Thursday, December 20, 2018

Receiver Sues Butler Snow & Baker Donelson in Lamar Adams case

Highlights:
- BS-FAS CEO, Billings, Adams allegedly and illegally acted as unlicensed brokers selling unregistered investments. - Cannada allegedly advised there were no penalties for doing so.
-Adams and Butler Snow had a relationship that from 2011 to May 2018.  
-Butler Snow personnel allegedly pitched timber investments to its clients
-Baker Donelson lawyer & lobbyist pitched investments to BD clients as unlicensed brokers
-Baker Donelson was aware they were using firm to promote their private business to clients.  
-Butler Snow Advisory, Former CEO Matt Thornton,  Brent Alexander, Jon Seawright charged with violating Mississippi RICO Act
-Butler Snow sued for attorney malpractice
-Receiver seeks to hold BD and BS liable for damages awarded  against other defendants.  

Winter finally came for Lord Snow and Baker Donelson.  Receiver Alysson Mills sued the two prestigious law firms in U.S. District Court yesterday to recover commissions paid to them in the Lamar Adams timber fraud.  The complaint is posted below.  Start on page 8.  The complaint charges employees at both law firms worked with Lamar Adams to sell phony timber investments to firm clients. 

The SEC accused Lamar Adams of operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded 150 investors out of more than $85 million since 2005, in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on April 20.   The SEC said Adams sold bogus timber rights, deeds, and promissory notes guaranteeing 13% interest rates.  Mr. Adams pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of wire fraud.  The Justice Department said in that case Adams defrauded 320 investors of more than $164 million.  The Court sentenced Adams to serve 235 months in prison 

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves appointed attorney Alysson Mills to be the receiver in the case.  She will recover assets, distribute them among the victims, and provide progress reports to the court.  Mills sued  to recover over $16 million in commissions from several "promoters". The promoters allegedly helped Adams sell his phony timber investments to unsuspecting investors.  The defendants are Michael Billings, William McHenry, and Terry Kelly as well as companies they own.  She has recovered over $2 million.  However, Ms. Mills stated in her bi-monthly report that she was seeking commission repayments from ten unnamed parties.

Butler Snow

The complaint states Adams and Pinnacle Trust formed the Madison Timber Fund, LLC. It sought to raise $10 million through the sale of 100 shares at a share price of $100,000. Butler Snow lawyers worked with Adams on the PPM. However, the PPM did not attract any investors.

Butler Snow created an Advisory Services division that would provide “non-legal business advice” in 2011. In other words, Lord Snow was branching off into areas that had nothing to do with practicing law. The leadership of Lord Snow doesn’t escape the Receiver’s notice:

Under the leadership of Matt Thornton, its President and CEO, Butler Snow Advisory sought to “fast-track” its own business by acquiring “top-level talent.”

Mike Billings joined Lord Snow in 2012 as a “strategic advisor.” The new “Advisory Services” division saw the profits that could be made with Lamar Adams:

41. Butler Snow Advisory was young, and Billings was brand new, when in May 2012 the opportunity to “strategically advise” Madison Timber arose. Adams wanted assistance with a “$30-50 million capital raise.” Thornton alerted Don Cannada and Barry Cannada, a senior partner and the Vice Chair of Butler Snow, respectively, to the prospects of this new business.

42. A series of meetings followed at Butler Snow’s Ridgeland office. After, Thornton told Adams “I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and believe we could be a piece of the puzzle in terms of strategic business growth and the associated financing/capital strategies to accompany growth.” Thornton proposed that Adams engage Butler Snow Advisory to provide “strategic business development, strategic financing/capital strategies and overall management advisory services” and, separately, engage Butler Snow law firm to update the preexisting PPM.

43. Internally Thornton and Billings discussed how Butler Snow Advisory would be compensated. They proposed a monthly fee of $3,500 “to assist in strategic business development” plus a “success fee” for “individual projects.” If Thornton and Billings succeeded in establishing a fund, they proposed to receive half of Madison Timber’s management fee plus 33% (later reduced to 25%) of Madison Timber’s carried interest....
43. Internally Thornton and Billings discussed how Butler Snow Advisory would be compensated.
They proposed a monthly fee of $3,500 “to assist in strategic business development” plus a “success fee” for “individual projects.” If Thornton and Billings succeeded in establishing a fund, they proposed to receive half of Madison Timber’s management fee plus 33% (later reduced to 25%) of Madison Timber’s carried interest.

Adams bit the hook in August 2012 and “formally engaged” Lord Snow Advisory to “focus on strategic business development.” However, the Ridgeland law firm didn’t leave the rainmaking to Lamar Adams. Rainmaking is what Lord Snow does best and the timber scheme was no exception:

45. While lawyers at Butler Snow updated the preexisting PPM, Thornton and Billings began pitching Madison Timber to high net-worth clients. During this time they often copied Barry Cannada on their emails to keep him apprised of their progress.

46. They had early success with a high net-worth client in New Orleans. The investor was not interested in investing in a fund, but he was willing to entertain a “joint venture” in a “standing tract.” Billings and Adams made a presentation to the investor that falsely represented that Madison Timber had “timber sales” of $9,576,252 in 2009; $8,087,072 in 2010; and $10,034,024 in 2011. The impressed investor wired Madison Timber $450,000, and Madison Timber delivered to Butler Snow an $8,000 “commission check.” One month later, after the same investor wired Madison Timber another $1,050,000, Madison Timber delivered to Butler Snow a $15,750 “commission check.”

Thornton and Billings looked for similar clients to purchase timber shares. They created a list of over thirty local individuals and families as prospects. Many people on the list purchased the phony timber shares.

However, don’t forget the legal arm of Lord Snow. Lord Snow lawyers created a PPM in February 2013 that sought to raise $100 million by selling $1,000 shares at a price of $100,000 per share. Lord Snow moved up from local yokels and began to pitch the shares to larger, institutional investors. Unfortunately (sarcasm) for Team Thornton, the PPM fell flat but there was a timber lining in the cloud of failure as many of the prospects invested in “standing tracts” of timber land. Adams delivered commission checks for each sale to Lord Snow.

