Saturday, October 31, 2009

Prep, St. Andrews, JA are JJ favorites

Looks like Prep, St. Andrews, and JA are the leading high schools among JJ readers.

S. Panola
7 (2%)
Terry
1 (0%)
Jackson Prep
38 (14%)
Provine
1 (0%)
Forest Hill
5 (1%)
Wingfield
5 (1%)
Jackson Academy
34 (12%)
NW Rankin
16 (5%)
St. Andrews
35 (12%)
Pearl
6 (2%)
Brandon
20 (7%)
Lanier
5 (1%)
Clinton
18 (6%)
Madison-Central
21 (7%)
MRA
10 (3%)
Murrah
13 (4%)
John Curtis
2 (0%)
Broadmoor H.S.
1 (0%)
Ridgeland
3 (1%)
St. Jospeph's
16 (5%)
Florence
4 (1%)
Richland
1 (0%)
University Christian
2 (0%)
Callaway
7 (2%)

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Latest crime stats

Latest crime stats for Jackson: week of October 18-25.

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Halloween at The Auditorium


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Friday, October 30, 2009

Evans brothers hit Harrison County & Texas. Nearly $13 million in Texas commercial loans given to Chris Evans

Update: Found another batch of loans made to Evans owned or controlled companies in Texas. So far the total amount for this newly-discovered group is over $14 million, including a $4 million from Bankfirst Financial Services in Mississippi.

The jet-setting Evans brothers could not get enough of Mississippi. First it was Madison County, then it was Desoto. Now JJ discovered more "deals" were made in Harrison County by Chris and Charles Evans as well nearly $13 million in commercial real estate loans in Texas that are "going bad". (See note below for synopsis of the Evans case.)

Cedar Lake Investors (sound familiar?) obtained a Deed of Trust in on a property in Harrison County on December 22, 2004 from First Bank and Trust (a Louisiana bank) for $352,000. The loan has been extended several times. Deed of Trust, Extension, Second extension . As was true all too many times, both Chris and Charles Evans signed the Deed of Trust and apparently Charles Evans provided the title work. Both names are on the signature pages. There are also several deeds on file for properties owned by Chris Evans in Harrison County. Deed, Deed II, Deed III, Deed IV

It is unknown as to how many other properties and banks in that area were involved at this time and a further investigation is being conducted. However, JJ has also learned Evans' companies operated in Texas as well in the same manner. So far JJ discovered the following companies and deeds in Collins County:
Lake Harbor Development Company: Lake Harbor Development-owned property, Second Lake Harbor owned property. Lake Harbor obtained a commercial mortgage on a property in Collins County for $1,400,000 on October 11, 2007 from American Bank of Texas. Deed of Trust, Deed The deed was issued to Lake Harbor from another Evans company: Highland Colony Group.

Highland Colony Group owned several properties in Collins County and obtained several commercial real estate mortgages:
Northern Trust Bank of Texas, $990,000 on 7/14/06 Deed of trust
Signature Bank, $960,000 on 4/14/06 Deed of Trust, Extended.
Inwood National Bank, $930,000 on 5/23/06. Extended on 9/28/09. (Yes, you read the date right. ) Deed of Trust granting extension
Prosperity National Bank, $930,000 on 7/15/07. Extension of 4/25/06 loan. Deed of Trust. Loan was extended again.

Collins County was not the only county where the Highland Colony Group wheeled and dealed. The company made more than a few visits to Denton County as it followed its usual pattern: buying tracts of promising commercial real estate than obtaining large mortgages for them from local banks. Highland Colony obtained the following loans:
North Dallas Bank & Trust, $880,000 on 10/14/05, Extended
American Bank of Texas, $892,000 on 10/11/05, Extended
Independent Bank, $1,000,000 on 10/26/05, Extended
Texas Star Bank, $980,000 on 1/18/06, Extended
Bank of Texas, $960,000 on 1/25/06, Extended
Dallas City Bank, $1,000,000 on 2/14/06, Extended
Sovereign Bank, $997,500 on 3/09/06, Extended
Gateway National Bank, $930,000 on 5/04/06
Inwood National Bank, $930,000 on 6/02/06

Total amount of commercial real estate loans granted to Evans' company in Texas: $12,879,500 (This sum is in addition to the over $52 million in loans taken by Evans brothers in Mississippi.). This sum is not a final total or accounting as it is obviously unknown if more loans were extended to other Evans' companies. However, foreclosures are in the works as Independent Bank filed an "Appointment of Substitution of Trustee" on October 9, 2009 and Dallas City Bank filed one on October 26. Filing this notice at the courthouse is the first step in the foreclosure process. Link to Denton County land records search engine. Keep in mind these are loans that were extended to the Chris Evans through his companies. While it has NOT been shown they were fraudulent yet, as a freeze order is in place against Charles Evans, Jr. and Chris Evans is in bankruptcy, the Texas banks will probably suffer losses to some degree on these loans.

Note: The synopsis of the case is there were two brothers, Charles Evans, Jr., and Jon Chris Evans, in Jackson. Charles was an "approved attorney" for Mississippi Valley Title Insurance and certified titles to them. His brother Chris set up over 25 LLC's in Mississippi and apparently some more in Texas that bought prime pieces of undeveloped commercial real estate in booming suburbs of major cities such as Dallas, Memphis, and Jackson. Evans companies obtained MANY commercial mortgages on their properties and Charles Evans Jr. certified the titles/deeds to the property for MVT and the lender. Evans obtained over 80 commercial real estate loans from 32 banks in Mississippi according to a JJ investigation, totalling over $52 million in Madison and Desoto Counties. MVT testified in a hearing this week that in most cases, the lenders had NO deed or title to the property and thus had extended unsecured loans.

MVT filed a Request for an immediate Temporary Restraining Order in mid-September, alleging fraud. MVT asked the Court to freeze all assets of the Evans brothers among other demands made by the insurance company. The Court granted the order. The order was converted this week to a preliminary injunction (see earlier posts listed below). MVT's lawyer called the alleged fraud the "biggest fraud to hit Mississippi since Worldcomm." MVT's investigator also admitted on the stand the FBI had contacted him about the case. Chris Evans stayed all proceedings against him by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week while Charles Evans, Jr., is still a defendant.

Earlier posts:
FBI contacted MVT, MVT lawyer calls Evans case "Biggest fraud to hit Mississippi since Worldcomm
Nearly $42 million in loans issued to Evans' brothers in Madison County
Tempest in a teapot or record-breaking fraud?
Banks issued nearly $10 million to Evans brothers in Desoto County
Evans case update on court filings

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Jefferson County update

The interest rate swap fiasco in Jefferson County continues to grow. The Birmingham News reported:
"Jefferson County commissioners raised questions Wednesday about Bir­mingham lawyer Bill Slaughter's work for the county after court testimony that he told an investment banker a $300,000 fee didn't need to be dis­closed to the full commission.....
During the corruption trial of former commission president Larry Langford this week, Rick Fitzgerald, formerly of New York-based Goldman Sachs, said Slaughter told him the fee paid to Montgomery investment banker Bill Blount needed to be disclosed only to Jefferson County's then-finance direc­tor Steve Sayler.
Blount has pleaded guilty in the case and testified that he made payments to, and bought gifts for, Langford, who was convicted of federal corruption charges Wednesday. In return, Blount
testified, his investment bank was in­cluded in bond and swap transactions led by larger investment banks such as Goldman Sachs. All told, Blount Par­rish collected $7.1 million in fees..."
Article

Considering what these guys did to the people of Jefferson County, its a shame flogging is no longer a punishment. They guys would fear the knout more than they would 3 years in a federal country club. Incidentally, I was told by a few weeks ago this blog is what killed the proposed interest-rate swap for Jackson this year.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Preliminary injunction entered in Evans case.

