Monday, August 20, 2018

CYBERWARS: Super Duper Tribute to George Webb XVI -- The JTTF diaries

In order to become a master of an argument, one must master all of its brilliant facets.

We still have this thing called due process so the art of rallying up the pitchforks and torches in a tweet, how about pulling in an arbitrator of law.

Law enforcement does what it does because they do what they do, enforce the law.

If you suspect any wrongdoing, whether it be violent or financial crimes, report it to the police and elected representative.

Otherwise, it is probably up for scrutiny.

This is what I call #cyberwars because the next black psyop is going to be massive and it is going after the credibility of child welfare fraud.

You know what I am talking about.

Heed my words....I know who the target is....

Enjoy the show.



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The Flint Water Targeted Populations Murder Trial Is Off And Running

I truly hope everyone understands that there are multiple layers to this entire investigation that takes us from Flint, to D.C. right back here to Detroit.

I see Todd, but where is Andy?

Hey, Andy, whacha doin'?

Judge: Michigan health chief Lyon heads to trial on Flint crisis manslaughter charges

Lead special prosecutor Todd Flood, right, talks with special prosecutor Paul Stablein before the preliminary examination hearing starts at 67th District Court in Flint on Aug. 20, 2018.Flint — Michigan health and welfare chief Nick Lyon will stand trial on felony charges including involuntary manslaughter related to the Flint water crisis, a judge ruled Monday.

67th District Court Judge David Goggins made the announcement in a nearly 160-minute ruling from the bench after delaying the decision more than three weeks in the most anticipated Flint water prosecution case.

Lyon will go to trial on two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of misconduct in office connected to the Flint region's 2014-2015 Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened another 79 people. No public notice about the outbreak was given until Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement in mid-January 2016 at a hastily arranged press conference in Detroit.

Lyon "had the ability" to know how many Legionnaires' disease deaths there were in the Flint area and has the "power" as the state's health chief to protect lives and "enforce laws" to that end, the judge ruled, citing prosecution witnesses including retired state epidemiologist Corinne Miller.
Goggins found that Lyon knew about the outbreak in 2015.

Special Prosecutor Todd Flood recently added a misdemeanor charge of "willful neglect" to protect the health of Genesee County residents, but Goggins on Monday appeared to dismiss the charge. He spoke faintly, and courtroom spectators strained at times to hear what he was saying.

If convicted, Lyon could face up to 30 years in prison on the manslaughter charges and up to another five years on the misconduct charge. Up to $25,000 in fines could be added for the three charges. 
Goggins was in no hurry to make a decision. Reading from a yellow notepad full of notes, he read from each and every page.

The judge covered every person from the more than 20 prosecution witnesses, from state health officials to the relatives of elderly Flint area residents Richard Skidmore and John Snyder, whom the prosecution say died from Legionnaire's disease that Lyon failed to warn the public about.

To send a case to trial for a jury to consider, the judge must decide whether there’s probable cause that a "reasonable person, based on the evidence, could find the defendant guilty," Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning said.

Lyon walked into court with his wife more than a half an hour before the hearing was scheduled to start, hugging family members and then sitting down with his wife on a bench outside the courtroom. The hearing started 45 minutes late.

Among those in the courtroom were former state Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, and former Snyder Community Health Director James Haveman, who has supported Lyon.

The preliminary exam involved 10 months of testimony — starting last September with prosecution witnesses and then this spring with defense witnesses.

Prosecutors contended Lyon should have warned the public of the Flint region's Legionnaires' disease outbreak and could have saved lives.

The defense lawyers countered that Lyon runs a department of 14,000 employees and relied on the expertise of department employees, none of whom recommended issuing a public warning. They also argued the prosecution failed to make any connection between Lyon and the men's deaths, arguing they died from long-term diseases but not Legionnaires'.

Because Skidmore and Snyder went to McLaren hospital in Flint, where medical officials had been warned about Legionnaires' disease, a public announcement wouldn’t have prevented their deaths, the defense said.

Former state-appointed Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose already has skipped his preliminary exam and will go straight to trial.

Michigan Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells and four current and former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality regulators are still going through their preliminary exams after being charged criminally. No date has been set for Wells' bind-over ruling.

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Baby LK's Top 10 CPS Horror Stories of the Week - Some of my new favorite Mug Shots - 8-19-2018

Baby LK is back to report on the horrors of the Child Protection Industry, as an original source.

For all the latest dirt on the Child Protection Industry, go to http://legallykidnapped.com.

For more in depth analysis of CPS, go to http://cpsfiles.blogspot.com/.

Just remember, it can happen to you.



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DEFANGO: Cyberstalking the Russia Narrative - DEFNEWS 08/20/2018

DEFNEWS reports on #cyberwars, directly from the battlefield of the internet.

Keep up to date on the latest propaganda attacks as legal defense strategies in the ongoing investigations up on Capitol Hill, all over the nation, the world.


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Cocktails & Popcorn: Did Michael Cohen Forge Trump's Name For Some Money?

Image result for popcorn and taxis
"Enough fun treats for everyone
who sucks at Perkins Coie"

It looks like Michael Cohen was doing some of those Corporate Shape Shifter moves and it also looks like he was bribing certain individuals to approve loans for his taxi business that was tanking from Uber and Lyft dominating the markets.


Below, are the National Credit Union Administration charges with Melrose Credit Union that mentions forgery.

Whose name was Michael Cohen forging?

I am going to go out their on a limb...just grab some at straws...holding my breath...taking a shot in the dark and make a wild, random, guess that he was forging the name of Donald J. Trump, but hey, what do I know?

I know I would definitely try some Checker Cab milk chocolate caramel crunch popcorn with a tall black of coffee!

They like to forge and lie alot up in D.C.

That, I do know.

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen faces $20M fraud probe

U.S. authorities investigating whether President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, committed bank and tax fraud are focusing on more than $20 million of loans obtained by taxi businesses owned by him and his family, the New York Times reported.

Federal investigators are also looking at whether Cohen violated campaign finance or other laws by helping arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women claiming they had affairs with Trump, the paper said, citing people familiar with the matter. The inquiry has entered the final stage and prosecutors were considering filing charges by the end of the month, the paper said, citing two of the people.