Hmmm….. pitching investments to investors sure does sound like something a broker would do. Of course, brokers are subject to all sorts of regulations but some people see such things as trifling matters to be ignored. The Receiver  said “Thornton, Billings, and Butler Snow “acted as unlicensed brokers, in violation of federal and state law.” None of them ever registered with the SEC. Indeed, Ms. Mills used Lord Snow’s own words against itself:

56. Butler Snow knew or should have known what it was doing was unlawful. Among the notes in Butler Snow’s Madison Timber files is this comment from Don Cannada in 2009: “Very broad definition of what a broker is . . . Includes one who for a commission procures a purchaser or prospect etc. See 73-35-31 for penalties. Says you can’t pay an unlicensed broker, but doesn’t provide any penalty if you do so.”

The complaint states that the Thornton team was more than happy to cash the checks while doing little to earn them. No one at the law firm even performed a “cursory inspection” of Madison Timber. Such an inspection would have quickly revealed the bogus nature of the company. The so-called business experts at Butler Snow should have realized that the promised profits were “300%-400%” better than the market rate of return at the time.Ms. Mills says Lamar Adams knew exactly what he was doing when he engaged Lord Snow:

58. Instead, Butler Snow aided and abetted Madison Timber’s growth, lending Adams and Madison Timber their influence, professional expertise, and clients. Butler Snow’s imprimatur was powerful, and they knew it. They even agreed to serve as a “referral” for other firms’ clients. In July 2013 “Baker Donelson” sought “a few referrals” to validate Madison Timber. Thornton responded within minutes: “No problem by me – thanks!”

Billings was making so much money off of the timber scheme that he left Lord Snow in December 2013 and began working directly for Lamar Adams. Adams stopped paying the $3,500 monthly retainer fee to Lord Snow. However, Adams engaged Lord Snow to assist him in other projects such as the Oxford Springs development in North Mississippi. The complaint makes it clear that Adams enjoyed the full range of Lord Snow’s diverse offerings: legal services, business advice, and lobbying. Butler Snow, in true Shylock fashion, continued to bill Adams for services rendered after he was caught. Lord Snow finally terminated the relationship on May 11 – two days after he pleaded guilty and 11 days after he was indicted.



Baker Donelson

Jon Seawright is a lawyer at Baker Donelson while Brent Alexander is a lobbyist at the firm. Seawright and Alexander created a timber investment fund, Alexander Seawright Timber Fund I, in 2011 that would invest in Madison Timber. They began pitching the investments to Baker Donelson clients:

75. Throughout this time period Alexander and Seawright pitched their fund to potential investors, including Baker Donelson clients, as an exclusive “friends and family” fund. Alexander often used the phrase “simple, elegant and profitable” to describe the fund. He told investors that “we are in it”— a lie; neither Alexander nor Seawright invested their own money in the fund—“our neighbors, lots of physicians, many of the attorneys at Baker Donelson and other firms, a United States Senator etc.”

78. Alexander and Seawright specifically targeted individuals who had recently sold assets because they knew those individuals had money to invest. Such individuals included clients for whom Baker Donelson had recently closed transactions.

Ms. Mills claims victims “reasonably believed” their investments in Madison Timber and Alexander Seawright Timber Fund I, were “backed and promoted by, and had been vetted by, Baker Donelson.”

Remember when the Kingfish pointed out that Baker Donelson was promoting Alexander’s financial expertise on its website back on May 4?


Baker Donelson bragged about Alexander's investment expertise on its website:


A rapidly growing area of Mr. Alexander's practice is advising venture capital and related investors on public policy issues. He has passed the Series 65 Registered Investment Advisor Exam, an examination required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) for individuals who serve as principals in, or advisors to, hedge funds that invest in stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. He has also passed the Series 3 National Commodity Futures Exam, an examination required by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the National Futures Association (NFA) and the SEC for individuals who serve as principals in, or advisors to hedge funds which trade futures and options.

Well, the Receiver noticed as well:

81. Alexander and Seawright referred potential investors to Baker Donelson’s website, which shows that Jon Seawright is not merely a shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Jackson office but an elected member of the firm’s national governing Board of Directors. Baker Donelson is a law firm, not an investment advisory firm, but its website touts Jon Seawright’s advanced degree in taxation and “extensive experience” in business development and capital formation. Its website presents Brent Alexander as a “Senior Public Policy Advisor” who is qualified by regulators to serve as a principal in, or advisor to, hedge funds and who has a “rapidly growing” practice in “advising venture capital and related investors.”
82. Baker Donelson knew Alexander and Seawright relied on their affiliation with Baker Donelson in securing investments and allowed it.

83. Alexander and Seawright used Baker Donelson’s Jackson office’s address for official business. They and Adams held “closings” at Baker Donelson’s Jackson office. They used Baker Donelson’s runners to pick up investors’ checks.

84. Alexander and Seawright enlisted their colleagues at Baker Donelson, including in offices in other states, to introduce them to potential investors. They asked their colleagues to “[h]elp us get a meeting if you’re able,” adding “[i]f you can get us in the door, it would mean a great deal.” Their colleagues obliged.
The next section in the complaint is appropriately called "easy money" (p.23).  Ms. Mills charges the Baker Boyz did little work in exchange for the commissions.  Each contract for sale of shares contained a promise that Seawright or Alexander would personally inspect the land that was the subject of the timber deed.  No such inspections were performed.  They couldn't inspect the properties because they didn't exist.  However, they were more than happy to get paid:

89.   Between 2011 and April 2018, Alexander and Seawright withdrew over $980,000 from the Alexander Seawright Timber Fund I, representing their “shares” of investors’ returns.  In addition Adams separately paid them over $600,000 representing undisclosed “birddog fees.”

90.   On information and belief, Adams also sometimes paid Alexander and Seawright bonuses, including Christmas bonuses in cash that he had delivered to Alexander and Seawright at their Baker Donelson office.