Chancellor Harvey-Goree filed a copy of the preliminary injunction in the Evans case yesterday. Copy of order. The details were posted Wednsday but JJ finally obtained a copy of it for publication.

Earlier posts:
FBI contacted MVT, MVT lawyer calls Evans case "Biggest fraud to hit Mississippi since Worldcomm
Nearly $42 million in loans issued to Evans' brothers in Madison County
Tempest in a teapot or record-breaking fraud?
Banks issued nearly $10 million to Evans brothers in Desoto County
Evans case update on court filings

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Everyone take a break & LAUGH!!!

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Fine Arts Institute of Mississippi +Tim Johnson = Trouble?

The Clarion-Ledger reported the State is investigating a charity/bingo operation called the Fine Arts Institute of Mississippi:
"State gaming regulators are expected to decide today whether to approve a staff recommendation denying license renewal to a bingo hall that supports a Ridgeland nonprofit.
Fine Arts Institute of Mississippi, which receives money from bingo operations in Olive Branch, has had a gaming license since 2006.
In August, the organization was given a three-month license to continue operating while the state Gaming Commission investigated the group..."

Seems as though while the "charity" raked in millions of dollars not much was spent on programs:
"According to the secretary of state's office, the institute in 2007 posted revenue of nearly $4.5 million. It spent nearly $173,000 on programs, just shy of 4 percent of its total revenue.
In 2006, the agency collected nearly $1.3 million in revenue and paid out $1,000 on programs, less than 1 percent of its budget...." Article, WLBT story with video

Apparently an employee turned them into the State and Bill Murphy, the agency's Executive Director, prosecuted her for embezzling less than a thousand dollars. She filed a wrongful termination suit in response to being indicted for the alleged embezzlement.

Let me round out this picture a bit for you. What the Clarion-Ledger did not mention was WHO the so-called charity's lobbyist was: Tim Johnson. Yes, Mr. Elvis himself, (who will NOT be appearing tomorrow night at The Auditorium), had been working for Mr. Murphy's group. According to lobbyist reports filed with the state, Mr. Johnson has exactly two clients as a lobbyist: Fine Arts Institute of Mississippi and the Mississippi Outdoor Advertising Association.

Mr. Johnson reported them as a client in 2009, report, and in 2008, report. This report filed by the Institute shows Mr. Johnson is registered as the "charity's" lobbyist through the end of the year. Mr. Murphy's "charity" paid Mr. Johnson $24,000 in 2008 for his, um, services according to the "charity"'s 2008 annual report. The Madison County Journal reports the lobbying was illegal and the state ordered the "charity" to stop paying Mr. Johnson in 2008 (even though Mr. Johnson lists them as his client through December 2009 on a 2009 report). The newspaper also reports Mr. Murphy was the manager of the County Road Department until 2007. Article (By the way, the MCJ story is MUCH better than the CL version). Mr. Johnson is also listed as a director on this filing with the Mississippi Secretary of State's office.

Hmmm.... employee rats out some financial shenanigans she claims to have observed at Mr. Murphy's "charity" and suddenly the Madison County Power Structure comes down on her. Connect the dots, folks, connect the dots.

Copy of state filings

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bankrate.com: Regions has a "significantly below average condition."

Bankrate.com gave Regions only a one-star rating and made the following observations:
"Bankrate believes that, as of June 30, 2009, this bank exhibited a significantly below average condition, characterized by substantially lower than normal overall, sustainable profitability, very questionable asset quality, below standard capitalization and lower than normal liquidity....
The bank revealed, as previously stated, very questionable asset quality..." Article

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FBI contacted MVT, Chris Evans filed bankruptcy last night, MVT calls Evans case "Biggest fraud to hit Mississippi since Worldcomm"

Update: Copy of Preliminary Injunction

The courtroom heated up today in Yazoo City as a hearing on several motions filed in the Evans case was held this morning. Several revelations were made during testimony provided under oath by employees of Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company.

Bankruptcy
The first bombshell to drop was a revelation by Charles Evans, Jr.'s, lawyer, Terry Levy, that Jon Chris Evans filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court yesterday at 5:30 PM. Bankruptcy petition. Bill Brabec, MVT's attorney confirmed the entry of the petition. Thus the Chancellor did not consider any legal action taken against Chris Evans as the entry of the bankruptcy petition halted all civil proceedings at the state court level against him. Jon Chris Evans Amended Creditor List (Notice all of the banks in Texas. There are rumors and allegations the same scheme was perpetuated in Dallas.).

The Chancellor then denied a Motion to Quash a Subpoena filed by the defense. However, she approved several motions for protective orders submitted by MVT and several banks as they were concerned about providing confidential and personal financial information in a public record. The judge agreed with their concerns and granted their requests.

How Mississippi Valley Title suspected fraud
The main event at today's hearing ,however, was the consideration of a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction filed by Mississippi Valley Title and Old Republic, its parent. Copy of Motion . Brad Jones, a lawyer, CPA, and Certified Fraud Examiner for MVT, testified the fraud was discovered when MVT received a phone call from a policyholder at Holmes County Bank. Bank examiners were apparently at the bank and asked for copies of deeds related to two mortgages (deeds showing ownership by borrower, NOT deeds of trust issued to lien holders). Holmes County Bank issued two mortgages worth $1,580,479 in 2008 and 2009. The bank didn't have the deeds and called MVT to obtain a copy of them. MVT did not have any copies of the deeds. Holmes County Bank and MVT became very suspicious when the Courthouse did not have any deeds on file either. Thus the scheme (alleged, I do have to write that) began to unravel as MVT began to investigate.

Mississippi Valley Title then called Charles Evans, Jr. since he was the attorney who provided the title work for the two loans. Mr. Evans was an "approved attorney" for MVT. "Approved attorneys" are a list of lawyers from whom MVT will accept title work it then uses to issue title insurance policies to lenders and borrowers. Mr. Jones stated these attorneys are not employees nor agents of MVT. No testimony was provided on whether MVT audited these lawyers or had procedures in place to protect against fraud.