The total of the bank loans under scrutiny hasn’t been previously reported. The loans came from Sterling National Bank and the Melrose Credit Union, two financial institutions in the New York region that have catered to the taxi industry, the Times said. The paper cited business records and people with knowledge of the matter, including a banker who reviewed the transactions.

Federal investigators in New York are seeking to determine whether Cohen misrepresented the value of his assets to obtain the loans, the paper said.

Cohen and his lawyers declined to comment on the investigation, the Times said. Federal officials in New York and Washington also wouldn’t comment, it said.

Former Melrose CU CEO Says NCUA Charges Part of a 'Cover Up'

Alan Kaufman speaks with CU Times Wednesday and says he hopes to reveal the real story behind the allegations.


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DOJ: Wells Fargo Pays $2.09 Billion For Mortgage Fraud - No Word Yet On Child Welfare Fraud

If Wells Fargo was found to have misrepresented their quality of mortgage loans, then, just perhaps, Wells Fargo may be found to have also misrepresented their quality of administrative contracts for Social Security Administration electronic payments to "The Poors" (always said with clinched teeth.)

See, there are lots of foster kids who have aged out or emancipated out of foster care, where the Social Supplemental Income monthly disability grant is all they have to live from on the streets.

Many of these youth, living in group homes, may only have, by law, $40 a month, with a transaction back fee for each time they use their cards to pick up a pop and bag of chips for a fleeting moment of comfort from their lives of hell in an Adult Foster Care setting.

Many of these youth, living in boarding homes, may only have after paying for room and board, only $300 a month, where there is a fee for each cash withdraw to take the bus to the food pantry or their monthly 5 minute psychiatric medication review appointment.

Many of these youth are homeless, ending up to be, what the latest buzz term is, "victims of human trafficking", which is just a watered down version of these youth having to resort to prostitution to eat because the culture of privatization, or what I like to call, the residuals of the peculiar institution, once they age out of foster care, which included juvenile justice.

Then, it must is an absolute to complete the anagogic process to understanding this particular child welfare fraud scheme, by asking yourself.....how many of these SSI payments and mortgages are granted under fake identities of kids who were legally kidnapped, but are all grown up, or dead, on paper, now?

Anyway, like I have always said, selling chattel is the oldest form of survival for kids to reach their fullest potential, even if it is a few transaction fees at a time.

Wells Fargo Agrees to Pay $2.09 Billion Penalty for Allegedly Misrepresenting Quality of Loans Used in Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities

The Justice Department announced today that Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and several of its affiliates (Wells Fargo) will pay a civil penalty of $2.09 billion under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) based on the bank’s alleged origination and sale of residential mortgage loans that it knew contained misstated income information and did not meet the quality that Wells Fargo represented. Investors, including federally insured financial institutions, suffered billions of dollars in losses from investing in residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) containing loans originated by Wells Fargo.  
“This settlement holds Wells Fargo accountable for actions that contributed to the financial crisis,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. “It sends a strong message that the Department is committed to protecting the nation’s economy and financial markets against fraud.”  
“Abuses in the mortgage-backed securities industry led to a financial crisis that devastated millions of Americans,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Alex G. Tse. “Today’s agreement holds Wells Fargo responsible for originating and selling tens of thousands of loans that were packaged into securities and subsequently defaulted. Our office is steadfast in pursuing those who engage in wrongful conduct that hurts the public.” 
FIRREA authorizes the federal government to seek civil penalties against financial institutions that violate various predicate criminal offenses, including wire and mail fraud. The United States alleged that, in 2005, Wells Fargo began an initiative to double its production of subprime and Alt-A loans. As part of that initative, Wells Fargo loosened its requirements for originating stated income loans – loans where a borrower simply states his or her income without providing any supporting income documentation.  
To evaluate the integrity of its increasing volume of stated income loans, Wells Fargo subjected a sample of these loans to “4506-T testing.” A 4506-T form is a government document signed by the borrower during the loan approval process that allows the lender to obtain the borrower’s tax transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 4506-T testing involves comparing the tax transcripts of the borrower with the income stated on the loan application. Wells Fargo implemented 4506-T testing on two of its programs. This testing revealed that more than 70% of the loans that Wells Fargo sampled had an “unacceptable” variance (greater than 20% discrepancy between the borrower’s stated income and the income information reflected in the borrower’s most recent tax returns filed with the IRS), and the average variance was approximately 65%. After receiving these results, Wells Fargo conducted further internal testing. This additional testing, performed by quality assurance analysts, was designed to determine if “plausible” explanations existed for the “unacceptable” variances over 20%. This additional step revealed that nearly half of the stated income loans that Wells Fargo tested had both an unacceptable variance and the absence of a plausible explanation for that variance.  
The results of Wells Fargo’s 4506-T testing were disclosed in internal monthly reports, which were widely distributed among Wells Fargo employees. One Wells Fargo employee in risk management observed that the “4506-T results are astounding” yet “instead of reacting in a way consistent with what is being reported WF [Wells Fargo] is expanding stated [income loan] programs in all business lines.” 
The United States alleged that, despite its knowledge that a substantial portion of its stated income loans contained misstated income, Wells Fargo failed to disclose this information, and instead reported to investors false debt-to-income ratios in connection with the loans it sold. Wells Fargo also allegedly heralded its fraud controls while failing to disclose the income discrepancies its controls had identified. The United States further alleged that Wells Fargo took steps to insulate itself from the risks of its stated income loans, by screening out many of these loans from its own loan portfolio held for investment and by limiting its liability to third parties for the accuracy of its stated income loans. Wells Fargo sold at least 73,539 stated income loans that were included in RMBS between 2005 to 2007, and nearly half of those loans have defaulted, resulting in billions of dollars in losses to investors.  
The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort between the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, with investigative support from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General. 
The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no admission of liability.

Fun With Fraud:  Wells Fargo, Child Poverty & The Social Security Trust Fund

This particular piece goes back a few months, but I just through it would be fund to my 2 cents into the mix by reminding everyone that Wells Fargo has those administrative contracts with SNAP, Child Support, TANF and those Social Security electronic payment cards.

Yup, there is major fraud in those child welfare programs and no one is talking about it.

The scheme goes like this:

Wells Fargo charges HHS lots of money to make sure "everyone granted eligible" ((that is code for "The Poors" (always said with clinched teeth")) gets their benefits.

Wells Fargo charges fees for each transaction when "The Poors" (always said with clinched teeth) use their governmental issued Wells Fargo electronic benefits card.

