle is universally applicable):

California Vehicle Code 23152(a) — It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug to drive a vehicle.

This law seems fairly straightforward, but there are some ambiguities. For instance, what does it actually mean “to drive” a vehicle? We might all agree that driving certainly includes someone operating their vehicle while it is moving upon a roadway. However, if the Legislature neglects to define “to drive,” the courts will be called upon to interpret this phrase.

Through judicial interpretation the California courts have defined the phrase “to drive” as, “where a person actively asserts control over a vehicle and takes every step necessary to resume travel along a public road.” This definition of “to drive” may now be used across the State. Officers may rely on it, attorneys will cite it, juries may be instructed by it and courts will follow it. It is law to an equal degree as if it were law passed by the Legislature.

The above example, although perhaps somewhat benign, begs the question: Where is the line drawn between permissible judicial interpretation of law versus impermissible judicial creation of law?

The following is one of many examples of judicial creation of law performed under the guise of judicial interpretation of law.

The last clause in the 5th amendment provides, “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.” From the face of this law, it is clear that the Constitution protects against government taking private property without “just compensation.” Further, government is limited in that the property may be taken only “for public use.” The language is clear.

However, in 1906, the U.S. Supreme Court began rejecting the “use by general public” test in determining whether a taking was Constitutional under the 5th amendment. In other words, the court decided that the language indicating property may only be taken “for public use” was too great a limitation on government takings. Instead, the court has fashioned its own standard in assessing the Constitutionality of property takings on a case by case basis and, generally speaking, use its created standard that takings must satisfy a public purpose.

The court’s standard was most recently expressed in Kelo v. City of New London (2005). In this case the court sanctioned the taking of private property from its owner to give to a different owner based purely on the notion the transfer would serve an economic benefit.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, in the dissenting opinion, correctly pointed out that if positive side effects are enough to render transfer from one private party to another Constitutional, then the words “for public use” do not realistically exclude any takings.

I contend that this case is a perfect example of judicial creation of law. In roughly 100 years of legal evolution, the court managed to “judicially interpret” the public use requirement of the 5th amendment out of existence. Judicial creation of law (a.k.a. judicial activism) is a threat to the principle of separation of powers because one branch (the judicial) is encroaching on the powers of another branch (the legislative).

Perhaps some interpretation in limited circumstances may be necessary for consistency in application of law. However, a judiciary permitted by the citizenry to “interpret” away their rights is scary indeed. Judges, just like the politicians elected into the Legislature, must be scrutinized. They should be encouraged to administer the law as it appears on its face. If a law needs amending, then a legislative amendment is the proper remedy — not a judicial “interpretation.”

Nathan Wente

About the Author: While attending law school in California, Nathan Wente clerked in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for two years. After graduation, he moved to Northern California and began working as a deputy district attorney in Siskyou County. Wente was employed there for nearly three years before resigning his position to become a defense attorney.

Wente’s primary motivation in switching from the role of a prosecutor to a defense attorney was, generally speaking, his disgust with government operations and their refusal to respect civil rights. In short, it was Wente’s impression that government’s primary goal was to make arrests and get convictions, whatever the cost. According to Wente, achieving justice was simply an outdated ideal that may be worthy of lip service should the right circumstances arise.

This article, which originally appeared in the US~Observer, does not contain legal advice; it is only the opinion of the author.

Natural Wrongs, Natural Rights

“The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasonings is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that; and cannot be wrested from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice.” – Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775

The Declaration Of Independence

According to the founding document of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, a just government is one that secures the unalienable rights of every person. Those rights are, in general terms, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or “life, liberty, and property” in the original “List of Grievances,” 1775).

The Declaration asserts these rights come from the Creator, or Nature’s God. Were the Founders just making this up out of thin air to craft a new religious dogma? Not at all.

The term “rights” means the opposite of “wrongs.” To understand the meaning of natural rights, it helps to first understand natural wrongs. They are your own innate understanding of when you have been wronged by another person. With a bit of introspection, you will remember what you have known all along.

Natural Wrongs

In general, the natural wrongs against you might be called violence, bullying and stealing. You have known, since you were very young, when these were done to you and that they are wrong. Nobody had to tell you that these acts are wrong. It is a natural understanding, imbued into you by your Creator.

If a person does violence to you (harming you bodily or, by extension, endangering your life), you know you have been wronged.

If a person threatens violence against you to intimidate you into doing as he wishes, you know you have been wronged.

If you have worked to earn wealth and property, to improve your life and pursue your own happiness, and another person seizes what is yours, you know you have been wronged.