Alexander and Seawright thus acted as unlicensed brokers, a violation of state and federal law.  Unfortunately for more victims, the Baker Boyz actually started thinking and not in a good way:

101. In 2015 Alexander and Seawright had an idea.   They had been making monthly investments  with  Adams  of  between  $100,000  and  $500,000  using  other  people’s  money. Alexander proposed that “[we] systemize this a little and take it to the next level.” Over the next two years Alexander and Seawright would brainstorm a new model that could make Alexander and Seawright rich.  Alexander estimated that if a fund put $1 million in Madison Timber and then reinvested the principal and interest each month for ten years it would make $17 to $18 million. What if the fund  put $10 million in?

102. The idea consumed Alexander.  He texted Seawright, “Woke at [sic] at 2 thinking about the structure of the timber pool.  We pull this off, we get rich.”   Using Baker Donelson’s conference rooms and resources, he hosted meetings with and made presentations to accountants, investors, and  advisors to push his idea and debate the merits of a five-year versus ten-year model. He  reported   the  models  gave  people  “much  more  level  headed”  than  he  “an  orgasm  as  to  its  potential.”  Fearing that “now that they have seen up our skirts” people will “try to cut us out,”  he had prospective partners execute a non-disclosure agreement that Seawright drafted.

103.     Alexander  and  Seawright  gave  their  new  model  a  new  company  and  named  it Alexander Seawright Timber Fund II, LLC.
However, they had problems pitching the new venture as prospects.  One investor pointed out that the Baker Boyz were not invested in the fund and thus had no "skin in the game."  However, they found their pigeon in a Baker Donelson client who had just sold a major asset.  The "key investor" placed $6 million in the fund.  Unfortunately, the investor was burned:


112.  Just  days  before  Alexander  and  Seawright  would  have  deployed  their  “key  investor”  and  client’s  money,  Adams  turned  himself  in.   As  news  spread,  the  investor   sought information  from  Alexander.   Alexander  told  the  investor  that  Alexander  and   Seawright  were victims:
Investor: How did you get hooked with him?
Alexander: My clients are hanging with me.  They know I am a victim.
Investor: To think I was  almost out of my entire life earnings makes me shiver
Alexander: Everyone knew him.  Country club fixture.
Alexander: Would not let you lose your savings. Investor: Man it was close ...a day or two...
Alexander: To be clear, Jon and I were the victims of fraud.
Victims Indeed


Counts
 Conspiracy to help Lamar Adams sell phony timber investments: All defendants.
Aiding and Abetting: All defendants
Gross Negligence: All defendants
Violation of Mississippi Fraudulent Transfer Act: Butler Snow Advisory, Thornton, Alexander Seawright, Alexander, Seawright
Mississippi RICO Act: Butler Snow Advisory, Thornton, Alexander Seawright, Alexander, Seawright
Joint Venture Liability: Alexander Seawright, Alexander, Seawright
Attorney Malpractice: Butler Snow
Negligent Retention & Supervision: Butler Snow, Baker Donelson


The complaint also charges Butler Snow is liable for the acts of Butler Snow Advisory.  It asks Judge Reeves to declare that Lord Snow is liable for all damages caused by Butler Snow Advisory.  The same is asked for Brent Alexander and Jon Seawright concerning Alexander Seawright.    The Receiver closes with a request to declare Baker Donelson vicariously liable for all damages awarded against Seawright and Alexander.

Related Posts
 Lamar Adams swindled over $164 million from victims in Ponzi scheme.  
Billings Battles Receiver 
Receiver goes after millions in commissions in timber Ponzi scheme.  
Receiver records $2 million.  
Lamar Adams Sentencing Postponed 
 Federal Home Cooking in Lamar Adams Case? 
Tree Falls Against Pinnacle in Lamar Adams Case 
WSJ Blasts Judge Reeves in Lamar Adams Case 
Judge to SEC & SOS: Not so Fast 
McHenry sues Lamar Adams, claims he was duped.  
A look into how the timber scheme worked.
SEC opposes Delbert's opposition.  
 SEC wants receiver in Ponzi scheme case, Delbert opposes.
Victim sues Timber Trolls 
Lamar Adams pleads guilty.  
SEC: Ponzi scheme began in 2004. 
Flashback Friday
Clearcutting the timber. 
Wicker wobbed in Ponzi scheme.
Pinnacle Trust issues statement on Ponzi scheme
Lamar Adams waives indictment.
Feds: Lamar Adams took over $100 million in Ponzi scheme.
TIM-BERRR!!!

Kingfish note: Just one question: How do the Baker Boyz still have jobs?




129 comments:

Anonymous said...

so how much will seawright pay ?

Anonymous said...

Winter is here.

Anonymous said...

Thine heart flutters with a passionate joy as justice awakes from her slumber in the Southern District of Mississippi. Thank you, MS/MRS Mills.

Anonymous said...

Band music intensifies...

Anonymous said...

Sic'em.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Snow for Christmas! Yay!

Anonymous said...

Holy s.

This is good.

The best parts:
- BS doing basically no work in exchange for charging a bunch of fees (typical)
- BS trying to represent Billings AND investors after having represented Adams (its called conflict of interest, look it up)
- Sleazy Brett Alexander getting horned up over the thought of how rich he as going to get
- The Baker boys lying about (1) being in it themselves and (2) having done due diligence
- The Baker boys ignoring the people who said "uhh this doesn't make sense"

Anonymous said...

YES! YES! YES! I hope the moving papers had a nice Christmas decoration on them. What, no end of the year bonuses?

Bwa ha ha.

Anonymous said...

How much you think they are going to settle for?

Anonymous said...

Snow and Baker Donelson are going to fight like mad dogs to keep that money. They will even try to get the help of Cindy Hyde Smith (famous for sit with them in front for a public hanging comment) to stop the Federal government. Keep us posted KF.

Anonymous said...

Is there a money making scam in this State that Boss Hog is not involved with?

Anonymous said...