The fee is deducted from the monthly benefits.

The fee is not part of the administrative contract, and quite frankly, I have no clue what happens to those fees.

So, what happens to those left over pennies when the local ATM refuses to dispense the granted benefits of Social Supplemental Income payments?

One would assume Wells Fargo is "investing in improving quality control" (code word for 'stealin') in its Wells Fargo Housing Foundation for its Philanthropic Services Private Foundations but we shall never truly know unless we as Nancy Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

Acting Commissioner means she is not going to be there much longer, either.
Guiding Social Security Into The Next 80 Years:   A Conversation With Carolyn W, Colvin

In June 2014, the Obama administration nominated Carolyn W. Colvin to head the Social Security Administration (SSA). She has been serving as Acting Commissioner since February 2013, and, in August 2015, she will be on hand to observe the agency’s 80th anniversary. Colvin came out of retirement in 2010 to be the SSA’s Deputy Commissioner, and embodies so many of the characteristics and values older workers possess—she has formidable intelligence and experience, is calm under pressure and is thoroughly engaged in her work.


Robert Blancato, an ASA Board member who has previously worked with Colvin in Washington, D.C., interviewed her in late April about anti-fraud efforts, Social Security’s solvency and more.

Robert Blancato (RB): You are aggressively pursuing fraud cases. What programs are in place to prevent financial elder abuse, and how common a problem is it?

Carolyn Colvin (CC): The Social Security Administration [SSA] serves some of the most vulnerable individuals, not just the aged, but children and disabled people. Protecting seniors is a top priority. Financial exploitation is now an epidemic, and we are approaching it as we would a health epidemic, by joining forces with multiple agencies (we’re working with Kathy Greenlee at the Administration on Aging [AOA]) and finding ways to work collaboratively. SSA has always had zero tolerance for fraud, and [we] will tirelessly identify and prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, anyone who commits fraud.

Quite simply, people receiving Social Security benefits are targets. When beneficiaries are incapable of managing their finances, SSA appoints a family member or friend to manage their benefits for them. We conduct annual accounting reviews for those individuals to see if benefits are being properly used. We still find it’s a critical issue [in that] we see some [benefits] misuse and fraud of our beneficiaries. We have two pilot projects to recruit and train representative payees so they have the skills and capacity to identify financial abuse, and to make sure we are selecting the right individuals to be representative payees. We’re partnering with local agencies to identify representative payees, and using a multi-disci-plinary training model to teach them how to understand and recognize abuse. This is a collaborative effort with the AOA, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Corporation for National and Community Service, plus NAPSA [National Adult Protective Services Association] and the banking community, specifically Wells Fargo.

Social Security acting commissioner leaving amid cloud of corruption probes
MADISON, Wis. – Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin has announced she is stepping down.
You’ll excuse whistleblower employees of the scandal-plagued federal agency for not shedding any tears at Colvin’s departure.
“I’m ecstatic about it,” said one employee in the SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, or ODAR, division. The employee, a whistleblower, asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.
In a “Farewell Message” email last week to Social Security Administration staff members, Colvin wrote that she has advised President Barack Obama that she will be leaving her position as acting commissioner at the end of the president’s term on Friday.
“I have devoted my life to public service, serving in positions at all levels of government, but serving here with all of you has been the greatest honor of my life,” Colvin wrote. “The times I have treasured the most are the times I have been able to visit your offices to speak with you about the important work we do, and about your dreams and aspirations.  Those are some of my most joyous and inspirational times at SSA. You are truly the greatest public servants in government.”
STEPPING DOWN: Acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Carolyn Colvin told her employees last week that she is stepping down when President Barack Obama leaves office Friday.
In June 2014, Obama nominated Colvin to lead the agency, which boasts some 65,000 employees and is projected this year to pay out $1 trillion in federal benefits to 68.4 million recipients.

Senate Republicans blocked the appointment amid a “cloud hanging over” Colvin’s nomination. She had assumed the acting commissioner post in February 2013.
The Social Security Administration has been hammered by one negative report after another. A $300 million computer project failed. Designed to help hasten the process of disability claims, an audit found the program could handle just 700 of the millions of claims. Colvin’s defenders say the computer program was initiated under former SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, Colvin’s predecessor. Republicans, however, questioned whether SSA top administrators misled or withheld information from Congress about the scope of the problem.
The Government Accountability Office in 2013 estimated some 36,000 people picked up a combined $1.3 billion in erroneous payments over two years.
Colvin’s tenure has included many of the same problems that have afflicted the agency for some time, most notably the massive backlog of Social Security disability benefit claims.
As Wisconsin Watchdog reported in May, whistleblower Ron Klym, a long-time case worker at the Milwaukee Office of Disability Adjudication and Review alleged grave due process violations in the system. Klym, who was fired in August, claims ODAR facilities operated “shell games” to make their processing numbers better than they were. He accused management of discrimination, harassment, retaliation and other incidents of misconduct.
Whistleblowers allege a “culture of corruption” at the Madison ODAR facility. An administrative law judge recently retired under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations. The hearing office director and another manager were removed from the office. Whistleblowers accuse management of bribery, nepotism, fraud, and retaliation, among other charges.
Sources say the SSA’s Office of Inspector General, which has been investigating the allegations for months, is preparing criminal and administrative reports on the probes.
Whistleblowers have reported misconduct allegations in SSA offices from West Virginia to California.
“I think she’s getting out while she can,” one whistleblower said of Colvin’s departure under a cloud of scandal.
In her farewell letter, Colvin told Social Security Administration employees they can be proud of numerous accomplishments “which represent our shared legacy.”
“Remember, each day, thousands and thousands of individuals may experience, for even a moment, hope, and if we are lucky, a better life, because of something you have been able to do for them,” the outgoing acting commissioner wrote.
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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Super Duper Tribute to George Webb VII - Investigating The Investigator - The Death Of Task Force Jenny Moore

Verifying the process, just to make sure everything is documented.

Always document.

Always question.

This is dealing with child welfare, an area only I possess the subject matter mastery as the original source.

I watch everything because I celebrate Child Abuse Propaganda Month every April, since its inception into their construction of social thought.

Let the #cyberwars commence.

I am from Detroit.