Even a 4-year-old child innately understands these natural wrongs.

Stopping Wrongs Is Justice

All men are created equal. You know this to be true. No other person innately possesses higher authority over you than you do. Therefore, you have the right to defend yourself against natural wrongs no matter who is trying to inflict those wrongs.

Your right to life presumes you will defend yourself against violence.

Your right to liberty presumes you will defend yourself against bullying and other forms of coercion.

Your right to the pursuit of happiness presumes you will defend yourself against anyone trying to steal what you have obtained in that pursuit.

In a sane world, when someone tries to commit a wrong against you, justice is served when you use whatever force is necessary to stop them. If he persists, it is at his own peril. It is your natural right to defend yourself against natural wrongs.

Because we are a just and empathetic people, we collectively defend another person who is being wronged and who cannot adequately defend himself. Our form of government was crafted around this principle, and our public servants are tasked with this duty. Yet, at the moment a wrongdoer strikes, government servants are not likely to be present to defend you. Or the wrongs against you may originate from people with government jobs. That is why the people retain the right to defend our natural rights.

The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the natural right of the people (that’s you) to keep and bear arms (combat weaponry) to preserve a free state by use of force against wrongdoers.

Freedom means that wrongdoers hold no power over you. If wrongdoers achieve dominance, freedom is lost. In a sane and just nation, the people understand their natural rights and retain the dominance of force to defend them.

To thwart wrongdoers with whatever force is necessary is called “justice.”

Government Wrongdoing

The most common wrong committed by politicians is the creation of a government institution that will steal from us and deliver the pillaged assets someone else.

Unlawful theft and redistribution of our wealth comes in many forms. It might be a “Cash for Clunkers” program, taking wealth from some to give to others so that they may purchase a new car. It might be a “bailout,” seizing wealth from the people and from honestly run businesses to ensure corporations such as GM, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not suffer the consequences of their actions. It might be seizure of our assets to subsidize “green” programs that are well represented in the investment portfolios of the politicians pushing tax dollars into those programs.

Examine political candidates carefully. Do they support redistribution of wealth? Are they backed by our nation’s socialist enemies? Do they support what they call “reasonable,” though unlawful, infringements on the 2nd Amendment? Do they support ongoing invasion (illegal immigration) that allows a foreign nation to demographically conquer portions of the United States? Do they serve George Soros, who is notorious for economically crashing several other nations and is currently doing the same to the United States? Do they hate our national principles so much they swear to “fundamentally transform” our Nation into something else?

If you are an American, you will understand such a person is immediately disqualified from public service in defense of our rights. Vote accordingly.

Your Duty As An American

The Constitution of the United States is a contract permitting our public servants to take only specified actions on our behalf. All other actions are prohibited to them. The contract was constructed to protect our rights against government abuse. Obedience to this contract is a condition of their employment by us.

When you step up to the ballot box, you have a duty to support only a public servant who will faithfully uphold and obey the Constitution, as they will swear an oath to do.

When you bear arms to defend yourself and others against the aggressive wrongdoer, you perform your duty as a citizen in preserving a free state.

When you refuse to accept a share of the loot seized from your fellow Americans, you take a stand for what is right. Your rights do not allow you to take something from another person against his will — or to have agents of government do that taking for you. That would be wrong.

Remember what is wrong, learn to identify it and put a stop to it. Civil liberty exists only when the people take action to prevent natural wrongs from being inflicted upon any one of us.

Think about it.

–Victor Sayre

A US~Observer exclusive used by permission.

Democracy Is Not Political Morality

A question was posed to me recently that deserves a clear answer: “What is political morality?”

It was posed in the context that morality is different from one culture or ideology to the next. I strongly disagree with this notion. Instead, what changes is the culture’s peer pressure or coercion of its members to accept what they know to be immorality. There is a universal morality understood by all humans except a few sociopaths.

A government that upholds that morality is a politically moral government. Nearly all of human history is characterized by governments that instead chose amoral rule by a ruling class over a general population of serfs. The Founders of the United States took an honest look at morality, spelled it out then worked to build a political system that would limit the power of government to stray from it.

The Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles…

We all know when we have been personally wronged. If someone commits the amoral act of trying to harm us, to kill us, to rob us, to steal our earnings or to bully us into silence when they don’t like what we are saying, we know they are doing us wrong. Every healthy creature will defend itself against someone trying to do such harms.

But what happens when an individual is set upon by superior numbers trying to do him wrong? That is democracy, in which superior numbers have an assumed authority to wrong someone just because there are more of them.