So the business advisory arms of Butler Snow and Baker Donelson reap fees for doing the legal work to set up these fraudulent Timber deals. Meanwhile certain attorneys at each law firm (or at least at Baker Donelson) are sponsors for the deals reaping a % of the deals off the top. They each make money off of this. I'm very curious as to what specific lawyers at Baker and Butler drafted these deals. As in names. Because the entire time they were making $400/hr basically making a fraud appear legal and proper. While they might not be culpable they certainly were played for fools. So who specifically are these other fools? At the very best Thorton and Seawright are fools, terrible business evaluators, poor sponsors, and deficient advisors. At worst they are directly and knowingly part of the Ponzi scheme.

Nice to see some of the largest law firms in the area lend their good names to this kind of deal.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.

Anonymous said...

GTHOM!

Anonymous said...

back in the early 2000's the legislature enacted massive tort reform legislation. those reforms severely cut into the revenues of the giant ivory tower law firms such BS who defended lawsuits. sooooooooo........ the partners were forced to come up with new ways to gin up revenues. first move was to open up a lobbying branch and eventually hire the biggest lobbyist fixer of all , one haley barbour. please understand folks, there is a huge difference between a lawyer and a political fixer. they are not the same breed. apples and oranges. consequently this once proud firm became political fixers a/k/a lobbyists . apparently the next thing BS did was get into the business of selling investments to clients. not a good idea. thats what charles schwab is for, but they did it nonetheless . once again , there is a huge difference between lawyers and investment advisors. by now it is obvious that ,at a minimum , the people at BS's investment branch could not spot a fraudster , film-flam artist like adams. now they got to deal with it. good luck BS. you gonna need it.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we should expect a HUGE bond bill out of the legislature this session with BS leading the charge. That settlement money has to come from somewhere and it may as well be the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Bringing the hammer! Brent's quotes in text/email - sheesh.

Anonymous said...

P. 105-- Somebody get John Grisham on the horn and tell him to start writing!

Will be incredible to see how all involved come out without tarnish.

Anonymous said...

People will lose their law license

This will light the house on fire

Insurance will not cover this

Anonymous said...

Butler Snow is in a roll! In the past few years the firm has gotten Ridgeland in trouble with HUD, advised failed developer Buster Bailey on his Costco development and hatched a Ponzi scheme. And that is just in Madison County MS!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Reads like a novel. Looks reeeeal bad for Butler Snow (firm). Charges against Baker Donelson (firm) are pretty weak other than the negligent employment/retention of the offending lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Did I read the phrase RICO near the end of the complaint? Is this a civil or criminal complaint? Qualified attorneys please respond. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There is a Santa Claus!!!! Pay up! and with your money, not ours!

Anonymous said...

There seems to be vey little (if any) concern for Butler Snow. Why?

Anonymous said...

@ 9:46 It's a damn fraud case. The SEC can tie you up in criminal charges quicker than you can scream "HODDY TODDY"

Anonymous said...

Civil RICO

@9:28a - he is almost done with the 2019 book headed for the galley, so this could be fodder for the 2020 novel

Anonymous said...

The Baker Donelson allegations do seem weaker, but using firm accounts and resources won't help their case.

Also, recommending [ponzi scheme] investments [for which you lied about being an investor in and lied about doing due diligence] to your client you just closed a big deal for ... YIKES.

Anonymous said...

Will Lamar Adams get royalties if Grissom writes a book about this? That does not seem right. Hotty Toddy

Anonymous said...

I love how the institutional investors were like, "LOL, no thanks," but the local country club wannabes lapped it right up.

Anonymous said...

Do I hear some industrial strength paper shredders running on full speed in the BS building? Was that Fawn Hall walking into the building at 6:30 AM? Asking for a friend.

Anonymous said...

The cry from the Federal Pen:

"Jane Clover, Jane Clover, send Brent right over!"

Not Shutterfly said...

Did Lady Billings send out those fancy Christmas cards this year?

Anonymous said...

Will Lamar Adams get royalties if Grissom writes a book about this?

This made me chuckle. Grissom was the name of the head bad-guy in the Batman movie (Michael Keaton as Batman)....bad-guy played by Jack Palance. John Grisham would like this.

Anonymous said...

Once they get finished with these pigs, Income inequality will narrow on Mississippi, the poor folks who bought these and the ones who collected commissiones are about to out of lot of money

Anonymous said...

That’s a very pretty complaint. Power to the receiver!

Anonymous said...

If a lawyer hires business strategist to get clients (besides the name), what is the difference when a lawyer hires a "runner" to get plaintiff clients (which is illegal)?

Anonymous said...

Oh shit. Don Cannada on p. 17 openly giving the green light on unlicensed B/D activities.

This is gonna be so much fun.

Anonymous said...

The details in the complaint from both the BS and Baker Donelson emails and texts are troubling for both of them. One admitted they couldn’t receive commissions for this tuoenwork but there was no penalty if they did. The other firm openly scoffed at real investors who raised questions about how such margins existed in this industry that would allow Adams to pay these rates of returns.

And neither firm ever got in a car to go visit a saw mill that was buying the timber. That would have a natural thing to do just out of curiosity!!!! When they saw there was no mill....they would have realized what was going on. But the money was too good to look behind the curtain.

Anonymous said...

I love this case. There are two sides of every story, but the Complaint seems to have a lot of meat to it. If you read the Complaint fully, it seems Ms. Mills is going after both the firms for the full amount of loss (plus or minus 85 million). Has the receiver nearly proven her case with the Complaint and its substantial references to the communications of the parties? It seems so. I wonder if people are lining up to pay for the business advisory services of BS and BD now? I bet not.

Anonymous said...

Its all good, malpractice insurance will cover it. Wait, this is our strategic business arm so not legal. Well surely the broker insurance will cover it. Wait, we are not licensed brokers. Fine, tap the associate bonus fund.

Anonymous said...

If anyone has ever tried to insure the physical damage of standing timber, they would know that's a farce. Way too expensive and not "fully insured". hahahaha bafoons, the lot of them.

Anonymous said...