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Friday, August 17, 2018

This Is What Means To Be Keeper Of The Record - Detroit Free Press, Wayne County Deeds & The Quantum Renaissance Of Detroit Civil Rights

This is an extremely, very well constructed and written journalism.

This is the quality of reporting that is worthy of the title of keeper of the record.

This is Pulitzer Prize level writing.

This is devoid of poverty shaming.

This demonstrates a mastery of the subject matter.

Proper locations were noted, with, I must direct attention to, Google Maps interactives, visual histograms, timelines, balanced interviews and narratives with principle authorities and original sources, like neighbors, homeowners, victims, elected and authoritative officials representing Wayne County, Wayne State University and University of Michigan-Dearborn, all in District.

[I went to all those schools. (snicker) I wonder what they said about me.]

The use of public resources, the likes of corporate filings and County Register of Deeds recordings, laid out another wonderful visual for one to follow through the chain of command in ownership, whether broken or distorted as a corporate shape shifter.

I found much joy with the use of the Limited Liability Company as a cursory working model of real property schemes.

This is "submission of evidence" worthy.

Now, this is the point where I must interject by throwing my two cents into the mix.

I believe I have previously covered this, but currently, I am so moved by this cogently documented moment of Detroit history, I shall reiterate one of my favorite tales of the Corporate Shape Shifters.

(The names of the LLC's have been changed to protect my future claims.)

Once upon a time, there was a LLC in Idaho named ABC Properties which was listed on a Quit Claim Deed for 123 Elm St. in Wayne County Register of Deeds.

The ABC Properties took out a mortgage on 123 Elm St. and defaulted, where it ended up at the Wayne County Sheriff's sale.

Waiting in the auditorium for the Wayne County auction, 123 Elm St. was never called to auction.

Then, a new Quit Claim Deed magically appears in the Wayne County Register of Deeds as ABC Properties, LLC, registered as a domestic, or perhaps as seen in some instances as a foreign entity, in the State of Michigan, where another mortgage is taken out on 123 Elm St.

Some time later, the Detroit Land Bank Authority swoops in to file a Quiet Title action, wiping out all outstanding liens, mortgages and taxes, only to sell it to another LLC, in the same, exact "switch-o-change-o" out of state/in state Corporate Shape Shifter fraud scheme.

But, since there was no mention the Detroit Land Bank Authority, I am going to giddily assume that it is recognized as never existing, so I am not going there.

Thank you, Allie.  You are a burst of brilliant reality to your profession.  This report is bad ass.

Time to step your games up, keepers of the record.

I want this stuff blockchained.

Detroit real estate game creates chaos in neighborhoods


PROPERTY SPECULATION BRINGS DYSFUNCTION TO DETROIT'S HOUSING MARKET, EXACERBATING BLIGHT AND INSTABILITY IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS.


Felicia Anderson shook her head as she looked at an outdated photo of 17529 Kentfield.
The gray, ranch-style bungalow was visible from the 59-year-old’s bedroom window. She saw it every day. But it had been years since she glimpsed at it as it once was: well-kept and thoughtfully trimmed. A home.

“Eli took care of it. Inside and out,” Anderson said as she looked at the Google Street View image from 2013, back when Eli Brown, her sister’s ex, lived in the northwest Detroit house. “He kept it up.” 
This house is at 17529 Kentfield St. in Detroit.





It's easy to write off such conditions as a thing of Detroit's past. A so-called pre-renaissance problem.

The aftermath of Detroit’s economic downturn. A byproduct of middle-class flight from the city, disinvestment and the subprime mortgage crisis.

The chain of title on Kentfield, however, highlights a more recent and concrete undoing. First, cash-poor Detroiters lose their homes in the annual Wayne County tax foreclosure auction. Then, hands-off speculators swoop in and either "rent" the houses back to those who lost them, using predatory schemes that often lead to evictions and cycles of instability, or, as is more common, the speculators just sit on them.

The end result:
  • Blocks of homes rot as investors wait for a fabled payout.
  • Home values for Detroiters in the neighborhoods plummet.
  • A dysfunctional housing market is created where one home can fetch anything from $500 to $51,000 — with no consistency or logic.
There are no clear winners. Just chaos.

Kentfield exemplifies this trend: From 2012 — when Brown lost the house to tax foreclosure and then signed a rent-to-own land contract before eventually being evicted — to present day, 17529 Kentfield swapped hands eight times. In those six years, it landed in the portfolios of speculators in California and Illinois and even back in the tax auction in 2016.

With each transaction, passing year and repackaging of the property —  the home was often bundled with others — the house deteriorated. Its value declined.

Kentfield is one 23 properties the Detroit Free Press studied this past spring to better understand property speculation and its impact on Detroit neighborhoods. To come up with a sample group, the Free Press focused on one out-of-state speculator — Los Angeles LLC Elite Value Properties — and tracked the properties in its portfolio. The study revealed a complex system in which homes swapped hands in various bundles and newfangled arrangements with the ease and familiarity one normally associates with balancing a checkbook or filling up a tank of gas.


Of the group, 20 were lost to tax foreclosure in 2012 and three in 2013.

While 78 percent of the properties appeared to be occupied in 2011, according to an analysis of Google Map images, 78 percent were either abandoned, demolished or burned down this spring when the Free Press visited the properties.

Additionally, of the 23 homes, 60 percent ended up back in the auction because none of the speculators paid property taxes on the houses they purchased. (Homes are foreclosed and placed in the auction after three years of unpaid property taxes.)

While the auction — which is required by law — is billed as a tool to reactivate abandoned spaces and recoup revenue, the opposite happened to this set of homes.  

See the houses and details of transactions by clicking on the map below:
"The Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction is one of the greatest destabilizing forces in Detroit," said Joshua Akers, assistant professor of Geography and Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, who in 2016 launched the website Property Praxis to document speculation in the city.

"The auction is the perfect way to gamble. If a bet doesn't pay off in three years, all you lost is the initial purchase price," he continued. "At least that's the speculative perspective. There is a much higher cost for the neighborhoods."

According to Akers, the Free Press study and his own research underscore an often-ignored truth: Blight is an active process caused by people, policies and economic interests, rather than the passive phenomenon it’s often made out to be.

“We often think of decline as a slow process," he said. "But what’s actually happening is people and agents engaging in different practices like speculation that contribute to the decay we see."