A politically moral government, as the Founders put it, will defend one single person against 99 percent of the population trying to do him wrong. It will defend that person’s property against wrongful taking; it will defend his liberty to say what he believes to be true even if others find it offensive; it will defend him personally against physical harm; it will punish anyone who tries to wrong him.

It’s why our Founders wrote our Constitution to defend us against the evils of democracy. It was to ensure the Federal government had no permission to act on the will of the people and could perform only the specific duties spelled out in Article I, Section 8. Its overarching duty is to defend the people against the wrongs we all know to be wrongs.

That is political morality.

–Victor Sayre

Conservation Easements: The Rape And Pillage of Landowners

The US~Observer has recently started an investigation into what is obviously a scheme to fraudulently obtain ranchers’ and farmers’ property for nothing or next to nothing by using controversial conservation easements. From what we know so far, the major players in this scheme are the State of Colorado, brokers and land trusts made up of or directed primarily by attorneys. At the time of this writing, the US~Observer believes that the ultimate goal of the perpetrators is to get control of the ranchers’ and farmers’ land, which includes water, mining and development rights.

This process in the State of Colorado concerning conservation easements began in 1999, when the land developers asked certain attorneys to design a State bill that would allow tax deductions and tax credits to be generated in exchange for landowners to donate all or portions of their property to go to conservation easements, reportedly to preserve the land for “ranching, farming, and open space,” thereby preserving natural resources. This bill was introduced at a time when the State enjoyed a surplus of tax revenue.

However, in the mid-2000s and later when the economy began to take a downturn, the State began seeking additional or new tax revenues, even if it meant double-crossing people who had legally and honestly availed themselves of tax incentives offered earlier by the State.

A decade later, the State of Colorado is now on a relentless mission, with the “behind the scenes” help of other entities, to recoup tax credits, plus multiple years of penalty and interest, from landowners who legitimately took advantage of the scheme established by the State Legislature. The ruse the State is using is that the lands that were appraised by “State-licensed” appraisers at the land owner’s expense are actually of zero value. How’s that for pure insanity!

In one case, involving one family and three separate, contiguous conservation easements, the Internal Revenue Service calculated their 2003 conservation easements to have at least 87 percent of their appraised value. But officials within the State of Colorado — particularly the executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR), Barbara Brohl, and State Attorney General John Suthers — are virtually ignoring the IRS. Brohl and Suthers are promoting this insidious injustice, even in light of the fact that the Colorado statutes (2003-2007) identified that the IRS regulations were the only standards that applied to Colorado conservation easements. And they simultaneously argue that statutes enacted from 2008 to 2013 apply retroactively to the “open space” donations made between 2003 and 2007.

Amazingly, Governor John Hickenlooper settled his own personal conservation easements with the IRS in the midst of his gubernatorial campaign, and the CDOR accepted “his” IRS settlement. In other words, it didn’t attempt to monetarily rape and pillage Hickenlooper, like it has approximately 600 ranchers and farmers throughout the State. Go figure! Hickenlooper is Brohl’s boss, and he obviously has great influence over Suthers.

Hickenlooper could have ended the abuse and financial destruction of ranchers and farmers at any time during his tenure of office. But he has remained mute, seeming to enjoy Colorado’s stolen benefits, as well as his enhanced connections to high-dollar interests.

Property owners, financially devastated by their participation in the conservation easement program, have done everything strictly by the book and at great expense:

  • Costs and professional fees to establish the conservation easements.
  • And expending exorbitant attorney fees to defend their “open space” donations.

What the State is doing to them is absolutely unconscionable. And the arguments being used by the State and certain attorneys can be described only as an egregious abuse of power — an outrageous story of David and Goliath.

The US~Observer is preparing an in-depth article on this issue for our April edition wherein we will be naming the main culprits and their true motives.

Anyone with information on Colorado’s conservation easements or any of the players involved is urged to call Lorne Dey at 720-231-2038 or email lorne@usobserver.com.

Lorne Dey

Deflated Property Values For Public Officials?

NYE COUNTY, Nev. — In US~Observer‘s last edition, US~Observer Chief of Investigations Edward Snook wrote: “DA Brian Kunzi is almost frantic in his efforts to destroy Shirley Matson. Kunzi appears to be hiding some things that are extremely important (damning) and rest assured, we will find out exactly what they are.”

One of the most expensive residential properties in Tonopah, Nev., is owned by former Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley and her husband Dennis. Let’s cut right to the chase, readers.

When allegations of corruption come to the attention of the US~Observer, Chief of Investigations Edward Snook always instructs that you need to follow the money. He has stated, “Corruption always involves the monetary in one way or another.”