Adams also sometimes paid Alexander and Seawright bonuses, including Christmas bonuses in cash that he had delivered to Alexander and Seawright at their Baker Donelson office.

I'm sure they paid taxes on those cash bonuses. An attorney with an "advanced degree in taxation" would certainly do so, right?

Anonymous said...

E&O Insurance does not cover fraud..sorry BS and BD. Better tap some other credit line or the bonus fund.

Anonymous said...

I have looked into the cost of insurance for standing timber for clients. It's not a farce, just expensive with at least a 10% deductible. I think the risk of damage to standing timber in any one year is low but for those who hate any kind of risk, insurance is available.
https://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/publications/p2911.pdf

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that Alysson Mills is court-appointed acting as a proxy for the SEC. She has the investigative files that the U.S. Attorney's office has and probably then some. She has also interviewed the victims, which means she is privy to communications between them and BS/BD/Alexander/Seawright. The Complaint is not the usual "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" because she has a lot of the evidence to back it up already. If this case survives an early dispositive motion, it is going to grind the firms to a virtual halt with discovery. My question is, why in the hell is BD still employing Seawright and Alexander? Also, I guarantee you that every federal judge in Mississippi recuses him/herself and the Fifth Circuit appoints a special district court judge. Not questioning the integrity of our federal bench, but there will certainly be no "home cooking" in this one.

Anonymous said...

How does the "intentional acts" clause in their insurance play into this? They say they were duped and didn't know it was fraudulent? I'm sure those notice of non-renewals will be forthcoming. Anyone know which insurance agent/agency handles these accounts? Should be fun to watch those claims payout. And if they aren't covered as they should be, should the insurance agent's E&O carriers have to fork out some money?

Anonymous said...

Dickie is pissed that he couldn't get in on some of that action.

Anonymous said...

They literally described a Ponzi scheme in the description of the investment...

"...Every deal has risk, but the only way that the numbers would be affected would beif we for some reason could not close the rounds on a monthly basis (and I am veryconfident we will)..."

Anonymous said...

Good call on the taxable cash income. I wonder if they did report. I also wonder what is going on at the US Attorney's office. They going to prosecute Adams and no one else? I'm sure the investors that lost the 85 million would like to see a bunch more people prosecuted. Receiver seems to have civil end of this matter tight, tight. The criminal end is up to the government. I'm sure US Attorney's office has read the Complaint that we are all reading today. Eager to see how all of this unfolds.

Anonymous said...

Suing for "commissions"? So you get caught and just have to give commissions back. They should be liable for losses to investors. Fix is in.

Anonymous said...

Just Google Butler Snow Advisory. You see a long list of hot shots, but no clients. I always wondered how that arm of Butler Snow survived on so little "business advisory" business. Matt Thornton is not qualified to run a 5k, much less a large business advisory firm. This state is overflowing with snake oil salesmen.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish: I see you note that it is the former CEO involved. Is Thornton no longer in that role?

Anonymous said...

Do not look past the “ Rico” mentioning. This is from a civil perspective but rest assured the criminal Rico charges are waiting to drop and will be used for leverage in settlement talks. This will likely initiate a federal grand jury. Not one plaintiff gets out of this with lessthand 1/2 a million in legal and professional fees.

Anonymous said...

The E&O Coverages are usually handled with major providers...AIG, Travelers,
Hartford, or a re-insurance thru Lloyds of London.

That is where the bucks are to pay the claims. Like I said earlier,
the coverage is useless if fraud is proven.

Anonymous said...

Any bets some serious "flipping" will happen? Some singing is going to happen abou who knew what(?) Roger Wicker knew? Hmmmmm......

Anonymous said...

Brent Barriere (from New Orleans, formerly of Phelps Dunbar) is lead counsel for the receiver. He's brilliant and utterly relentless.

Also, I like the attorney malpractice claim, which at least gives the law firm defendants the opportunity to demand coverage and contribution from their insurance carriers.

Anonymous said...

3:48....Matt Thornton is still listed on the website as their CEO along with a bunch of other smiling faces.

Anonymous said...

It is no illegal to be dumb and that will be Matt Thornton's best defense. Easily proven. The culprit is whoever hired him in that spot.

Anonymous said...

Typically no insurance company will cover fraud or criminal acts and that is
what we have here. The malpractice coverage does cover those acts..unless there is a rider or exemption granted at the onset of coverage.

Insurance Fraud will also send you to prison.

Anonymous said...

We will soon find out if we have any journalists that can compete with Kingfish. Complaint was filed on 12/19.

Anonymous said...

Do we know who or what tipped this off? It looks like the baker D guy’s activities. They really got greedy. How can you not know this was a fraud?

Anonymous said...

The best line in the whole thing is possibly risks b. Lamar is a fraud, no sign of that

Anonymous said...

Why are the goons at Baker D still employed?

Anonymous said...

Thornton will roll. He is not cut out for prison - federal or state. Of the named, he has the smallest pocket to go after in the civil RIco proceedings. Lamar already rolled but will make a poor witness. Thornton the opposite. My bets are on him to flip.

Grim Reaper said...

This should serve as a heads up to the coroners in Madison and surrounding counties. Suicides to follow. Alert area embalmers and crematoriums.

Anonymous said...

A question for attorneys experienced with financial fraud:
How will this impact BD and BS as law firms? Aren't attorneys and their firm directors and shareholder partners supposed to be your legal protectors and safeguard's from potential harm such as this?
How will this impact BD and BS as government relations lobbying and financial and tax adviser firms? It appears that a multitude of lines, professional and ethical, criss-crossed frequently and by intent. Will this send their publicly traded clients elsewhere? I am curious about how shareholders would feel about relationships with firms charged as such by the Federal government and SEC. Will this even matter?
What accounting firms were used? Why didn't an accounting firm raise any red flags for any of these people and their firms?
Can anyone help me to understand this in plain terms.

Anonymous said...

What about all the small towns in the state (Starkville, etc) that have retained BS to waltz in to act as premier advisors and such? Will there be mass discontinuance of services by the doofus councils? How can local politicos continue to pay these guys for "trusted advice"?