The Damage and the FBI appear
Charles Evans, Jr. disappeared and did not return any phone calls. Mr. Jones stated his office seemed to be deserted and had no employees. MVT finally sent a fax to Evans' office asking him to call the insurance company. The next day an Matt Balderidge of John Colette's law firm (Mr. Colette is one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Mississippi) called Mississippi Valley Title and said he was representing Charles Evans, Jr. Mr. Jones said this the first red flag about Mr. Evans. Mr. Jones testified he discovered the following facts:

  • Over 100 policies were issued to Charles Evans, Jr.
  • All borrowers were companies controlled or owned by Charles or Chris Evans
  • Over $70 million in policies were issued by MVT
  • There were 43 mortgages ($29 million) where the mortgage-holder was not vested with title
  • 40 mortgage (more than $26 million) where the bank had a junior lien when it was supposed to have first lien.
It was at this point that Mr. Jones dropped his last bombshell upon a direct question from Mr. Brabec: he had been contacted by the FBI.

Mr. Brabec angrily said in his closing argument the Evans case was the "biggest fraud to hit Mississippi since Worldcomm" and that (the Evans brothers) "have stolen tens of millions of dollars, $50 to $100 million through a fraudulent scheme. It was also clear from courtroom testimony and statements no one has been able to locate Charles or Chris Evans.

If the allegations are true, and there is a strong probability they are, the Evans case is the largest real estate and mortgage fraud case in Mississippi history. 32 banks issued loans to companies owned or controlled by Charles or Chris Evans. Estimates on the amount of damage range from $50 to $100 million.

One abstractor familiar with the case (but has no involvement) told JJ "All the overlapping layers created by their various deeds of trust are like a cross between 3-dimensional chess and a jigsaw puzzle. And it really made swiss cheese of the bank's lien positions. Part of a tract might have first position while other parts of the same tract might be preceded by other liens. Then again, from a certain standpoint all the lenders are in the same position -- zero. It's going to be interesting to see how the courts sort out the title mess."

One must also wonder what Mississippi Valley Title's liability is in this case if it is has to cover the most of the losses the banks suffered. It should also be pointed out that while the amount of money involved in fraudulent loans is smaller than the $52 million JJ reported yesterday as the estimate for the banks exposure, those loans can be considered no good as the assets of the Evans brothers have been frozen or placed into bankruptcy. The potential losses facing either Mississippi banks or Mississippi Valley Title Insurance very well might be close to $100 million as claimed in court today.

Nearly $42 million in loans issued to Evans' brothers in Madison County
Tempest in a teapot or record-breaking fraud?
Banks issued nearly $10 million to Evans brothers in Desoto County
Evans case update on court filings

Note: Here are the results of an examination in 2006 ordered by the Missississippi Insurance Commissioner. It includes financial statement. Examination Results

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Evans case update on Court filings

Several motions for protective orders requesting the Court allow Bankfirst, Mississippi Valley Title, and Copiah Bank to file documents and information subpoenaed under seal were submitted to the Madison County Chancery Court last week.

Bankfirst (Copy of Motion for Protective Order) was subpoenaed by MVT and its parent, Old Republic Title Insurance Company to provide information regarding loans provided to the Evans-owned companies. Bankfirst called such information "privileged" and "protected" and asked that it be allowed to file its answer under seal. Mississippi Valley Title also moved for a protective order as well, citing privacy concerns it has for the information subpoenaed (It wouldn't be because it doesn't want the entire state to see how it was suckered or its lawyer might have screwed some banks, now would it?). MVT submitted a proposed protective order along with the motion. Copy of motion.

MVT has already tried to avoid any public exposure to how it was allegedly defrauded by the defendants as it filed the explanation for how the alleged fraud took place under seal (In violation of the Gannett States case). Such sealings are troubling as this case has a strong probability of being the largest mortgage fraud case in Mississippi history. The public has a strong interest in learning if and how its banking system was defrauded for potentially tens of millions of dollars.

A hearing for a preliminary injunction has been set for October 27, 2009 at 9:00 AM at the Yazoo County Courthouse. Since a temperory restraining order (TRO) has already been issued and extended once against the defendants, the purpose of the hearing is to convert the TRO to a more permanent preliminary injunction. A subpoena was issued for Jon C. Evans. Copy of subpoena Two of the Evans' companies, Twin City Development and Snowden Lane Investments, filed an answer to MVT's lawsuit. Copy of answer

Several Lis Pendens actions have been filed against the defendants by several banks seeking to get first lien on several properties supposedly owned by the Evans' companies. They are: Cadence Bank, State Bank, Merchants & Farmers, and Bank of Forest.

Stay tuned for more.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Double trouble

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Banks issued nearly $10 million in loans to Evans brothers in Desoto County; Exposure now estimated at nearly $52 million.

The Evans brothers apparently found Madison County too small as they ventured north to Desoto County to perpetuate what Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company called a "fraudulent scheme". JJ reported last week 27 banks in Mississippi gave 68 loans worth nearly $52 million to companies owned by brothers Jon C. Evans or Charles Evans, Jr. Earlier post on banks' exposure, Post on lawsuits.

The Madison County Chancery Court recently issued a court order freezing all assets of the Evans brothers and any companies they owned. MVT accused Jon Evans of operating 25 companies that bought real estate and fraudulently obtained large commercial real estate loans from a multitude of banks in Mississippi. MVT also alleged his brother Charles, an attorney approved by MVT to issue certificates of title, participated in the fraud by issuing phony real estate titles to Mississippi Valley Title and the banks. Multiple loans were issued for the same property in many cases. It is suspected the Evans brothers operated a Ponzi scheme that involved lenders instead of investors.

While the legal battle continues in Madison County, JJ discovered 12 banks issued 17 commercial real estate loans worth $9,722,219 on properties in Desoto County to various Evans companies. The average loan size was $571,895. The loans are itemized below along with total for each bank's exposure. The calculations were based upon a review of the Deeds of Trust published on Desoto County's website. It should also be noted the total amount could decrease if any banks have not filed any loan payoffs at the appropriate courthouse.

Thus it is estimated banks issued $51,867,197 in commercial real estate loans to the Evans brothers in Madison and Desoto Counties. The totals for each bank posted in the earlier story will be updated to reflect each bank's estimated exposure to the alleged fraud. It is also strongly suspected the Evans' companies operated the same um, business plan in other counties and that the banks' exposure will only grow as more are discovered.

1st Trust Bank: $380,000
$380,000 on 11/5/04 to Snowden Grove Investors

First Alliance Bank: $1,520,000
$1,520,000 on 11/1/07 to Snowden Grove Investors. Modification of three earlier loans.

Merchants & Farmers Bank: $1,329,898
$713,023 on 2/23/08 to Snowden Lane Investments. Modification of earlier loan for $800,233.
$616,875 on 8/14/07 to Snowden Lane Investments

Community Bank: $800,000
$800,000 on 8/4/04 to Snowden Lane Investments.

Bankfirst: $800,418
$800,418 on 8/4/04 to Snowden Lane Investments.