The Eastleys paid $583.72 in property taxes for their castle and the property it is built on in 2013.

According to Nye County records, the Eastleys bought their castle in 1998 for $145,000. One would assume that it was worth $145,000, or they wouldn’t have paid that amount. One would also assume that since Bank of America gave the Eastleys a loan against the property, that they required an appraisal equaling the amount of the loan.

Reports uncovered by the US~Observer show that Joni Eastley reportedly stated that she and her husband put an amount equal to the purchase price ($145,000) into the outside of their Castle. This would mean that the value of the Eastley castle was at least $290,000 in the tax year 2000. However, Nye County had only a $21,943 taxable value on the Eastley castle for tax year 2000-2001. While taxable values and market values are different, the fact remains that the Eastleys are obviously paying far less in property taxes for their Castle than most Nye County homeowners, if you compare true value. Why?

JoVon Sotak, a contributing writer for Old House Web, wrote an article on the Eastley castle wherein he stated, “Joni discreetly told me that she and Dennis have put money equal to the purchase price into the exterior of the home.” He went on to disclose that Eastleys spent an additional $10,000 into rewiring the home and that they were planning to restore the basement. Given these figures, the Eastley castle would be worth at least $300,000, not including the basement restoration or other work done to the interior of the home. Our experts estimate the current value of the Eastley castle at $400,000.

It certainly would appear to any prudent person that former Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley has received favoritism from present and past employees of the Nye County Tax Assessor’s Office and or past elected tax assessors themselves. And there is no question why assessor Matson was stripped of having a chief deputy appraiser. Certain people wanted Matson to become overwhelmed with duties other than making sure property values were correct. Matson will likely be doing a lot of checking once she reads this article.

In any event, the ridiculously low, current tax value of $44,274 assessed on the Eastley castle has all appearance of possible criminal or highly unethical activity. Is this part of the reason that Nye County public officials and others attacked Matson so viciously when she was “mistakenly” elected Assessor in the last election? It must be, because no one had any valid reason whatsoever for going after her.

Cheating the hardworking, taxpaying citizens of Nye County is certainly going to make some insiders very nervous, as well it should. Those who are paying double and triple the amount of property taxes compared to Joni and Dennis Eastley are going to be mighty upset when they read this alarming article!

The US~Observer is digging into other tax issues related to past and present Nye County public officials. The US~Observer is also investigating numerous other tax- and money-related accusations that allege corruption in Nye County.

The US~Observer asks all homeowners in Nye County to compare their property to the Eastley castle and then compare what they paid last year in property taxes with the $583.72 that the Eastleys paid on their castle. Keep in mind when you compare your home and property with the Eastley castle that if the Eastleys made such extravagant renovations to the outside of their castle, you can rest assured that they made significant renovations to the inside as well.

Icing On Top Of The Corruption Cake

Joni Eastley is alleged to have been fired from Round Mountain Gold a dozen or so years ago. She went into politics, becoming a Nye County Commissioner and reportedly earning a measly stipend of $24,000 a year. Now, after 12 years, she is currently termed out. From a commissioner she was moved laterally (via alleged unlawful tactics) by the Board of Commissioners (with Commissioner Lorinda Wichman’s alleged influence) in 2013, to the position of assistant county manager. I’ll just bet that she has her sights set on the Nye County manager position. And if my bet is right, Nye County taxpayers had better watch out.

Nye County taxpayers need to pay attention and get involved, or just keep on getting screwed.

Anyone with information regarding corruption in Nye County, Nev., is urged to contact investigative reporter Andrew Alberti at 775-513-6056 or email andrew@usobserver.com.

Edward Snook’s Public Message To Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi:

As you can see, Kunzi, we have been very busy investigating Nye County alleged corruption; and we have barely scratched the surface. We have plenty more issues to bring to the citizens of Nye County once we have confirmed validity, and most of them are far more serious than the Eastley castle one.

I am fully aware of the many statements you have made about my “rag” US~Observer, about your ability to file a lawsuit, etc. I am also completely aware of valid complaints that have been presented to you that you have done absolutely nothing about. Rest assured Mr. Kunzi, I would welcome a frivolous lawsuit, and in fact I would gladly pay your filing fees. It would be extremely interesting to see you attempt to answer the many questions I have for you.

At this time I would again urge you to start seeking justice and simply do what is right. You still have the ability to call me and make things right in Nye County. When and if you call I suggest you start our conversation by assuring me that you will personally see that Nye County Tax Assessor Shirley Matson is reimbursed the $45,000.00 plus she has coming. You absolutely know what this amount is all about.