Anonymous said...

Adams tricked a lot of smart people. It’s not hard to believe he tricked Butler Snow employees. Especially Thornton. Lawyers aren’t responsible for their clients lies unless they knew they were lies. BS will pay out millions but they have plenty to spare and the firm and the partners will be fine.

Anonymous said...

The shared defense will be “we didn’t know” and then it will be a race to the bottom for who can claim to be the dumbest. Wicker is the odds on favorite but the Butler Snow attorneys are much more adept at making such arguments.

Anonymous said...

BleachBit and paper shredder stock is going up.

Anonymous said...

Where is Jerry Mitchell? Oh, I forgot, he is working on his “nonprofit” to root out corruption.

Anonymous said...

Insurance will provide a defense to the claims.

Insurers will seek dec actions to determine coverages.

There are not enough competent coverage lawyers in Jackson (who aren’t conflicted) to service the needs of insurers.

Indictments will ensue.

Pinnacle is screwed.

No Fortune 500 company can keep either firm....it’s not tenable. How do you tell your BOD you hired people who did this?

Major people jump from these firms starting 1/2/19

End of an era

OR

Slap on the back and Haley and Trent save the day after BS brings legislature back in session and they pass a law protecting BS from fraud claims and congress passed same bill in DC.


Anonymous said...

6:34
Right, BS is not responsible for its clients lies; however, they are responsible (negligent, unethical, complicit) when they sell those lies to their other clients.

Anonymous said...

And, the two (or 1 and 1/2) reporters remaining at the CL have yet to print a word. So sad that Marshal Ramsey cannot pen a nifty cartoon to help us understand all of this.

Anonymous said...

Bunch greedy dumb white folks who fell for this scheme.

Anonymous said...

Boys will be boys on the Butler Snow plantation. Uh oh, I used the "p" word. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Ole Wilbur Ross sunk a lotta money in this, that's why he'dl still working.

Anonymous said...

A couple of people questioned why Alexander and Seawright are still employed at BD. I figure that BD was holding on to them up to this point, because firing them would be a clear sign that the firm knew or suspected that they were involved in the fraud. Now that the Complaint is on the record, BD may well let them go: "We are shocked! Shocked, we say, to find that certain of our partners were involved in this fraud!"

Anonymous said...

Paragraph 11 of the complaint: I love that Alexander's title is in quotes, "Senior Public Policy Advisor".

Paragraph 8: Thornton is founder, President and CEO of Butler Snow Advisory - no quotes on the title.

Paragraph 12: Seawright is a shareholder of Baker Donelson and a member of its national governing Board of Directors - no quotes on the title.

Paragraph 11: Defendant Brent Alexander is an adult resident of Jackson, Mississippi. He is a "Senior Public Policy Advisor" for Baker Donelson.

chuckle...chuckle...

Anonymous said...

Can an attorney (Mills) threaten a criminal action to get the boys to come clean on a civil action?

Asking for a fiend.

Anonymous said...

11:15 pm

Seawright: thanks for your stellar legal analysis.

Gavel Watch said...

This gal has some kinda balls to take on both of these firms, much less at the same time. Reckon she's up to it?

Briefcase stock just soared. So did cardboard boxes.

Anonymous said...

@ Gavel Watch. Yeah, she's up to it -- as she has just shown. I have never been so proud of a Mississippi lawyer. A real Atticus Finch moment for this admirable young woman. Good for her.

Anonymous said...

For all the "brave" anonymous posters, just remember that most of you were big supporters of Brett Kavanaugh preaching "innocent until proven guilty" and "think about his family." The same standard should be applied here.

Cynical Sam said...

Is this where the term "snow job" originated?

Pappy Odaniel said...

@6:34...concerning local guvments dropping BS...NOPE.

Anonymous said...

5:03 - When Judge Reeves appointed Ms. Mills, it raised a lot of eyebrows in the Jackson legal community. She was in competition with a Miami law firm and Delbert's choice of receiver, a local Jackson lawyer (who is excellent). That pick makes a lot of sense in hindsight, because the Miami firm wouldn't have the lay of the land that a native Mississippian (now living in New Orleans) would have, and the local lawyer might be hesitant to go great guns against two of the top tier lawyer/lobbying/public relations/"business advisory" firms in the state. And she is using top notch, experienced talent from her firm to do the work. There's a quote from the movie Syriana where a defense lawyer is negotiating with a prosecutor on behalf of his powerful client that is apt: "Don, we can spend the next five years in court to get back to this very place we are right now. They will fight tough. They will fight dirty. They will pressure your boss. They will pressure the people who appointed your boss. They will pressure the wives of the people who appointed your boss. You won't ever hit 'em any harder than this. And you know it." It doesn't look like Ms. Mills cares too much about this sort of pressure. Can't wait to see how it unfolds.

Anonymous said...

Why don't these two law firms just pay back all of the money the "investors" lost and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

I think MS Mills has some cover to go after these firms by the fact that a lot of extremely wealthy and influential people (including a sitting US senator) were taken in by this scam. It will be a little harder for the politicos that might normally circle the wagons to protect these two high profile law firms to explain to some of the deepest pockets in the state that they are more concerned about taking the heat off BD and BS than them getting their money back.

Anonymous said...

Any guesses as to the total amount of moo-lah Miz Mills and her partners will rake end by the end of the day?

Bonus Question: From where will it come?

Anonymous said...


But ... why NOT Pappy? ;-)

Anonymous said...

"There are not enough competent coverage lawyers in Jackson (who aren’t conflicted) to service the needs of insurers."

What? I can't think of how or why the several firms who do this work would be conflicted.

Anonymous said...

The CL just issued a "BREAKING NEWS" story about this story that is now 24 hours old on this site. Good work, KF.

Anonymous said...

All I know is what I read, but I am very impressed with Alysson Mills so far. Not to be derogatory toward her, but she's got bigger balls than a lot of good old boy lawya-types who wouldn't have the nerve to shake the trees at BS/BD.