Bancorp South: $1,355,585
$800,000 on 8/5/04 to Snowden Lane Investments.
$555,585 on 9/22/08 to Snowden Lane Investments

First Security Bank: $1,300,226
$900,165 on 4/28/08 to Brashear Heath
$400,061 on 6/27/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

Bankplus: $738,640
$338,122 on 8/25/06 to Colony Construction (Deed of Trust doesn't mention any renewal, extension, or modification of earlier loan.) Deed of Trust
$400,518 on 8/20/04 to Colony Construction Deed of Trust

Southtrust Bank: $400,000
$400,000 on 8/31/04 to Colony Construction

Wachovia: $400,000
$400,000 on 8/31/04 to Highland of Ridgeland

First State Bank: $752,640
$424,319 on 6/17/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$328,321 on 6/27/08 to Cedar Lake Investors

Patriot Bank: $500,000
$500,000 on 7/22/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

JPD food fight....again?

Check out Othor Cain's blog.

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The rebirth of the Saenger

Its been four years since Katrina but the storied Saenger Theatre on Canal Street is finally going to be renovated in a manner worthy of its past. The Times-Picayune reports:

"With plans nearing completion and bids expected to be awarded by January, developers this week plan to throw open the theater's doors and offer the public a glimpse of some small-scale but eye-popping restoration efforts already under way. They also will tout their grand vision for a modernized, expanded layout that still honors the theater's historic roots....."

This isn't going to just be a restoration project that takes the Saenger back to how it looked in July 2005 but instead, the design is an ambitious one that aims to bring the Saenger back in all of its glory from the 1920s:
"Unlike scores of rebuilding projects across town, the restoration of the Saenger won't simply aim to wipe away the ravages of a flood that swamped underground infrastructure and orchestra-level seats and trashed the sprawling building's ornate, Florentine interiors.

Instead, the theater will be reborn to more closely reflect the way it looked when it opened in 1927 as a vaudeville playhouse before morphing into the city's preeminent movie palace.

The development team says it has cobbled together the federal and state money and tax-credit financing needed to move the project forward.....

Besides $15 million in federal grants funneled through the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the rest of the budget relies on private sources. Developers are taking advantage of five different types of state and federal tax credits to finance the renovation, including historic tax credits that require builders to adhere to strict preservation rules, including submitting plans to the National Park Service.
...." Article Pictures of the Saenger as originally built.

Wow. Tax credit financing. Seems as though I've heard of this before although I'm sure there were some in New Orleans who couldn't have cared less if the Saenger was rebuilt or tried to nitpick every plan to death while not offering any solutions. Its a pleasure seeing this project finally take place as I remember many nights at the Saenger. There was nothing like going to the Palace Cafe then walking a few blocks down to catch a show and it was one of the many treasures in New Orleans. The Saenger's rebirth is long overdue and is a very welcome sight. Kudos to the many people in New Orleans who worked together to give her a new life.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

GEAUX TO HELL AUBURN!!!



There is no team I hate like Auburn. I hate them. I want to take a k-bar and stab it into their guts, then stomp their guts all over the ground. I want to burn every AU flag I see and bbq war chickens for breakfast. I was there at the Plains in 2006 for that big screw job the refs did. Aided by a replay official, Al Ford, who sells insurance in Hunstville, Alabama and whose daughter was on athletic scholarship at Auburn AND called a very controversial play the next week against Florida at the end of the game. I hate em and want to see the totally demolished, destroyed, and annihlated. I fantasize about shooting that war chicken out of the sky and would love to torch that big A in the middle of the field. Auburn's nothing but a bunch of trailer trash that couldn't even get into Troy. I hate 'em and they are going down tonight. GEAUX TO *#@* AUBURN!!!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Remembering Dan Fogelberg

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Tonight at The Auditorium










Website for show
Other entertainment: Bill and Temperance at 7:30.
Tomorrow night: Shaun Patterson at 7:30.

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Latest crime stats

Jackson crime stats for October 12-18, 2009.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

JJ estimates over $37 million in loans issued to Evans brothers in Madison County and nearly $10 million in Desoto County

Update II: Found a $3.3 million dollar loan issued by M&F to an Evans company. Totals and headlines are updated to reflect this new information. Copy of Deed of Trust JJ was informed by a very good source M&F's exposure is only $5.6 million, which could be covered by MVT.

Update I
: Found more loans extended to Evans' owned companies in Desoto County. JJ calculates the total amount for Desoto is nearly $10 million after examining public records. List has been updated to reflect Desoto County loans.

One question that must be asked of the Evans case is exactly how much money did banks lend to the various companies owned by the Evans brothers. While the lawsuits against Jon Evans, Jackson Attorney Charles Evans, Jr., and their twenty-five companies work their way through the courts, JJ did some digging on the Madison County website and examined deeds of trust issued by the Evans' entities in favor of the local banks (A deed of trust is issued to a lender for the lien placed on the property. Think of it as a receipt for a loan filed at the courthouse.). Earlier post on Evans case

The total amount of loans issued to the Evans' companies in Madison County alone is $37,538,645 according to calculations based upon public records. There were 67 loans issued by 27 banks in Madison County. This is not an all-inclusive list but is based upon companies named in the lawsuit filed by Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company in Madison County Chancery Court. An attempt was made to mention all releases filed by the banks on the deeds of trusts. If any were missed, please feel free to email any corrections to JJ. There are rumors of the defendants perpetuating similar frauds in other areas. However, those are just rumors at this time and JJ has focused its efforts on Madison County.

Several banks got lucky as they issued loans that were subsequently paid off on time. Others weren't so fortunate. Merchants & Farmers Bank is probably the biggest loser as its estimated the Kosciusko bank issued over $5 million in loans to companies owned by Jon or Charles Evans., Jr. While most of these loans are still performing and no actions pertaining to foreclosure have been filed, it is important to keep in mind that there is an active court order that froze the assets of the defendants. Unless the Court approves any mortgage payments, all of these loans are probably in severe danger of default. Below are the loans as well as the dates they were closed or filed, and the Evans company to whom they were granted.

Bankfirst: $1,688,828 (Madison), $2,489,246 (Total)
$448,408 on 7/3/03 to Woodgreen Development.
$480,420 on 11/14/03 to Old Agency Business Park
$760,000 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$800,418 on 8/4/04 to Snowden Lane Investments. (Desoto)

Bancorp South: $2,978,081 (Madison), $4,333,666 (Total)
$448,000 on 7/3/03 to Woodgreen Development. Extended through 2013.
$250,000 on 1/15/03 to Colony Construction.
$780,000 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors.
$1,500,081 on 7/21/08 to Park Place Commons. Was due in October 2008. No release or modification filed so assumed note is still unsatisfied.
$800,000 on 8/5/04 to Snowden Lane Investments. (Desoto)
$555,585 on 9/22/08 to Snowden Lane Investments (Desoto)


Regions: $1,961,020
$481,020 on 7/9/03 to Woodgreen Development. (Union Planters loan)
$1,480,000 on 3/9/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

Bankplus: $1,295,533 (Madison), $2,034,173 (Total)
$480,068 on 7/7/03 to Woodgreen Development.
$248,810 on 1/14/03 to Colony Construction
$183,695 on 1/15/08 to Colony Construction. Extension of above note.
$631,770 on 1/7/08 to Cedar Lake Investors
$400,518 on 8/20/04 to Brashear Heath (Desoto)
$338,122 on 8/25/06 to Colony Construction (Desoto)

Merchants & Farmers: $8,663,769 (Madison), $9,993,667(Total) NOTE: Informed source tells JJ only $5.6 million in loans are outstanding for the bank. Totals will be changed to reflect it in the overall cumulatitve total.
$321,618 on 7/23/03 to Woodgreen Development. Released on 4/28/05
$3,037,276 on 7/18/08 to Town Park of Madison.
$1,380,529 on 4/12/07 to Madison Avenue Development
$792,359 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$416,329 on 9/21/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$713,023 on 2/23/08 to Snowden Lane Investments. Mod. of earlier loan. (Desoto)
$616,875 on 8/14/07 to Snowden Lane Investments (Desoto)
$3,037,276 on 7/18/08 to Town Park.