Further, given your track record, I don’t expect you to do anything about the damning information in this article, other than to attempt to cover it up.

If you continue on the road you have taken, the time will soon come when my phone line will no longer be available to you. When that occurs, I would make the educated guess that your career and reputation will go exactly the same direction as your predecessor Robert Beckett (crooked former Nye County District Attorney).

My direct number is 541-291-6052 Brian, call me.

Every taxpaying citizen in Nye County should be enraged after reading about this corruption. If they are responsible, they will pick up their phone, call Kunzi at 775-751-7080 and give him a piece of their mind.

–Andrew Alberti and Edward Snook

DA, Undersheriff And Criminal In Bed; Criminal Case Manufactured

Would you believe the accusations of a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal record who has been in and out of prison and in trouble with the law since 1982 without corroborating his story? Bent County, Colo., Undersheriff Tandy Hasser would and did when she arrested 68-year-old Fritz Sturges based solely on accusations from an officially identified “habitual felony offender” by the name of David Elmo Henry Jr.

Henry’s rap sheet is so long, it appears he seeks to get arrested for something every time he needs a free meal from a government-sponsored jail cell.

Contrasting Henry is Sturges, the true victim in this case. Sturges, an exemplary citizen with a spotless criminal record, is the type of individual who gives freely of his time and resources to worthwhile causes with no strings attached.

For example, this reporter discovered that in 2011, Sturges made sure, out of his own resources, that a 4-H program designed to train children in horsemanship became a reality. The program ultimately came to fruition because Sturges personally fronted the approximately $5,500 needed for the youth program. In addition, he donated his time and use of his horses and tack valued at over $50,000 for use in the program. Not only did he donate the use of the horses, but he trailered them back and forth from his ranch to the training grounds every day so the children could show the horses at the Baca County Fair and ride in the parade in Springfield. Sturges said: “I wanted to share my love of horses with children who could not afford to own their own horse.” This program was so well-thought-of that the Colorado Horse Council, Baca County 4H, Frontier Bank and Springfield Baptist Chapel cooperatively sponsored the program with Sturges. This is the kind of man Sturges is.

No Evidence? No Problem — In Bent County Anyway!

On April 19, Sturges was arrested on seven counts of criminal solicitation to commit first degree kidnapping and one count of criminal solicitation to commit assault in the first degree. On May 20, District Attorney James R. Bullock filed an information document and changed to seven counts of attempted murder, seven counts of kidnapping and one count of solicitation to commit assault on eight individuals — all without a shred of evidence, apart from the words of proven felon and serial liar Henry, who had been working as an employee of Clay Creek Ranch.

On Feb. 16, 2013, after Henry had lied about an appointment with his parole officer, Sturges took Henry’s keys from him, causing Henry to become disgruntled. On Feb. 24, 2013, an attempted theft of Sturges’ favorite horse, Homer, failed; and the horse was severely injured. Bent County failed to respond to the 911 call and, to this day, has not investigated the attempted theft and injury of the horse. Henry was the key suspect in the attempted theft.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Henry has a long list of aliases such as: Bronc, Nick Heel, Cowboy Henry, Mic Henry, Nick Henry, Dave Hill and Nic Nealy, to name just a few. To show how ridiculous the charges against Sturges actually are, his supposed victims didn’t even know Fritz was allegedly after them until they were notified by Hasser. Also, the eight people Sturges allegedly planned to victimize hadn’t been murdered, kidnapped or assaulted. In fact, Housten Gourley, one of the reported victims, was staying at Sturges’ house on weekends when the accusations were made; and he has never been contacted by Bent County.

In an interview with local investigator Dan Corsentino, one alleged victim, Jami Childers, said: “I think Fritz is a good person. If he gets away from Belinda (Sturges’ girlfriend), I don’t want him to go to jail. He was always good to us.”

Apparently, in Bent County you don’t need to have committed a crime to have your animals injured and your life ruined by false criminal charges; all you need is an accusation from anyone, even a habitual felony offender like Henry. It is important to note at this juncture that a majority of the many crimes Henry has committed involved dishonesty, including but not limited to horse theft, cattle theft, tack theft, burglary and con games.

Sturges has been accused by Henry of digging a hole on his property for the sole purpose of burying his alleged victims, then planning to use lime to quickly decompose their bodies. Henry has to be “in bed” with Hasser in some manner because this reporter easily learned from other ranchers in Bent County that it is common practice for nearly every rancher in the area to dig holes on their property for the disposal of dead livestock to keep down the stench of decay and discourage predators such as coyotes. In fact, it is the recommended, cost-effective practice by myriad farm and ranch-related websites for the disposal of livestock carcasses.

