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I’m on Yom Kippur duty today until sundown, but through the magic of advanced scheduling I’ve been able to set this acrid stink-bomb to go off in the middle of the afternoon. (It’s not my fault that it’s an acrid stink-bomb; I’m just reporting on it here.)
As you may know, I was supposed to be getting reports from brilliant legal observers on the Trial of the Harkeys for, among other things, their alleged abuse and defrauding of the elderly who, sad for them, invested in their schemes. Unfortunately, Diane Harkey’s longstanding heroic efforts to get the 30-day trial delayed until most voters had already voted in the election have ultimately paid off. (This may explain the lack of reports to me. Jim Corbett, if you get a dead fish from me in the mail, please ignore it.)
(Before moving on, let’s just savor some quotes from the story above:
Steve Cash is a San Diego real estate investor who put $600,000 into Point Center. He describes the Harkeys as “a crime family” and accuses the government of “aiding and abetting crimes against me” by doing nothing.
(Benice said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the state Department of Real Estate and the state Department of Corporations all investigated Point Center but took no action. Cash said the FBI interviewed him but took no action.)
The investor lawsuit has been grinding through the courts for nearly four years, and the trial – with 150 witnesses and 5,000 exhibits – is expected to last at least a month.
“I don’t think people such as myself should have to suffer over such a lengthy period of time,” Cash said.
Yowza! Black emphasis in original; red emphasis is mine. Check out the link for more of the old “mean and nasty”!)
The trial that may expose Diane Harkey as a defrauding abuser of the elderly will not begin until Oct. 29, by which point over half of the votes in the AD-73 election will have already been cast. (For some people, the best voter is the most ignorant voter.)
Well, in the meanwhile, feeling bereft at the absence of a trial that I was really looking forward to watching during the run-up to election day, I went to check out the website put up by the critics of the Harkeys and their Point Center Investments scheme (who, my impression is, are generally among those mentioned in the top link above) and maybe take a peek at the complaint, and … MY GOD, HAVE YOU SEEN THIS STUFF??? NO WONDER THEY’RE SO UPSET!!!
“Were you deceived? We know now that Dan Harkey got rich on failed loans, taking commissions from your invested funds. Did you believe the loans were safe and secure? We now know that much of the loan money went into un-entitled high-risk desert land. Were you informed that the appraisals were not usually on an “as is” basis? Contrary to many representations, most appraisal values were calculated on an “as built” or “as developed” basis, and so were likely inflated. Did you know the loans were often not fully funded even though Harkey took commissions on the whole loan amount, even though he didn’t raise the money? Review what we’ve learned in the individual loan snapshots. Do Point Center’s actions constitute fraud? You decide.”
“It was Dan Harkey’s job to act as our fiduciary. Yet he collected huge fees and commissions no matter how risky the loan was. So while we lost our investment dollars, he got rich. Does that sound like someone acting in our best interest? While we trusted him, did he betray our confidence? It now appears clear that Dan Harkey could make even more money if the properties went into foreclosure. When a borrower defaulted, Point Center began charging foreclosure fees and forbearance fees and various other charges. To make matters worse Point Center doubled the management fees on these failures, for which they will pay themselves first. So, Dan Harkey gets paid management fees before repaying investors. Some defaulted loans were rolled over, for an even larger amount, generating an entirely new set of fees. and commissions. Did Harkey clearly disclose ownership interest in the escrow company that handled many of the transactions? Do the actions of Dan Harkey and Point Center sound like a breach of fiduciary responsibility? You decide.”
“Learn about the various investments. Is there any doubt that the value of the investments was greatly exaggerated? Is there any doubt that the security of the investments/loans was inflated and misleading? Is there any doubt that new investors were brought in to pay off old investors as the loans were “rolled over”? Does all this fit the definition of a Ponzi scheme? You decide.”
Now, I don’t want to prejudge the case (and nor do I want you to do so, if you might end up on the jury) but I’ll just say this:
I WOULD REALLY HAVE VERY MUCH PREFERRED THAT THIS TRIAL HAD BEEN COMPLETED BEFORE THE FIRST VOTES HAD BEEN CAST. YES, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH, MUCH NICER. I THINK THAT VOTERS SHOULD WANT TO KNOW IF DIANE HARKEY HAS ACTUALLY BEEN INVOLVED IN AND PROFITED HANDSOMELY FROM ACTIVITIES OF THIS SORT. IT IS CERTAINLY THE KIND OF THING THAT I WOULD EXPECT TO DETERMINE A FEW VOTES!
South County Voters who have read this website and have had a similar reaction to mine do, of course, have an option to voting before they have even heard reports about the freaking opening arguments in this trial. That is: they can delay their vote until after the first few days of trial — or even until Election Day. I know that South County may be the Permanent Absentee Voting capital of the state, and that this advice goes against the every inclination of voters there, and that doing this might give Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher fits (which to me is a bonus), but all I can say is this:
If I, as a candidate were currently accused of something as serious as defrauding this much money out of elderly investors in one of my schemes, and if I had fought for years to keep the trial from occurring until after the election and gotten it postponed to where it would start only eight days before Election Day and stretch on for a month afterwards, I would not feel too upset if people told me that they just wanted to wait and hear the opening statements, and maybe hear me cross-examined (!), before casting a vote for me as their representative. I wouldn’t take it that personally. In fact, I think that that approach would seem pretty darn reasonable, myself!
So that’s what I suggest that South Orange County voters do before casting a vote for someone who has done her best to postpone her day of reckoning until it couldn’t cost her election: wait a bit to vote this year. (Do vote by Election Day, of course, whoever your favored candidates!) And, if you do wait — please let Diane Harkey know that you’re doing so. (Send a cc to your friends at the Orange Juice Blog too, of course!) Let there be at least SOME consequence to her delaying this trial! My hope — as a big fan of comedy — is that she will write some of you back and explain why she thinks that it is really QUITE IMPORTANT that you go ahead and vote for her before she gets cross-examined. Please — I want to see if I can laugh that hard. Come on, she’s earned the goading with all of this delay — give her what she’s asked for!
(G’mar khatimah tovah, y’all! See you after sundown!)