Back by Kentfield Street, this is hard to ignore. Loved and cared-for homes — tended to as recently as 2013 — are now not only empty but liabilitiesfor neighborhoods.

“I don’t want to live across the street from another abandoned house,” Anderson said with a sigh, pointing to the half-dozen neglected nooks and recently demolished plots that surrounded the home she rents. 

A closer look at speculation

Land speculation is not unique to Detroit.

"It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance of land greed in American history," historian R. Kent Newmyer wrote in 2007, pointing to the fact that for "the better part of two centuries" the idea of "cheap land" attracted millions of immigrants to the country — specifically those traveling west in pursuit of Manifest Destiny.  <=== Oh, no, she did not go there!!!

"It was fought over by the rich and powerful to see who could get the most and the best. It was fought for by the poor, who wanted a little piece of the action and who, unlike the large buyers and sellers, were willing to put their lives on the line to get it."

Detroit today is just a new manifestation of a long American pursuit. What makes the city remarkable, however, is the sheer number of homes available. In 2007, the height of the mortgage meltdown, 5 percent of Detroit's homes were repossessed — the highest rate in the nation. Between 2002 and 2016, 143,958 properties landed in the tax auction.

The elevated numbers, cheap prices and the ease by which homes can be purchased — with the click of a mouse via the online auction — have conspired to create a chaotic reality.

Between 2005 and 2015, speculative investors accounted for 90 percent of all purchases in the Wayne County Tax Auction, according to Akers and Eric Seymour, a postdoctoral research assistant at Brown University who co-authored a 2016 paper on the consequences of speculative bulk buying.


To conduct their study, the duo defined speculator as: A person (or LLC) with three or more parcels in an area in which the owner does not have a taxable address; a person with a large number of parcels in varying conditions and disuse; a person with a single vacant or abandoned property but with an out­-of-­state or international address; a person with a residential property that serves as a taxable address for multiple owners with three or more holdings in the city.

Akers said he has since reassessed the definition and changed the first and last requirement to a person with five or more properties. It has not made a drastic difference, as roughly 40 percent of the properties purchased between 2005 and 2015 were by bulk buyers of 50 or more properties.

While most people, according to Akers, like to focus on the visual consequences of a neighborhood's decline, the instigators — speculative investors engaging in a steady and continuous swapping of capital and titles — often go under the radar.

“What looks to us like a slow decay of vacant and abandoned property that’s static is actually moving quite quickly in financial markets around the world. Capital is changing hands all the time, titles are changing hands all the time,” Akers told Michigan Radio in a 2016 interview. “The friction from that, the outcome of that are the conditions we see in the city.”

And those outcomes, according to Akers, manifest in two forms: vacant properties left to sit fallow, and/or predatory rent-to-own land contracts in which the prospective buyer has a high likelihood of eventual eviction.

While 18 of the 23 homes that the Free Press tracked are currently empty — the first option — many, at some point, fell victim to the latter. 

The trouble with land contracts

Eighteen of the 23  were originally purchased in the foreclosure auction by Benjigates Estates, a local real estate company that has since shuttered but utilized the land-contract model.

Benjigatesbought thousands of properties in the auction and then "sold" them — often to former owners — with rent-to-own land contracts in which  the renter would be responsible for paying both monthly payments (often referred to as rent) and the property taxes.

In a 2013 profile in Crain's, Benjigates' principals explained that because of the "market," they couldn't afford to pay taxes while also offering "prices feasible to low-income buyers."

For this reason, the principals explained, the company set contract periods of a year or a year and a half and once the buyerhad paid in full, gaining possession of a home's title, he or she had two years to pay the current and back taxes owed before the house went into foreclosure.


Nearly half of the homes Benjigates purchased were occupied, Antoine Hayes, Keith Hudson and Eugene Broadway, Benjigates' principals, explained.

The Free Press attempted to reach Benjigates via the company's Facebook page but did not hear back. The organization dissolved in 2016 following a court order, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

While the arrangement could be problematic for many buyers who already had lost their homes because of cash-flow problems, it had another complication.

Land contracts — a popular home buying tool in Detroit where mortgages have historically been hard to come by — have little protections for buyers.

"Land contracts can be so pernicious there is no filing requirement, there is just no regulation on them," explained Peter Hammer, director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School. "They can just exist in this completely private space, and almost no accountability for them."

While in 2017 there were efforts to draft legislation that would regulate land contracts, it never came to be, according to Lorray Brown, co-director of the Michigan Law Poverty Program, who was working on the provision.

"The draft legislation never made it out of the work-group meetings as there were a lot of oppositions from the industry folks," Brown wrote in an email this week, noting that she's seen a number of private investors purchasing uninhabitable and dilapidated foreclosed homes and selling them to consumers under land contracts.

"These land contracts are predatory because they are set up to fail," she wrote, explaining that the contracts often require consumers to take on all of the obligations of a homeowner with none of the rights.

"The terms of the contract require the consumer to fix up the property within a reasonable time. Then there is usually a provision that says if the consumer fails to comply with any of the provisions, the contract will convert to a month-to-month tenancy and the seller will terminate the contract. The seller then takes back the property through eviction and the consumer loses all of the money invested in repairing the property," Brown wrote.

This could be seen in the history of the house on Kentfield.

In 2012, Benjigates purchased the home at the tax auction for $1,350 (that year, the company bought 442 properties at auction, 129 of which they scored for the minimum bid of $500). Benjigates offered to sell Kentfield back to Eli Brown with a rent-to-own land contract. Brown agreed. But in July 2014, before he regained the title, he was evicted over an outstanding debt of $3,100 — a 129-percent increase in what Benjigates paid for the house at auction.

A year later — before the house could go back to auction for a lack of property tax payments — Benjigatessold the house to a company in Chico, California, in a bundle of 21 houses for the price of $5,000, or $238 per house.

At this point, the house's trajectory took a turn and went down the other path Akers describes: vacancy.

According to a 2015 report by Loveland Technologies, a data and mapping service, almost 1 in 6 of the occupied homes in the 2014 tax auction was vacant by fall 2015. Of those empty homes, 180 were considered demolition candidates. In short: Homes that were once occupied by people now not only sit empty but are considered dangerous eyesores.

"You have this auction, which was designed to either buttress the property market or get property taxes to produce revenue, but at the end of the day, it has actually further undermined both the effort to get public revenue and also to re-establish a property market because you have all these speculators and other people coming in just snatching up properties not out of need but on a belief that this market will somehow come back," said Hammer.