Austin White Lime, the kind that Sturges keeps on hand around the ranch and has been photographed for use as evidence against him, is actually used to control odor and absorb liquid and is a common item readily available at local feed and building supply stores for a variety of agricultural uses. A majority of Colorado ranchers use this product for the same exact reason.

Henry or Hasser or both also have to be “in bed” with Bullock, due to the fact that Bullock is not ignorant enough to prosecute a rancher for a crime that hasn’t been committed and that makes no sense whatsoever. Bullock had firsthand knowledge of the trespassing issues, horse death and injuries; and he received a request for assistance in catching the perpetrator(s) in a meeting on March 7, 2013, with Sturges, Lonye Buck and Belinda Groner.

So Why Was Sturges Arrested And Charged?

According to what this reporter has uncovered, the prime instigator behind Sturges’ arrest appears to be Hasser. There is compelling evidence to show that Hasser has been at odds with Sturges for some time over calls Sturges made to ask Bent County law enforcement to investigate vandalism and horses being killed and injured on his ranch.

Also, according to evidence, Hasser appears to not be averse to abusing her power and falsifying official documents to get what she wants or go after someone she has decided she doesn’t like.

For example, on Dec. 6, 2012, law enforcement officers from Bent and Prowers counties reportedly executed a search warrant at the Prowers County residence of Kim and Alden Piner. The Piners were reportedly accused by Hasser of selling stolen “horse tack,” after she allegedly searched their private Facebook page. After a thorough search of their premises, it turned out that the Piners were completely innocent. Sheriff Jim Faull of Prowers County was later quoted as stating, “… follow up investigations showed that the people in question were totally innocent and the information to obtain the warrant proved to be inaccurate.” The affidavit used to obtain the search warrant was reportedly submitted by Hasser.

In a blog post on lamarco.us entitled “Falsely Accused,” Jan Verhoeff wrote:

When I asked Kim Piner if Tandy Parrish-Hasser (a deputy sheriff officer from Bent County and the officer who had bullishly pushed the warrant through various levels of the judicial system prior to arrival at the Piner home) was on hand from the beginning, she said, “Oh yea, in a big, hateful-smug kind of way. If you were here I would show you the warrant, she lied about the vehicles that we own to make them match the description of the vehicles seen on the property. Prowers County Deputies said that they were washing their hands of this whole case, because of all the mis-information.”

Groner, Sturges’ partner, told reporters at the US~Observer of other instances wherein Hasser lied about facts in Sturges’ case. For example, the hole in question was originally estimated to be about 7 feet by 7.5 feet. That was later changed on the return search warrant, allegedly by Hasser, to be about 12 feet by 15 feet, reportedly in order to accommodate Sturges’ victims after he killed them. It’s obvious why Hasser would change the size of the hole, and it’s also very clear to this writer why she would fail to mention that Sturges has many other holes in the area where he has buried dead livestock and deceased pets in the past.

Groner told the US~Observer of DNA evidence found on one of her injured horses that died on Nov. 8, 2012, that could have incriminated one of Hasser’s friends and how that evidence was reported lost by Bent County Deputy Sam Fief in a report amended in February 2013, after Hasser repeatedly claimed it was at the CBI. Groner said she contacted CBI, and they advised no evidence was ever received.

How Does Law Enforcement Just ‘Lose’ Evidence?

So how does a sheriff’s deputy do these kinds of things and still keep her job? The answer may lie with Bent County Sheriff David R. Encinias. The following is taken directly from another lamarco.us article titled, “Bent County Sheriff Gone Rogue?”:

Law Abiding Citizens in the county feel like they’ve been targeted by specific officers in the department, for no reason. As well they should! From all appearances, the officers have chosen to focus on harassing law abiding citizens instead of doing the work necessary to put a criminal behind bars. WHY are they protecting a man who shows every indication of having emotional issues, if not dangerous insanity issues, by tormenting and harassing law abiding citizens?

The favored man in question here is another felon, named Albert Kirk Hornung.

In a companion article, the lamarco.us writer recounts the story of Ray and Penny Gonzales, who were allegedly harassed by Hornung. In the Gonzales’ story, Hornung is allowed to possess a gun and fire it regularly, sometimes toward the Gonzales’ residence without any negative consequences from Bent County law enforcement. However, when the Gonzales’ complained about what their neighbor Hornung was doing, the Bent County Deputies ultimately turned the tables on them and made Hornung the victim and Ray Gonzales the perpetrator — very much like in the Sturges story.