Bank of Forest: $1,747,950
$1,296,500 on 7/21/08 to White Oaks Investments
$451,450 on 8/27/09 to White Oaks Investments

Bank of Yazoo City: $1,100,301
$800,188 on 1/29/08 to Westwoods Investments
$300,113 on 3/30/09 to Windsor Pass

Bank of the South: $700,680
$700,680 on 2/15/08 to Westwoods Investments

Renasant Bank: $1,381,150
$780,950 on 3/28/08 to Westwoods Investments
$600,200 on 6/29/07 to Madison Avenue Development

Heritage Banking Group: $781,980
$781,980 on 7/21/08 to Twinbrook Run Development

Southtrust Bank: $837,900 (Madison), $1,237,900 (Total)
$609,439 on 10/17/03 to Old Agency Business Park
$228,461 on 1/3/03 to Highland of Ridgeland. Extended maturity date to 9/13/09.
$400,000 on 8/31/04 to Colony Construction (Desoto)

Community Bank: $2,830,315 (Madison), $3,630,315 (Total)
$464,057 on 10/17/03 to Old Agency Business Park
$776,129 on 11/15/06 to Madison Avenue Development
$720,000 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$520,129 on 8/1/07 to 463 Development.
$350,000 on 4/11/03 to Highland of Madison Development
$800,000 on 8/4/04 to Snowden Lane Investments. (Desoto)

Madison County Bank: $724,678
$400,164 on 10/16/03 to Old Agency Business Park
$227,899 on 11/13/08 to Old Agency Business Park. Extension of above loan.
$496,779 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors.

State Bank & Trust: $2,446,181
$528,025 on 10/17/03 to Old Agency Business Park
$291,342 on 6/17/09 to Old Agency Business Park. Extension of above loan.
$353,079 on 9/23/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$1,302,914 on 8/30/07 to 463 Development.
$498,846 on 4/10/03 to Highland of Madison Development

Citizens National Bank: $1,212,349
$500,170 on 11/14/03 to Old Agency Business Park
$712,179 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

First Commercial Bank: $0. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
$525,000 on 10/16/03 to Old Agency Business Park. Satisfied in 2006.
$304,000 on 5/2/03 to Highland CE Corp. Satisfied and released.

National Bank of Commerce: $1,360,441
$600,200 on 10/17/03 to Old Agency Business Park.
$760,241 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

Britton & Koontz: $2,352,102
$643,211 on 10/16/03 to Old Agency Business Park. Extended on 6/17/09 to 2012
$804,231 on 1/7/05 to Cedar Lake Investors.
$904,660 on 4/25/08 to Brashear Heath LLC. Granted extension on 6/17/09.

Holmes County Bank & Trust: $1,580,479
$800,292 on 2/11/09 to Nottaway Pointe
$780,187 on 4/22/08 to Park Place Commons

Cadence Bank: $3,439,402
$1,000,0279 on 10/27/06 to Madison Avenue Development
$1,614,402 on 12/08/06 to Madison Avenue Development. Does not say if it is modification of above note so it must be assumed it is another note.
$825,000 on 9/3/08 to Clear Creek Development.

Consumer National Bank: $792,169
$248,467 on 1/16/03 to Highland of Ridgeland
$191,702 on 2/1/06 to Highland of Ridgeland. Modified several times.
$352,000 on 9/23/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

Omnibank: $2,017,102
$775,804 on 2/2/07 to Madison Avenue Development.
$740,769 on 3/14/07 to Madison Avenue Development. Must be assumed another note as no modification of earlier note is mentioned.
$500,529 on 1/6/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

Copiah Bank: $0. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
$1,000,000 on 6/9/03 to Highland Development Group. Released later that year.

First Bank: $416,167
$416,167 on 1/6/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

Merchants & Planters Bank: $266,000
$266,000 on 4/11/03 to C&L Inc. Substitute Trustee notice filed on 10/15/09.

Guaranty Bank & Trust: $1,617,401
$808,304 on 12/29/08 to Brisbane Centre
$809,097 on 6/12/09 to Brisbane Centre

Wachovia: $900,000 (Madison), $1,300,000 (Total)
$900,000 on 4/30/08 to Park Place Commons
$400,000 on 8/31/04 to Highland of Ridgeland (Desoto)

Patriot Bank: $500,000 (Desoto)
$500,000 on 7/22/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

First State Bank : $752,640 (Desoto)
$424,319 on 6/17/05 to Cedar Lake Investors
$328,321 on 6/27/08 to Cedar Lake Investors

First Security Bank : $1,300,226 (Desoto)
$900,165 on 4/28/08 to Brashear Heath
$400,061 on 6/27/05 to Cedar Lake Investors

First Alliance Bank : $1,520,000 (Desoto)
$1,520,000 on 11/1/07 to Snowden Grove Investors. Modification of three earlier loans.

1st Trust Bank : $380,000 (Desoto)
$380,000 on 11/5/04 to Snowden Grove Investors

$37,538,645 (Madison County)
$9,722,219 (Desoto County)
$47,260,864 (Total)

68 loans in Madison County, 17 in Desoto.
Average loan size: $624,906
32 banks

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Geithner has never known what he's doing



Would be funny if it wasn't so sad and true.

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Tempest in a teapot or record-breaking fraud? Mississippi Valley Title sues Evans brothers alleging fraud.

Related post: Banks loaned nearly $40 million to Evans

Did a huge case of mortgage fraud take place in Madison County? Mississippi Valley Title and its parent company, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, filed suit within the last several weeks in Madison County Chancery Court against Jackson attorney Charles Evans, Jr. and his brother, Jon C. Evans, alleging fraud.

JJ is reviewing court documents as well as conducting its own investigation about this potential scandal. Charles Evans, Jr. is an attorney who was certified by Mississippi Valley Title Insurance Company to provide title certificates for real estate insured by MVT. Jon Evans controlled or owned 25 companies (most of them were LLC's. See note below). These companies bought properties in Madison County and obtained multiple mortgages for each property. The mortgages ranged from approximately $300,000 to nearly $1.5 million apiece. Charles Evans apparently issued the title certificates for these properties.

Mortgages were obtained from many Mississippi banks by the Defendants. National banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and others (except for Regions) were avoided. Cedar Lake Investors alone obtained sixteen mortgages for only a few properties of prime real estate in Madison (it owned a tract on the corner of Hwy 463 and Highland Colony Parkway for example) from Bancorp South, Bankfirst, Bankplus, Britton & Koontz, Citizens National Bank of Meridian, Community Bank, Consumer National Bank, First Bank (McComb), Merchants & Farmers, Madison County Bank, National Bank of Commerce, Omnibank, Regions, and State Bank & Trust. The total amount issued for just Cedar Lake was $9,976,192.