He pointed out that sale prices are often dictated by comparable home sale prices, a neighborhood, or schools in an area — but in the case of much of Detroit, they're often determined by arbitrary factors like the taxes owed.

"It hasn’t come back for most of the city," Hammer continued. "And therefore speculators can’t generate revenue. They’re not renting it necessarily. They’re not paying their taxes. And these properties just go through this cycle."

One buyer, 23 houses, little profit

William Joseph Whitaker has never been to 17529 Kentfield, but for one month in 2016, the Los Angeles resident owned it.

Benjigates  may highlight the rental path for a speculator, but Whitaker — the man behind Elite Value Properties — showcases the other trajectory: houses that just sit there.

In the fall of 2015, Whitaker traveled to Indianapolis for a two-day “field training” on property rentals with real estate guru Aaron Adams.

"We feel like US rental properties is the BEST investment you can use to create cash flow for your retirement," Adam’s company, Alpine Management, opined on its website at the time.

Whitaker didn’t need much convincing. He created his LLC at the seminar and purchased two homes from Adams that week. Upon returning to his own apartment in Los Angeles, a friend encouraged the then-50-year-old to scope out Detroit. It was, he remembers the friend saying, "hot."

He linked up with Dennis Elliott, one of the top owners of real estate in Detroit, who is behind Diversified Investment and Asset Management, two Chico, California-based LLCs.

Elliott had purchased several homes from Benjigates in December 2015, and in January 2016, Whitaker threw down just under $15,000 to buy the 22 houses from Elliott’s two LLCs and one from an LLC based in Jackson, Wyoming, according to the Wayne County Register of Deeds.

“I bought the properties for pennies on the dollar. I thought it was a good deal," he said.

In reality, they were mostly, he said, dumps.

"One had a tree growing inside. I bought them sight unseen,” Whitaker said by phone in January.
A month after his purchase, and realizing he was in over his head, Whitaker sold 20 of the 23 properties.

Kentfield was sold to a man and woman in Illinois, who bought 14 of the properties from Whitaker. The rest went to people in California, Tennessee and England.

The three remaining houses were in better shape, so Whitaker held on to them.

The home at 18906 Moross was eventually sold in June 2018 to a woman in Sugarland, Texas, for $14,500. The home at 12569 Glenfield was listed in January for $4,500 — with a memorable Zillow ad that noted a "friendly squatter" may be living inside. It ultimately fetched $2,500 in May — sold to a man in Maricopa, Arizona. The home at 21506 Orchard sold in December 2017 for $14,250. It was the only one of Whitaker's homes that was sold to an actual Detroiter.

“I’d never recommend anyone buying in Detroit, at least not residential investors," Whitaker said in January, noting that while he was able to sell some of the homes for decent prices, he had at one point hired a management company to try and rent out the houses (this was not successful) and had put money into some upkeep like "removing a squatter." Ultimately, there was no profit, he said.

"The only people doing well are the industrial investors who are buying large swaths of land,” Whitaker said, laughing at what felt like an absurd experiment on his part.

While Whitaker was happy to unload the properties, a look at the trajectory of many highlights the riskiness of the process. 

Months after Harold Fortner Jr. and Kathleen Kiska of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, purchased the properties from Whitaker, many were seized by Wayne County. Nobody over the years had been paying the property taxes. In fact, 60 percent of the homes in Whitaker's inventory ended up back at the auction.

The Free Press tried texting and calling multiple phone numbers associated with Fortner and Kiska but did not hear back.

When Kentfield was sold again in the 2016 auction, it was purchased for $701 — a nearly 95-percent decrease from its 2012 sale price.

Trying to track the actual value of the house is an impossible task as no coherent market exists — just hopes and dreams of what is and isn't possible.

"What we often see coming out of tax foreclosure and mortgage foreclosure is that bulk buyers are often preying on one another," said Akers. "I think it’s musical chairs. The last person without a chair is the one who got duped. There is a lot of shuffling. Speculator shuffling, then moving people into properties, out of properties."

Damaging neighborhoods

This house is at 9217 Bishop St. in Detroit.
Of course, it's not just speculators who lose. The residents of the neighborhoods — those who lack the most agency, financial capital and say in what occurs around them — have borne the biggest burden: blight and exploitation.

While Kentfield is a good example of how the auction and speculation conspire to breed blight and dysfunction, it is only one of many damaged streets.

Driving around Detroit — east side, west side — the conditions are the same.


Take 9217 Bishop St. 
Bishop Street is only 11 miles east of Campus Martius in downtown Detroit. But it might as well be in another city.

On an airless Wednesday afternoon John Dillon, 80, sat in front of his house talking with Andre Moore, a former neighbor and now friend.

Moore had moved to the neighborhood — on Yorkshire Street, a block over — in 1987. His was, he said, the third black family to move to the block.

“I left in 1997, and when I left, every house had people in it,” Moore said from Dillon’s stoop. Kitty-corner, and just in view, is 9217 Bishop, one of the 23 homes that, at one point, ended up in the hands of Whitaker.

In 2008, the house was lost to mortgage foreclosure over a $98,174 debt and ended up in the hands of Aurora Loan Services.

Aurora Loan Services sold the house to SD Associates by quit claim deed, for an undisclosed sum, and that same year, SD Associates sold the house to a buyer for $3,499.

That buyer lost the home to tax foreclosure in 2012, though Aurora Loan Services was the name on the foreclosure notices. And Benjigates purchased the house at the 2012 Wayne County Tax Auction for $500.

In June 2015, the Detroit Land Bank went before Judge Robert Colombo asking that he declare the house a nuisance. But this did not deter Benjigates, in December 2015, from selling the house to Elliott's Asset Management in a bundle of 21 homes for $5,000 ($238 per house).

In January 2016, Asset Management sold the house to Elite Value Properties in a bundle of eight houses for $4,000 ($500 per house). In February 2016, Elite sold the house to Fortner and Kiska for an undisclosed sum in a quit claim deed. In February 2018, Judge Colombo ordered the property be taken over by the Detroit Land Bank. Last month, the Detroit Land Bank sold the property to an individual buyer for $1,900.

These granular details and transactions are almost irrelevant to Dillon — who goes by "Pops" — and Moore. While there is hope that someone like the new buyer can actually reactivate the space, what they see, right now, is abandonment.