Why would sheriff’s deputies protect felons at the expense of law-abiding citizens, and why was a felon allowed to possess a firearm and discharge it continually in order to harass anyone? Perhaps Encinias can answer these questions.

Getting back to the false charges against Sturges, pushing this travesty of justice forward against all reason is Bullock.

Giving Bullock the benefit of doubt, on Jan. 20, the US~Observer contacted Bullock, telling him that after a thorough investigation, we found Sturges to be completely innocent of the charges against him and that the accusations came solely from a “factually dishonest, conniving, career criminal” with no corroborating evidence. At a hearing on Jan. 31, Bullock had an opportunity to drop these ludicrous charges against Sturges, but he did not and has not as of the writing of this article. Bullock also reportedly did not, as required by law, forward our letter to Sturges’ attorney.

The false charges against Sturges are so insane that a conspiracy of some nature is nearly a given. Apart from the false accusations of a career criminal, Bullock and company are relying on irrelevant circumstantial evidence in the form of immaterial statements of previous employees, Sturges’ ex-wife and neighbors who have been at odds with Sturges over horses of theirs that they reportedly owed room and board on. Again, they knew nothing of any alleged threat until Hasser informed them of one (that factually didn’t exist).

This reporter interviewed a prominent law enforcement official from a county adjoining Bent County. He called the Sturges case “the most botched up nonsense that I have seen in my career… incredibly sloppy work” and said that if he were Bullock, he would “want to end this thing as fast as I could possibly end it.”

So why doesn’t Bullock end it by dropping the ludicrous false charges leveled against Sturges? Perhaps he is bucking for a State investigation like that of his counterpart Frank Ruybalid in Las Animas and Huerfano counties, for ethics violations in the mishandling of criminal cases by him, his prosecutors and other staff. Whatever the case may be (and rest assured, we will find out), one fact we have determined without question is that Henry, Bullock and Hasser are tied at the hip.

Sturges’s trial is currently scheduled for March 24 at the Bent County Courthouse, and he is represented by attorney Karl S. Tameler.

Anyone who has information regarding corruption or unethical actions committed by Bullock, Henry, Hasser, Encinias or Marion Summers (formerly Marion Sturges, the ex-wife of Fritz Sturges) is asked to contact Lorne Dey at lorne@usobserver.com. Witnesses can also call 541-474-7885. Your name and contact information will be completely confidential.

–Lorne Dey

‘Serial Rapist’ Headline Brings Silence

Washington State — The US~Observer published an article in our last edition titled “Wrestling Champ O’Neil — Serial Rapist? Innocent Referee in Prison.” I expected to see fireworks once this sensational, alarming blockbuster was published; but the only response was dead silence.

I did receive numerous complaints on Brian Garvie’s attorney, John Crowley of Seattle. The accusations related to his failure to adequately represent his clients. The complaints received were nearly identical to the complaints that Garvie and his father have related to me.

I also received numerous complaints regarding false prosecutions conducted by Snohomish County District Attorney Mark Roe, but not one word from the allegedly corrupt prosecutor himself. This is very telling, given the huge amount of evidence we published about Washington State Wrestling Champion Patrick O’Neil’s raping his teammates and others. Roe’s silence was totally expected. He was the prosecutor who conducted the manufactured criminal case against Garvie, placing the innocent wrestling referee in prison on a possible life sentence.

In my prior article on this case, I wrote: “In our next edition I am going to publish much more on this story. If people don’t come forward and if Snohomish County District Attorney Mark Roe fails to act, I intend to expose more facts. I will also name everyone involved…” People didn’t come forward, and Roe has failed to act on the valid evidence contained in that article; so I’ll get with the program.

On Oct. 14, I called and spoke with Kelly Longsdale, who is Michael Longsdale’s father. I informed him that I had received credible evidence that O’Neil raped or molested his son Michael when they were wrestling teammates spending nights together during wrestling tournaments. Longsdale was shocked at this information and maybe a bit offended, but he stated he would speak with his son about the accusations. I naively expected him to call me back and help me hold O’Neil accountable after he spoke with Michael. I obviously expected Michael to tell his father the truth; but to date, I haven’t heard one word from the Longsdales.

On Oct. 14, I also called Dave Gilbertson, who is the father of Johnny Gilbertson. He was shocked as well; but just like Longsdale, he stated he would question his son. I have credible witnesses who have stated that O’Neil raped and attempted to rape Johnny Gilbertson on more than one occasion when they were wrestling teammates spending nights together during wrestling tournaments.