A review of only a few other deeds of trust for other properties showed mortgages issued by Bank of Holmes County, Bank of Yazoo, and banks in Warren County, Copiah, and others in Mississippi. If the allegations in the lawsuit are true and the information JJ has uncovered so far is any indication, the amount of money involved could be a staggering amount.

Mississippi Valley Title gets Temporary Restraining Order
Mississippi Valley Title and others filed several actions against the Evans brothers and their various companies. (See below for other lawsuits). MVT filed a Complaint for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction and Other Relief on September 18, 2009 (MVT is represented by Adams & Reese) in which it alleged fraud. Copy of lawsuit . The motion for the TRO alleged the Defendants "fraudulently and intentionally obtained mortgages on properties located in Madison County and throughout the State.
2. These mortgages were obtained through fraudulent and/or inaccurate misrepresentations on certificates of title issued by Charles H. Evans to Plaintiffs. In reliance on these fraudulent and inaccurate certificates of title, Plaintiffs issued title insurance. The details of this fraudulent activity are outlined in the affidavit of Brad Jones, which is incorporated by reference and attached hereto as Exhibit 1." Copy of motion

The Court granted the TRO on the same day and stated:
"1. Charles H. Evans was an approved attorney for Plaintiffs and provided title certificates for certain lands owned or controlled by Defendants....
3. Charles H. Evans provided certificates of title to Mississippi Valley Title upon which title insurance policies were issued.
4. Based on the evidence, including a sworn affidavit, there is a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits." Copy of order

The Court froze all assets of the Defendants and ordered an inspection of the books within five days of the order's "entrance", a list of all real property owned, and a list of all financial institutions where "the Defendants have assets.".

Exhibit 1 goes into more detail about how the fraud occurred. Unfortunately, Mississippi Valley Title filed the exhibit under seal and claimed "Public disclosure of the information contained in the affidavit may cause harm to both Plaintiffs and Defendants in this case. Furthermore, public disclosure of the information contained in the affidavit may violate applicable financial privacy laws." Copy of Motion to file under seal and Order

Is that really the case, or is it more a case of if all these banks discover they were ripped off by a scheme involving Charles Evans, they might start filing claims against Mississippi Valley Title? One must ask why the Court couldn't simply redact the personal and private financial information as the public has a very strong interest in learning how large-scale real estate scams such as the one they allege, operated and deceived so many people and banks. One would think the Court would pay more attention to the issue of transparency as well as protecting the public from scam artists.

The Court extended the TRO on October 9. Copy of Order granting extension. Up until this point, John Collete has represented Jon Evans. Mr. Colette recently filed a motion to withdraw from the case but the plaintiffs are fighting his attempt to withdraw. The Plaintiff's response makes several claims against Colette and the Evans brothers. Colette stated he was withdrawing because Evans was supposedly represented by counsel from his Errors & Omissions coverage. Mississippi Valley Title argued that no lawyer from the insurance company has appeared to represent any of the defendants, no list of properties was provided as ordered by the Court in its TRO, Charles Evans "failed to produce any information or documents as ordered by the Court." It accuses Mr. Colette of filing his withdrawal motion as a "strategic ploy" to buy time for the Defendants and accused them of trying to "manipulate this court". Response to Motion to Withdraw

It is also important to note that the Plaintiffs have not specified a dollar amount for the alleged fraud. Mississippi Valley Title at this time probably has no idea what the total is (if fraud indeed did take place) and its motions show right now, it is just trying to determine exactly what happened.

Other banks file complaints
Meanwhile, Community Bank and Cadence Bank have filed their own lawsuits against the Evans brothers. Community Bank filed a "Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Reformation, Equitable Lien, and Other Equitable Relief" on September 11, 2009 against two of the Evans' companies: Old Agency Business Park Inc. and Madison Avenue Development Company, LLC (Hint to Community: You might want to look at Cedar Lake. Does $720,000 ring a bell?). Copy of Complaint

Community Bank states Madison Avenue issued a Deed of Trust for $776, 129.50 in 2006 for three acres of property and that Madison Avenue Development did not have title to the property. The bank asks the Court to transfer the property to Madison and give its lien first priority and makes several other requests in the alternative if this one is denied. Community Bank realizes it might be behind other creditors and is probably trying to file an action to jump to the front of the "line".

Cadence Bank filed a similar action against Old Agency Business Park, Inc. on October 2, 2009. Cadence stated the Defendant gave it a Deed of Trust for $600,200 in 2003 (Hint to Cadence: You might want to look at the Deed of Trust for $760,241 you got from Cedar Lake in January 2005.). The complaint asks for a correction to be made to the Deed of Trust and in the alternative asks that the Court give its lien first position. Copy of complaint

It should be interesting to see how many Mississippi banks are dragged into this as its clear something occured on a large scale. If the banks were defrauded by Jon and Charles Evans, it must also be asked if Mississippi Valley Title is liable for any fraudulent acts committed by Charles. The country is littered with massive real estate and mortgage fraud cases over the last few years. One can only hope the same thing didn't happen in Mississippi.

Note (This note is about the MVT lawsuit): These companies are owned/controlled by Jon Evans according to the lawsuit and ownership is verified by Secretary of State's website:
1. Woodgreen Development Corp (Filed intent to dissolve 9/25/09)
2. White Oaks Investment LLC
3. Westwoods Investments LLC
4. Twinbrook Run Development Company LLC. Jackson attorney James Bell's firm is
mentioned as a registered agent. According to a letter filed with the SOS, his firm represented quite a few of the Evans' companies as a registered agent.
5. Town Park of Madison LLC
6. Snowden Lane Investments LLC. James Bell is registered agent. Evans is member.
7. Snowden Grove Investors LLC
8. Old Agency Business Park, Inc. Filed intent to dissolve on 9/25/08.
9. Nottaway Pointe, LLC
10. Madison Avenue Development Co. LLC
11. Highland of Ridgeland, Inc.
12. Highland Development Group, Inc. (Dissolved in 2004)
13. Highland CE Corp. (Dissolved in 2004)
14. Hanover Investments LLC. The registered agent and member is Lynne Knight. However, the address listed for her, 1542 Brecon, Jackson MS, is owned by Jon C. Evans
15. Colony Construction Ltd. Filed intent to dissolve on 9/25/08.
16. Clear Creek Development LLC
17. Cedar Lake Investors LLC
18. CE Development LLC. Filed intent to dissolve on 9/25/08.
19. C. H. Evans Company Dissolved in 1998.
20. C&L Inc. Dissolved in 2004.
21. Brisbane Centre LLC
22. Brashear Heath LLC
23. 463 Development Company LLC

These companies are owned by Charles Evans according to lawsuit and verified on Secretary of State's website:
1. Windsor Pass LLC (Jon is registered agent)
2. Park Place Commons LLC (Jon is registered agent)

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Update on the Birmingham Blow-up

The trial of Birmingham Mayor and former Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford is currently underway in Alabama. Bloomberg reports "The 61-year-old Democrat goes on trial today, charged in a November 2008 federal indictment with taking cash, Rolex watches and designer clothes in exchange for helping to steer $7.1 million in fees to an Alabama investment banker as the county refinanced its sewer debt." Article (Good article, well worth reading). Birmingham Weekly also offers some good coverage of the trial.