And Brent Alexander claiming he was a victim is the most ludicrous line of bullshit ever! All he and Jon had to do was spend ONE WEEK of due diligence and they would at least know it was shady, but Brent was too busy accepting cash bonuses and attending parties. Their lack of work and investigation does not qualify them as victims. More like co-conspirators.

Change the Flag and Fill the Potholes said...

A couple of thoughts as to why the defendants remain employed (despite the uncertainty of Thorton's status): I'm not sure that their employers can terminate them with cause for being accused in a civil complaint. However, if they were found guilty or accepted a plea then maybe? In this specific case there may be other more strategic motives for standing by them. For instance, there is no way that these business matters were executed at the sole discretion the individuals in the complaint - there has to be volumes of communications with the BS and BD management (e.g. the "opinion" rendered by Cannada regarding penalties). The complaint already names the firms liable as co-defendants but there are important names behind those entities. The receiver has played a pretty good hand on the civil side and has potential leverage on the criminal side.

Anonymous said...

A reputable investment broker in the Jackson was given the pitch for him to tell his clients. Fortunately he had a friend in the timber business and asked him what he thought. The friend said it was a total scam because if it was paying out 12-13% why not just borrow from a bank? The payout would easily cover the bank’s p&i payments. His words were “total Ponzi scheme.” As a result of that conversation, the broker ran for the hills...and it just shows that some folks actually did their due diligence.

Anonymous said...

These Law Firms Operate Offices Worldwide/Nationwide. Their Insurance coverage will exceed 250 Million each at the least. They should read Baker & McKenzie, LLC v. Evans, 123 So.3d 387 (Miss. 2013). They will take a hit in some business and their Insurance Carriers will have to make a sizable settlement. The conduct was awful. I think that Judge Reeves will assure the victims will get a substantial return as he would have to approve any settlement. The New Orleans firm has a fight before them and the Defendants shouldn't expect deferential treatment even in State Court. They are in for a rough ride in Federal District Court and should expect the same on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. Our elected Mississippi Supreme Court will and rightfully holds Lawyers accountable when they choose to willingly pursue unethical and illegal actions. The Federal System will give these Defendants a much deserved lesson.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, if she does go after these firms, this $ will be tied up through appeals etc. until there is no recovered money left. We are talking years and years. That is what big companies and big law firms do. They beat you down and beat you down until you give up the fight.

Anonymous said...

Insurance Carriers will not pay claims if fraud or criminal activity is proven. Please read the the front declaration page....it's in broad letters and highlighted.

The Coverage is for errors and omissions...like wrong Date of Birth, wrong
address, wrong date of of signature, witness or issue date.

These attorneys better dig deep...very deep..the US Govt has unlimited powers and resources...settle now and be glad.




Anonymous said...

Really no way to sugarcoat this. It’s been a bad year for “The Network”.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this is a coincidence...or maybe not:

https://www.nashvillepost.com/business/development/article/21038342/notes-baker-donelson-passes-on-planned-sobro-tower

Anonymous said...

I would like to propose a an office pool for when Alexander & Seawright disappear from the firm’s list of “professionals.” I have $20 on January 1.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to give you merchants of doubt a reality check.

If they can use a failure to file a 709 gift tax return as an impetus to take out Cohen, more or less, then they can nail Butler Snow's a$$.

People only have power because you give it to them. The track record of Butler Snow is horrendous and that's just in this state alone. This is just the civil aspect of this, not the criminal.

And do you want to know the beautiful part? All of the machinations they have used for years, they can't rely on because they're being watched like a hawk watches its prey.

As far as Baker Donelson goes. Dear God, when people like me find out about stuff like this, we run from your "legal services."

There, of course, are other aspects to this spiders web that have absolutely nothing to do with this Ponzi scheme and everything to do with bringing in our useful idiot politicians to root for Russian investments in this state and the fact that Haley lobbies for both Alfa bank (A Russian commercial bank) AND the Iranians.

And that media press release/"response" today- but of course! Meritless claimz. *eye roll*

Anonymous said...

A friend drove by the BS building late last night and he saw white smoke coming from the penthouse suite. Maybe it was just cozy fire in the fire place because it was cold, or did the industrial size paper shredder burn out? Asking for a concerned friend.

Anonymous said...

to dec 20 at 11;21pm....30 years in the law practice here. to answer your question, can mills use the threat of criminal prosecution to gain a tactical advantage in a civil case?....now that is a good question. in theory the answer is no. that is highly unethical, but it is not specifically mentioned in the ms bar code of professional responsibility. it is mentioned in the professional codes of many other states. in practice however, using the threat of criminal prosecution to leverage a party opposite in a civil case goes on all the time. many judges out cannot seem to grasp that concept and it goes right over their heads. the ms state bar needs to get off their asses and enact a specific prohibition on such conduct. now, if the criminal division of the us attorney decide to step in thats a whole other matter. but no , mills should not be threating criminal prosecution. glad to see that at least one person on this thread is able to ask a relevant question.






Anonymous said...

Until we get Haley and Butler Snow our of the picture Mississippi will always be run by those two. We have elected officials but when they are told to do what Haley says then you have a serious problem. There lies your Russia Collusion. Remember, Haley won’t let go of his power. He lays claim that he is a descendant of Louis LeFleur and Greenwood Leflore. Hope I got that right for the sake of being called out. We live in a corrupt state. We have more to offer the world than just agriculture that profits just a small portion of controlling families of this State. It’s time to push aside this timber and agriculture state of mind, train our masses to have a better way of life and finally, clean out the swamp that runs this state. If anyone at Butler Snow or Baker Donaldson don’t get convicted and serve time then you will see that money and power control this state and not the population of voters and hard working individuals who are trying raise a family.

Anonymous said...

It looks like this lady handling this case is going to be busy for a long time, and it looks like Butler Snow and Baker Donaldson might be footing the bill.

Anonymous said...

9:23...what does Haley Barbour have to do with any of this? Did his lobbying firm, BGR, get accused of wrong doing - of course not. Might as well throw Trent Lott and every other lawyer, paralegal and assistant at Butler Snow in the pot too.