Abandonment that feels like quicksand. It is nearly impossible to stop the trend once it’s started. 
“I can’t leave because I can’t afford to,” said Dillon, who purchased his house 25 years ago when the neighborhood was still bustling.

He pays $700 a month on his mortgage, which he is “just about” done with. Then he will own the house in full. A house that when he bought it — in a then-diverse and densely populated neighborhood — had value.

“I was born and raised in Detroit and I cry when I see this,” said Dillon. “A whole block of lots and every other  one  is mowed. Take it away from the people who are just holding on and sitting on it. The people who are playing. They should have to pay to tear it down.”

Moore, who now lives in Southfield, nodded as “Pops” spoke.

This house is at 13224 Hubbell Ave. in Detroit.
“I feel sad, sad knowing how it was. How it used to work,” the 46-year-old said. “It was beautiful.”

Across town, the people may be different, but blocks, houses and stories sound eerily similar.

If Cynthia Brown and her brother KB craned their heads, they could see 14923 Hubbell,  another property picked up by Benjigates in the 2012 auction for $500. 


Like Kentfield and Bishop, the Hubbell house was passed along in the same bundle of 21 properties from Benjigates to Elliott in Chico and then on to Whitaker in Los Angeles, and then, eventually, to Fortner and Kiska in Illinois. 
Like Kentfield, nobody paid property taxes on the house. In the fall of 2016, it was sold in the auction for $500 to Brian Pepper. In November, Pepper sold the house to Florida-based Lima & Charlie Business Investments for $51,000.

The high sale price — an almost mythical figure — is what attracts so many to the speculator game. But despite the elevated sale price, the house is still an eyesore. It still stands vacant.

"What a market does is it provides some sort of private ordering. It gives value. You are matching, in theory, supply and demand. People who want something and someone willing to sell something," said Hammer, the WSU law professor, synthesizing the situation.

"When you have this absence of a market, it’s an environment for just random and bizarre things to take place with a theme of exploitation and pipe dreams of making money off housing."

Brown and KB didn’t know about the California companies that had owned the house or the Florida investment company that had just bought it.

What they did know was that RD Ware, KB’s best friend, had owned the home. When Ware died, his stepson started to take care of the house. Then it was lost to tax foreclosure.

The home is clearly abandoned today. Plywood serves as a door or a barrier, depending on who you are. The once delicate flowers that grew out front are gone.

But the grass outside is cut.

This, according to Brown, is because the neighbors next door refuse to let it get out of control.
“The couple next door pay to have the grass cut, to make it look lived in,” Brown said. “To keep the neighborhood going.”

Protecting the most vulnerable

Getting a handle on the chaos caused by speculation is difficult.

In January 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that prohibits individuals with a foreclosed property or delinquent taxes from bidding in the auction. Land contracts, which put the taxes on the tenant, however, give bulk buyers, speculators, an out.

More notably, many are buying under LLCs and so the issue of being associated with a foreclosed property is harder to come to light. One needs to just register a new LLC and continue to bid, under the radar.

The result of the auction and speculation have drastically altered the makeup of Detroit.
Black homeownership peaked in Detroit in 2000 with 144,571 units, according to Akers and Seymour. By 2015 that share fell by 46 percent to 95,506 units.

“As oversimplifying as it is, there are two Detroits," Akers said of downtown rising and neighborhoods deteriorating. "I don’t really know how you debate that.”

The Wayne County Treasurer's Office points to the declining number of occupied houses in the auction as evidence of a new direction that the office has taken since Eric Sabree was appointed in April 2016.

The county went from 28,000 foreclosures in 2015 to less than 7,000 this year.

"The Wayne County Treasurer is always focused on doing what he can to improve stability in neighborhoods and reducing foreclosures, down to zero if possible," Mario Morrow, spokesperson for Sabree said, noting that Sabree is bound, by law, to hold an auction every year.

In terms of the allowance of speculators partaking in the auction, Morrow says Sabree's  hands are tied. While all auction participants must sign an affidavit, which includes a promise that nobody listed as a grantee on the deed has delinquent property taxes, beyond this, Morrow says, it's hard to monitor.

"The Wayne County Treasurer's Office doesn’t have the resources, financial or human, to police thousands of properties that are sold in the auction. Input from the community is appreciated in that regard. So, yes, the Treasurer and the office care but cannot, on their own, resolve all concerns.

Legally, speculators are allowed to purchase as long as they’ve followed the rules," Morrow said.
As of July, there were 3,959 structures and lots on the county's foreclosure list — a list that if nothing changes over this month, will be indicative of what is up for grabs in the 2018 Wayne County Tax Auction, which starts next month.

The county did not provide occupancy stats in its list, but Loveland Technologies did an analysis and found 1,866 unoccupied structures, 1,405 occupied structures, 419  vacant lots and 269 unknowns. 
Back on Detroit's northwest side, Anderson was happy: 17529 Kentfield had sold for a second time since it landed in the 2016 Wayne County Tax Auction.

The house was still boarded up but there were four cars in the empty lot next to it, and — most notably — signs of life. A motorcycle, two lawnmowers, two BBQs and piles of trash were scattered across the front lawn.

An older couple, Anderson said, had bought it. They were, she said, clearing it out. 
There was hope that after the four years since Eli Brown had been kicked out, a new, stable and permanent neighbor would return.

"They're taking the debris out," Anderson said with a smile. "I'm just glad someone got it."

Contact Allie Gross: AEGross@freepress.com. Follow Allie on Twitter @Allie_Elisabeth.

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Cocktails & Popcorn: Detroit Grand Jury Probe On Gabe Leland & His Lust For Cocktails & Popcorn - Michael Bullotta Is Back In Action

Image result for doj popcorn
"I C Public corruption. Woop, Woop!"
Well, at least we know one thing about the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit, they like Cocktails & Popcorn!

Now, you know darn well that the U.S. Attorney, particularly Michael Bullotta, is not going to just subpoena a bar bill over cocktails and popcorn.

I speculate it has something to do with election irregularities, you know, like absentee ballots, voting machines, data manipulation, campaign finance, forgery, fraud, you know the schpeil. 

Or it could have something to do with that pesky "attorney-client privilege" going back to those darn Detroit text message case precedent.