It was the refinancing of this sewer debt with interest-rate swap derivatives that blew up Jefferson County and forced it into what the article called Armageddon. Something that Rick Hill and Frank Melton attempted to do to Jackson earlier this year.

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Tonight: Nathan cooks at The Auditorium

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Robbie Bell case update: Yerger denies Motion to Reassign

Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger denied a Motion to Reassign in the lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Hall against Robbie Bell. Ms. Hall filed the motion on August 27, 2009, asking Judge Yerger reassign the case to fellow Circuit Judge William Kidd. The motion argued other cases involving the same events were already before Judge Kidd and that in the interest of judicial economy, the Court would best be served by reassigning the case to a Judge already familiar with the issues, events, and witnesses. Copy of Motion, Response, Plaintiff's Reply to Response, and Order , Motion for Reassignment

Judge Yerger denied the Motion on October 7, 2009. It should be pointed out it was Judge Kidd who presided over the criminal proceedings for George Bell, III's guilty plea. It should also be pointed out Ed Peters was Ms. Bell's initial attorney. The same Ed Peters who was thick as thieves with Frank Melton and it was Judge Yerger who did everything he could to help Melton's young carjacking protege, Michael Taylor, escape justice. See earlier post: Frank & Yerger special. So the question must be asked about this case: Is the fix in?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Robbie Bell: "You promised me that you were just going out to get Gatorade!"

The lawsuit filed by Elizabeth Hall against Robbie Bell heats up as Ms. Hall filed a response to Ms. Bell's Motion to Dismiss last Friday in Hinds County Circuit Court. Copy of Response.
Ms. Bell argued no legal duty was owed to Ms. Hall even if all the facts alleged in her complaint were true. The Response claims:

"5. The kidnapping of Elizabeth Hall was made possible through the brandishing of a handgun by George Bell, III. Exhibit "A" is an affidavit of Elizabeth Hall. It is clear from this affidavit the only reason the kidnapping was successful is because the Plaintiff was in fear for her life due to the handgun. Exhibit "B" is a Supplementary Offense Report from Case number 2007-179187. This report further supports the fact that George Bell, III was able to force Elizabeth to leave with him because he had a handgun. The report states in relevant portion "still armed with a handgun George forced Elizabeth into the car she was driving." See Exhibit "B". Copy of exhibits

6. These facts are relevant because it is believed the handgun used by George Bell, III was owned by and/or registered to Robbie Bell. Based upon information and belief, the handgun used by George Bell, III was a .38 Caliber Smith and Wesson......

7. If Robbie Bell's handgun was used to effectuate the kidnapping, the Plaintiff respectfully submits that Robbie Bell was a substantial factor in causing the Plaintiff's injuries..." It should be noted that at the time of the kidnapping, Bell was staying at his mother's home. He was a fugitive from the law as there was an active arrest warrant for Simple Domestic Violence and the police had confiscated his firearms from Ms. Spencer's home.

The Response further argues "the evidence will show that Robbie Bell knew or should have known George Bell, III had been taking drugs throughout the night, one of which was cocaine.... The Plaintiff submits that Robbie Bell let someone she knew had committed capital murder leave her home high on drugs with her loaded handgun."

The Response also claims Ms. Bell made several questionable and suspicious statements. Ms. Hall testified in the Attorney General's report "that upon Robbie Bell seeing that George Bell had brought Elizabeth back to the Trawick Drive home, Robbie Bell stated "You promised me that you were just going out to get Gatorade. You promised me!" (See exhibits) and that Robbie Bell did have some control over Mr. Bell and was able to give him "permission" to leave. Ms. Bell is also accused of helping Bell avoid prosecution for the June 2007 beating of Ms. Spencer:

"Based upon information and belief, Robbie Bell helped George Bell, III avoid prosecution of these charges by enrolling him in Narcanon, a substance abuse rehabilitation center. Also, it is believed that while George Bell was in Narcanon, Robbie Bell was instrumental in getting Heather Spencer to ultimately drop these charges.."

This is a very good point and this commentator has always wondered why the District Attorney did not prosecute Ms. Bell for helping her son avoid arrest. Bell was broke yet someone paid for him to enter an expensive treatment center out of state for three months while there was an active arrest warrant for him. Ms. Bell hosted a dinner party for Mr. Bell the night after he returned home. At what point do these actions violate Sections 97-9-105, 107 of the Mississippi Code?

"§ 97-9-107. Hindering prosecution in the second degree.
(1) A person commits the crime of hindering prosecution in the second degree if, with the intent to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another for conduct constituting a misdemeanor, he renders criminal assistance to the other person."

a person “renders criminal assistance” to another if he knowingly:
(a) Harbors or conceals the other person; ....
(c) Provides or aids in providing the other person with money, transportation, weapon, disguise or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension...."

The exhibits include a Summary Report of a statement given to the AG's office by Ms. Hall. The report contains several damning statements:

"On the way there (Ms. Bell's home), he called someone on his cellular telephone and stated: "I'm on my way home, I'm on my way home." Hall related that she could tell that it was a woman's voice on the phone, however, she did not know who's voice it was. ....

(At the home) Hall related that George then told her that his mom was inside. She then insisted on seeing his mother before going back inside the house.

Moments later, George used his cellular telephone to call his mother. Yet after two attempts, he did not get an answer. Hall related then, all of a sudden, Robbie walked out of the house looking unrefined in her appearance (contrast that to the well-known footage of her at the gas station in the pink shirt and nicely-done hair). Basically, her hair was not fixed and she appeared to be tired. She explained that Robbie was wearing a black in color slinky jacket with a matching black in color shirt underneath. She had on a pair of Khaki pants with about a dime sized spot of blood on the leg of her pants.

Hall related that upon Robbie noticing her, Robbie questioned her about what she was doing there.... Hall related that Robbie then turned and looked at George and said "You promised me that you were just going out to get Gatorade. You promised me!"

Not quite the picture about Ms. Bell's as painted by some, is it? According to this testimony, Ms. Bell was not exactly held against her will as she has claimed in previous court documents or by some of her defenders. As this case goes forth in the Court system, more facts about what happened that night are becoming known, something feared by a few people in Jackson.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Harvard gets nailed

Jefferson County isn't the only entity who gambled with interest rate swaps and lost big. Bloomberg reports:
"Harvard University’s failed bet that interest rates would rise cost the world’s richest school at least $500 million in payments to escape derivatives that backfired.

Harvard paid $497.6 million to investment banks during the fiscal year ended June 30 to get out of $1.1 billion of interest-rate swaps intended to hedge variable-rate debt for capital projects, the report said. The university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said it also agreed to pay $425 million over 30 to 40 years to offset an additional $764 million in swaps...." Article

Yet Rick Hill loves these things.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Night Lights tonight at The Auditorium









Website for show

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Will new rules on condos affect Downtown?