Further, and as I reported in my original article on this case, other teammates of O’Neil’s claim that he raped them or attempted to rape them. I agreed to withhold their names because of their honesty and because the issue of a young male’s raping another young male is a filthy subject to anyone with morals.

Other teammates of O’Neil’s who were allegedly raped or molested include J.D. Goodrich, Nathan Decker, Tyson Metz, Josh Monson, Alex Pellegrini, Chace Smith, Trent Magneson and Shane Hunt.

I have very believable accusations that O’Neil allegedly claimed he raped 150 to 250 males, and I intend to name more of them in my next article on the perverse allegations against O’Neil.

I can understand that this article and the accusations are degrading. However, an innocent former wrestling referee has been in prison going on nine long years now; and I would expect he is actually in for the rest of his life. The people who allegedly have been victimized by O’Neil need to step forward and start demanding justice for Garvie, instead of attempting to hide from the alleged criminal acts over which they had no control.

No good and decent person could ever allow an innocent man to sit in prison for life while an alleged criminal rapist maintains his freedom and his ability to possibly rape others. For all those who think these issues will just go away, I have news for you: I am going to continue turning up the heat until those involved are forced to come forward.

I urge anyone with information on the alleged rapes and molestation by O’Neil, the alleged claims of ineffective assistance of counsel by Crowley or corruption involving Roe to call me at 541-474-7885 or email me at ed@usobserver.com.

–Edward Snook

Felony Sex-Abuse Charges Against US~Observer Client Dismissed

Jackson County, Ore. – On Jan. 17, Michael Young of Medford, Ore., breathed a grateful sigh of relief as he received word that multiple, stacked felony sex abuse charges against him had been dismissed.

Young was charged with Rape 1, Sodomy 1, Sex Abuse 2 and 3, and Assault 4 on March 21. Young wasted no time; on March 29, he contacted the US~Observer, and we began our investigation regarding the charges against him.

History 

Young married his wife, Jennifer, in the summer of 2011. At that time, he had no idea that her daughter had severe mental problems. Unbeknownst to Young, his new stepdaughter had previously accused her biological father of sex abuse, resulting in his suicide. Evidence suggests that the sex abuse at the hands of her biological father never occurred.

Soon after Michael and Jennifer were married, the couple moved to Medford with his family so they could care for his elderly parents. Young’s stepdaughter’s mental illness immediately began to surface and quickly escalated into false accusations of sex abuse — accusations that were easily disproven, as some things could not have even taken place.

The very sick stepdaughter’s false accusations soon reached the ears of Medford Police Detective Diane Sandler and Department of Human Services caseworker Angie Albiar. Like two vicious pit bulls, these so-called “professionals” started their attack. As written in our previous article on Young, these two women “overlooked lie after lie coming from Michael’s stepdaughter, as they coached her, groomed her, and then tailored her castle of lies.” Albiar and Sandler failed to conduct any valid investigation whatsoever before sending their lies to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office for formal charges.

Through the hard work of US~Observer investigative reporters and his legal representation, Young’s innocence was proven in the court of public opinion and accepted by Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert and Terry Smith-Norton, the assigned deputy district attorney. They showed their integrity by dismissing the case for lack of evidence. However, this was not a case of it being dismissed because it couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This was a case where Young’s actual innocence could be established by the evidence, and they knew they couldn’t win — especially against a strong defense.

Young’s support system, defense investigators and legal team were poised to establish that the allegations were false, should this case have gone to trial. Renowned sex-abuse attorney Richard Cohen conducted flawless defense strategies for Young and communicated these with Smith-Norton in a highly professional and tactful manner.

To the credit of the deputy district attorney, she reportedly painstakingly investigated the case. This was critical because the Department of Human Services and the other investigating agencies involved failed to engage in an objective investigation. Smith- Norton interviewed numerous witnesses, including the child herself, and came to the correct conclusion that the State could not prove Young committed the charged acts. The US~Observer, along with Young, his family, supporters and his legal team, were thrilled to learn that justice prevailed in this case and that Young was vindicated from these heinous allegations.

The real moral to this story is very simple: When police and the DHS rush to judgment and falsely arrest an innocent person for crimes he did not commit, that person had better make sure he retains the professionals who are capable of vindicating him. Above all, public exposure is imperative, especially when false sex-abuse allegations are made.

Again, the US~Observer commends Cohen for his excellent legal representation of Young. And again, this writer personally commends Heckert and Smith-Norton for serving justice.

–Edward Snook