Michael Bullotta prosecuted the Kwame Kilpatrick case, perhaps, he was lecturing on text messages in countering global transnational organized crime to law enforcement to the FBI.

Quite obviously, certain individuals in the FBI were absent for that lecture.

Forgive me for my digression.
Image result for girl thinking hmm
"Hmmmmm....does William Isaac Robinson suck?
He is a 'Legal Genius' (trademark pending), you know."
Anyway, I wonder if the federal grand jury probe has to do anything with Gabe Leland's staffer, William Isaac Robinson, of whom recently, surprisingly, won the election for Michigan State Senate, probably on his previous professions of being the one individual, to gloriously go down in history, as the one who took John Conyers, Jr. out of office.

Or, just perhaps, it the grand jury probe may branch off into election fraud, but, of course, I would have no reason to imply election fraud, or voter fraud, or any other forms of violating voting rights by and through the use of absentee voting ballots using forged precinct delegate candidate forms, or even forged absentee ballots, you know, at those Detroit Land Bank Authority properties that seem to be slowly reverted back to the authority of the City of Detroit.

https://www.waynecounty.com/elected/clerk/election-results.aspx
Or, perhaps, it has something to do with campaign finance, stolen database, espionage, TARP, and your classic Detroit public corruption investigation that never went away....Hmmmm.... maybe it has to do with the fact that Perkins Coie sucks...but hey, what do I know?

That would make much more sense, right?

Or, it could just be a simple case of Cocktails & Popcorn, but I doubt it, but, hey, what do I know?

Detroit Councilman Gabe Leland subject of federal grand jury probe

A federal grand jury has been impaneled to investigate claims that Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland allegedly extorted thousands of dollars in free alcohol, food and other items in exchange for political promises from a shuttered downtown bar, according to a subpoena obtained by the Free Press.

The subpoena was issued Aug. 8 by Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Michael Bullotta and sought all d ocumentation related to Leland possibly obtaining:
  • Free entry into parties or events
  • Free alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks
  • Free food, including entrees, appetizers and desserts
  • Any other items of value provided free of charge or at a discounted price
The probe is the latest twist in a lengthy legal battle that began in November 2016 when the co-owners of the former Centre Park Bar, 1407 Randolph, first filed a lawsuit against Mayor Mike Duggan and other city officials. Leland has not been charged with any crime.

The original suit, which is still winding through the court system, claimed police harassment and alleged Dennis Archer Jr., former Mayor Dennis Archer's son, received favorable treatment while buying the building the bar occupied.

A separate lawsuit was filed in July by attorney Andrew Paterson on behalf of Centre Park co-owner Kenneth Scott Bridgewater, alleging Leland stopped by the bar in fall 2016 to speak with him about the ongoing issues the bar was having. The lawsuit also names Detroit Police Officer Robert Harris and Detroit Fire Department Captain Calvin Harris.

Leland did not respond to a request for comment but his attorney Steve Fishman said in a statement to the Free Press:

"The allegations made by the former owners of Centre Park Bar that Gabe Leland received preferential treatment are too ridiculous to deserve further comment.  Contact me again if even one document exists that supports that claim."

Paterson said in a statement Thursday regarding the federal probe that his clients were forced to close earlier this year “due to the unethical and possibly illegal actions of certain elected and appointed officials of the City of Detroit and the Detroit Downtown Development Authority.”

“My clients are thankful for the opportunity the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI have given them to help expose the unlawful and corrupt conduct of certain city officials and their associates,” Paterson said in a statement to the Free Press, adding that they plan to assist the "ongoing criminal investigation."

The U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI declined to comment.

In late July, the councilman called the July federal lawsuit filed against him a "witch hunt."
When asked by a Free Press reporter at the time whether the allegations were false and whether he'd accepted any free alcohol or food, Leland did not directly answer the question.

"These are allegations," Leland said. "I sat in the restaurant and I had a drink and I had some food. That isn’t illegal. … Anybody in this city who thinks they can get some influence out of me for a tequila and a taco is greatly mistaken."

The bar initially signed a lease in August 2013 with the Detroit Downtown Development Authority, which was not set to expire until Aug. 19 of this year.

But in September 2015, the DDA requested development proposals from developers to acquire properties owned by the DDA to redevelop the old Paradise Valley area.

Centre Park also prepared a development proposal for the property but Archer's investment group, Gotham Capital Partners, was eventually selected as the winning bidder.

After Centre Park ownership started to publicly question the process, Bridgewater alleges the bar was retaliated against and was visited and ticketed several times by police officers.

Bridgewater claims during their initial conversation and "without being asked," Leland offered to assist him in addressing the issues Centre Park Bar was experiencing.

But according to the suit, Leland later in the conversation demanded "free entry into parties," as well as free alcoholic drinks and food whenever he visited the bar.

Bridgewater claims he asked Leland whether his demands were ethical and lawful, and Leland said it was “normal practice” for local restaurants and bars in the City of Detroit to "provide members of the Detroit City Council and other elected and city officials with free alcoholic drinks and free food upon request."

"Plaintiff Bridgewater did not want to honor Defendant Leland’s demands, but felt compelled to do so," Peterson wrote in the July suit. "... Bridgewater feared that if he did not honor Defendant Leland’s demands that Defendant Leland would make sure that Centre Park Bar would continue to be ticketed and closed."

Bridgewater alleges in the suit he feared retaliation because Leland said if he didn't honor his demands, it would be a "sure thing" that the bar would be harassed and evicted from the property.
The bar eventually closed in April 2018, Bridgewater says, in part because of the alleged harassment.
City of Detroit Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia said in a previous statement to the Free Press that "any allegation that DPD Officer Harris or of DFD Capt. Harris were acting inappropriately by 'harassing the Center Park Bar into closing' are false."

The lawsuit is the latest legal woe to hit Leland and comes less than four months after a Detroit businessman claimed in a separate federal lawsuit that Leland demanded $15,000 for his re-election campaign weeks before the August primary in exchange for a political favor.

In January, Leland was named a potential target in a wide-ranging FBI corruption probe involving local towing magnate Gasper Fiore. Leland, who was re-elected to a second term on council in November, has not been charged with any crime.

Fiore, who pleaded guilty last December to bribing a Macomb County official, faces up to five years in prison. His case is part of a broader corruption scandal that has ensnared at least 20 individuals, many of whom have pleaded guilty.

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