Will new underwriting guidelines by FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac affect real estate development in the Jackson metro area? It's not a hypothetical question as Yahoo News reported FHA is tightening its underwriting guidelines for condos and mixed-use developments:
"The Federal Housing Administration is getting ready to implement new rules that could, in some cases, make it harder to get a mortgage to buy a condominium unit.
The new rules were supposed to take effect Oct. 1. But the FHA announced in mid-September that it would delay implementation of the new rules until Nov. 2, and that it might modify some of the policies.
Of the several new rules and requirements, there are four that most directly affect people who want to buy condos with FHA-insured mortgages:
* "Spot approvals" are eliminated, and now the entire project has to meet FHA approval before a borrower can get an FHA-insured loan.
* A maximum of 30 percent of the condo project's units can have FHA-insured mortgages (there was no such limitation previously).
* Before the FHA will insure a mortgage on a condo, at least half the units must have already been sold (again, there was no such limitation previously).
* At least half of the condo project's property owners will have to occupy their units, down from 51 percent..."

Unfortunately there are even more severe restrictions which could further crimp the sale of condos and apartments. FHA stated in Mortgagee Letter 2009-19 the following guidelines would take place October 1 (Now November 2, See section V of letter):
"No more than 25 percent of the property’s total floor area in a project can be used for commercial purposes. The commercial portion of the project must be of a nature that is homogeneous with residential use, which is free of adverse conditions to the occupants of the individual condominium units."

"No more than 10 percent of the units may be owned by one investor. This will apply to developers/builders that subsequently rent vacant and unsold units."

FHA financing now accounts for nearly half of all mortgages underwritten. FHA requires less money down (3.5%) than do conventional loans but has a maximum loan limit of $271,000 in Mississippi. The appraisal process and credit score requirements are somewhat less stringent as well. While Fannie Mae issues mortgages up to $417,000, it requires higher credit scores and tightened its guidelines earlier this year. The Wall Street Journal reported in May:
"The government-backed mortgage-finance company stopped guaranteeing mortgages in condo buildings where fewer than 70% of the units have been sold, up from 51%....
Fannie and Freddie are both set to increase fees on condo buyers next month. Buyers without at least a 25% down payment will have to pay closing-cost fees equal to 0.75% of their loan, regardless of the borrower's credit score. The companies say these fees are necessary to protect against higher default rates....." article

Condo projects nationwide have burned lenders with much higher default rates and plummeting market values. These new guidelines will severely impact new mixed-used projects as developers will be faced with the twin prospect of overcoming the hurdles of the 25% mixed-use rule and 10% ownership limit. Prospective homebuyers can get a loan through local banks that can service the loans themselves, however, such loans usually carry higher down payment requirements, shorter terms, and higher credit scores.

The obvious question is whether the new regulations will affect projects such as the King Edward Hotel. Ben Allen, the President of Downtown Jackson Partners, told JJ most of the "downtown" projects should avoid the negative impact of the restrictions. Mr. Allen said projects such as the King Edward Hotel and Standard Life building used historical tax credits as part of their financing. In order to qualify for the tax credits, these mixed-used projects must rent out the residential units for seven years before they can sell them to qualified buyers. Mr. Allen said purely residential projects did not qualify for said tax credits. These projects and others such as Mandalay, the $35 million, 360 unit condominium development slated for the old Rapids on the Reservoir site, are probably going to find it more difficult to find qualified buyers after the new rules are implemented. While downtown will probably escape the latest credit ax, other projects in the Jackson area will probably not be so lucky.

Note: Article written by financial blogger "Mish" Shedlock on how the new rules are going to render condos in other markets worthless.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Foreclosures worsening in Mississippi

Realtytrac published its Foreclosure Report for the third quarter of 2009. While Mississippi only ranked 40th nationwide in foreclosure activity, Mississippi foreclosures surged 50% from the second quarter of 2009 and 241% from the same period a year ago. Alabama fell 7% from the previous quarter and increased 173% from the prior year. Louisiana increased 21% from the second quarter and 98% from a year ago. Tennessee increased 4% from the second quarter and fell 9% from 2008's third quarter. Report

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Mississippi affected by Chinese drywall problems?

Housingwire reports Mississippi will be one of the "hot spots" for Chinese drywall lawsuits in the near future:
"Many homeowners along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, whose properties were damaged during Hurricane Katrina, likely used Chinese drywall to make repairs. These rebuilding projects took place before the industry became aware that some types of Chinese drywall contained high levels of damaging chemicals that would corrode pipes, emit foul smells......"

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mississippi lags behind other states in protecting investors.

Someone asks you to invest your money in his project. He provides you with a business plan, financial statements, and other documents. Everything so far seems promising, however, you decide to investigate his background to make sure he is not a con artist. A quick check of the SEC and FINRA websites show no disciplinary actions. You then examine the Mississippi Secretary of State's website for violations (the SOS has jurisdiction over securities violations in Mississippi). Unfortunately you the investor, are out of luck as Mississippi does not post violations of its securities laws nor the names of those the state disciplines on its website.

This is not the standard practice as 39 states (see note below) such as Texas, Tennessee, and Alabama protect investors from chastened Stanfords and Madoffs by posting their disciplinary records online. Alabama classifies all "Administrative Orders" by year since 2001. A list of orders for that year is posted as well as the date, action, and the respondent. The website also provides the reader with a copy of the final report (that contains the facts of the case). The other states treat such actions in a similar manner.

Investors suffer from Mississippi's failure to follow the example set by these states, as unethical brokers and dealers' misdeeds are hidden from public scrutiny. While in neighboring states a potential investor can check someone's background online within minutes, in Mississippi he has to file a public records request and wait fourteen business days for an answer, an ironic twist that benefits those convicted of wrongdoing.

Tom Freeland, an Oxford lawyer, said "The whole design of state securities laws is a disclosure model. Getting information to investors is the point of those laws. Obviously, making information available in the broadest possible form is the best way to accomplish that. The Secretary of State should put any public information about disciplinary actions on its website so they will be readily available to investors, journalists, and the public at large."

Mississippi has a duty to do all it can to protect its citizens from scam artists. The current financial meltdown has seen a sharp rise in crooked investment schemes. All too often the shysters never stop trying to trick people out of their money after getting caught. It is usually not professional investors such as Leland Speed that are victims, but average people that have some money but little expertise, thus making them perfect targets for smooth-talking thieves in three-piece suits. The best way not to lose money in investment scams is to avoid them in the first place; a goal best served by posting violations online. Mississippi should enter the 21st century and help its citizens avoid the local Madoffs for whom ignorance is indeed bliss.

Note: Other states that post violations online: Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Caronlina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Wisconsin, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, California, Colorado, Michigan, Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Kansas,

States that do not post violations: South Dakota, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Arkansas, New York, West Virginia, Mississippi


Note: Attempts made to contact Mr. Hosemann's office for comment were unsuccessful.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
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