Just because you don’t like the guy, you shouldn’t try and blame things on him that he had nothing to do with.

Go ahead and blame on him the problems with Jackson streets, poverty in the Delta and Ole Miss football woes.

Anonymous said...

LLP

BS partners liability for actions of other partners?

Usually no liability....but The fraud word blurs the issue.

My prediction is BS will be forced to reconfigure....shed those responsible for this stupidity and reformulate under a new logo....

How can big Pharma hire guys who helped perpetrate a fraud?

Think Arthur Anderson.

Politico said...

Alexander is dumber than Trump. All the man had to do was give the receiver the money she demanded and this would not have happened. Greed is a drug even more powerful than cocaine.

This guy pitched me to invest by claiming a 25% return. I passed on that obvious “to good to be true” scheme and his suggestion to deposit my earnings in his offshore bank. That will be Thing #2.

Came For The Popcorn.. said...

Haley claims to be related to Greenwood LeFlore? Big Whoop! Who the hell would claim to be related to a clown who sold his own people down the river and shipped them to Colorado?

And to this: "A friend drove by the BS building late last night and he saw white smoke coming from the penthouse suite." It immediately occurs to me that this was the local version of the Vatican tradition. Any guesses?

And to the clown at 8:00 who posted, "...glad to see that at least one person on this thread is able to ask a relevant question (so I could step up and answer it)." Well, you arrogant bastard!

Anonymous said...


"BS partners liability for actions of other partners?"

Start with Barrett v. Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson & Lee, LLC, 27 So. 3d 363, 370 (Miss. 2009) insofar as how the MS SC has ruled in the past and go from there. Since most readers don't have case law reporter direct access, just do a Google search and you'll find it.

I think a reasonable assumption is that Ms. Mills is out for $85 million or so, not blood or vengeance, but she will take it from where she can legally get it. It will be interesting to see what BS does, especially being a Jackson firm and with the malpractice allegation. BD is a bit different as 1) there is no allegation of malpractice (yet) and it is probable that most of the Nashville-based firm's management and certainly most of the shareholders wouldn't know Lamar Adams from Gomez Adams. Add to that both firms were tertiary players to the entire scheme, it could and likely will be argued that each firm's liability would be, at most, strictly limited to the actual losses that resulted from its direct involvement, i.e., people who "invested" as direct result of BS' or BD's involvement.

On the other hand, it could be and possibly will be argued that a law firm and its members, at least those directly involved or with first-hand knowledge, have a duty to be reasonably diligent when presented with such a sketchy "investment opportunity," that reasonable diligence would have made the fraud plainly obvious, that failing to do ANY reasonable due diligence goes beyond mere negligence, that a reasonable attorney/firm would have a duty to report such a fraudulent scheme, and are therefore guilty of a misprision or similar. Broadly put, an attorney's duties and responsibilities are very different if a client tells his divorce attorney that "he hopes his wife gets hit by a bus" versus confessing that he just murdered his soon-to-be-ex-wife versus asking, "hypothetically, if a friend really hated some greedy unfaithful bitch who he thought he loved and might owe alimony, how could he get away with murdering her and her new boyfriend before our, er, their divorce is final?"

Anonymous said...

As far as diligence, a country lawyer might have instructed a client that was investing in timber or land to get a title search done..

Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt all the hating, but Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of the season:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!


Thanks Walt Kelly!

Anonymous said...

Is Lamar missing the party at the CCJ tonight? Maybe his estranged squeeze will be there.

Anonymous said...

Pardon all the legal talk and possible loophole evaluations but common sense tells me this thing is rotten to the core.

Kingfish said...

Interesting how the defendant law firms are issuing public statements to the media yet haven't sent any to this website.

Anonymous said...

Butler Snow rebrand under a new logo? Sorry, BS, MCI INC is taken

Anonymous said...

In case you didn't hear it in the back or for the fat lady tuning up in the choir loft....WINTER IS HERE LORD SNOW!!!!!

Anonymous said...

At the end of the long list of criminal/civil statutes and ethical rules that Baker Donelson/Seawright [allegedly] violated, better add "in person solicitation of clients."

Still a violation, even if you send another person (known as a "capper") to do it.

Of course, I am sure the MS Bar will get right on that (along with all of the much more serious allegation here).

Anonymous said...

Allegations are not facts. Wait on the facts.

Anonymous said...

to kingfish at dec26 ,2018 @1;19am..........and you can be sure they will never send a public statement to you because you are the frist and only reporter in the history of this third world soybean republic to have the guts to expose the truth . up until you showed up the media was terrified of district attorneys, federal judges, powerful law firms, elected politicians ,and two-bit political hackers, whomever they may be.

Anonymous said...

731, must have been smoking some really good stuff last night. Or else, just came into the age of being able to read. Your assistance kissing of JJ would be humerus if not so ridiculous. To even consider this blog - or any for that matter - a journalist shows your idiocy. The reason the law firms, or others, didn't send JJ a response is because he is not a journalist, or an investigative reporter, or a reporter of any kind. Yes, he has a good business, and it is a worthwhile product as long as you take it for what it is. Go back to your couch, open up another bag of cheetos, and lite up another one to welcome in the new year.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 12:03

Anonymous said...

12:03: Shut up, Seawright. . .

Anonymous said...

Why is JJ not a journalist?

To think he’s not is to ignore reality imo.

He actually researches topics and keeps the public informed of what he’s doing. (Think pelahatchie mayor and all that craziness)

Yes he’s a bit odd and he’s not a MS native....but he’s pretty damn good at ferreting out the facts and showing people.

2019 will be a great year for JJ I think.

Anonymous said...

How many of you folks who are now criticizing Haley and BS fell right in line and supported SHS over CMc in the recent senate race? Shame on you!

Kingfish said...

Hmm...... Matt..... worked at Innovate Mississippi when Tanya stole the place blind..... worked at TFS/Income when it was working with the Steadivest folks.

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