Saturday, November 08, 2008

Case Dismissed: Barwest LLC v. Barron Mazel, Gretchen Belli, et al

Plaintiffs Barwest LLC and LCB Barwest LLC had filed a lawsuit last year in California's Central District Federal Court, against Barron Mazel, Barronhaus LTD and Gretchen Belli; asserting, among other things, interference with contract and fraud.

According to Court documents, the Court quickly ruled the Complaint was defective because the Plaintiffs had failed to disclose the identity and citizenship of all the members of the two LLCs. Something required to determine jurisdiction of the Court.

The Plaintiffs countered back explaining that there were currently two members of each of the LLCs: (1) a Marian Ilitch Trust Agreement and (2) a Michael J. Malik Living Trust and that both entities were domiciled in Michigan. Plaintiffs failed however to disclose who the Trustees or beneficiaries of those two entities were and so the court again asked for disclosure.

Shortly thereafter, the Plaintiffs opted to file for a dismissal of the case.

Was this just another one of the frivilous lawsuits that Michael Malik and Marian Ilitch bring upon others simply for the purpose of bullying? If not, then why did they abandon a legitimate claim?

Prior to he discovery of this lawsuit, few who were following the plans to bring an Indian casino to Barstow were aware of the defendants or what role they had played or were playing in the pursuit. Some further details came to light and it became clear that there was much strife and turmoil among and between Barwest (Michael Malik) and its partners.

A look at the Barronhaus Ltd. Web site suggests that Barron Mazel, founder and managing director of the firm, has been an investment banker specializing in corporate finance, project financing and mergers and acquisitions and leveraged transactions for the past 40 years; and that he counts among his clients Barwest LLC and the Los Coyotes Band of Indians.

Four Charlotte Beach parcels purchased by Michael Malik or his associates since 2002

Charlotte Beach Subdivision, Barbeau, Michigan

Properties purchased or otherwise acquired by Michael J. Malik, Sr. or his associates during the last decade.

Parcel No:




Site Address:


Mail Address:

280 W MAPLE RD 31 BIRMINGHAM, MI 48009-3344

Acquired by CB Property Investments, L.L.C. (William Serwer, Michael J. Malik’s business attorney) from Dale E. Bertram and Duane A. Bertram & Rhea Bertram June 12, 2002 for an undisclosed sum through foreclosure (approximately three months before Governor Engler concluded negotiations on a Bay Mills Indian Community land claims settlement agreement over Charlotte Beach lands).

Parcel No:




Site Address:


Mail Address:

280 W MAPLE RD 310 BIRMINGHAM, MI 48009-3344

Acquired by CB Property Investments, L.L.C. (William Serwer, Michael J. Malik’s business attorney) from Dale E. Bertram and Duane A. Bertram & Rhea Bertram June 12, 2002 for an undisclosed sum through foreclosure (approximately three months before Governor Engler concluded negotiations on a Bay Mills Indian Community land claims settlement agreement over Charlotte Beach lands).

Parcel No:




Site Address:


Mail Address:

15050 HARMONY LN CHEBOYGAN, MI 49721-8433

Originally purchased by James F. Hadley in 1996; acquired by Luna Properties Charlotte Beach LLC (Tom Celani) November 9, 2004 for a value 21.3% greater than Hadley originally paid; sold to Castagnes in 2005 at a value 56.6% greater than Celani acquired the property for from Hadley Estate a year earlier.

Parcel No:





(918) 446 - 1344 [do not call]

Site Address:


Mail Address:

4615 OAK LEAF DR TULSA, OK 74132-2127

Originally purchased by James F. Hadley in 1996; acquired by MJM Charlotte Beach, L.L.C. (Michael J. Malik) November 9, 2004 for a value 21.3% greater than Hadley originally paid; sold to Reed in January 2006 for an undisclosed value.

TIMELINEchain of ownership

If you desire copies of the register and tax documents that TVT has obtained regarding these properties please write

NOTE: Originially posted 8.08.07 & updated 11.08.08 to reflect parcels 0023250730000 & 0023250260000 appear to have been obtained by CB Property Investments as part of a foreclosure action.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rep. Miller Jockeying for House Appropriations Seat

According to a report by Todd Spangler in the Detroit Free Press, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI 10th) is apparently angling for a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Miller hopes to grab the seat held by Rep. Joe Knollenberger (R-MI 9th) who was defeated in his bid for re-election.

Miller, Michigan's former Secretary of State, was State Chair of Mayor Rudy Guiliani's failed presidential campaign. She had tapped Detroiters Mike Ilitch, Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr. to raise funds for Guiliani. Given that her guy failed to win the GOP nomination Miller had planned to skip the GOP National Convention in St. Paul. But when Senator McCain chose Gov. Palin, Miller reportedly changed her mind and headed west to the Twin Cities.

Detroit casino synidcator Michael Malik and his gaming partner Marian Ilitch, along with her husband Mike Ilitch and other members of their family, frequently top the list of Rep. Miller's campaign donors -- even though they aren't constituents in Michigan's 10th Congressional District.

In addition to contributing to Rep. Miller's campaign warchests, Malik and the Ilitch Family were the primary donors to CANDICE PAC, a so-called "leadership PAC" that Miller had established to win influence with her Capitol Hill colleagues. TVT started to expose CANDICE PAC's funding streams and the favors Rep. Miller was delivering to its donors.

For starters, Rep. Miller just happened to establish CANDICE PAC on the same day she introduced her first bill in Congress intended to get approvals for the Malik/Ilitch backed Port Huron casino. Malik was the first and only true donor to CANDICE PAC for the better part of the first year. After TVT began to expose these and other circumstances surrounding CANDICE PAC, Rep. Miller, who has further political ambitions, quickly shut down CANDICE PAC.

Tom Shields, the primary PR/political operative for Malik and the Ilitch Family, owns Marketing Resource Group (MRG). Rep. Miller uses MRG as her primary campaign consultant. Rep. Miller has sponsored and co-sponsored various failed bills in Congress intended to advance plans Malik and his associates have for an off-reservation Indian casino in Port Huron, MI. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) was the sole co-sponsor of the first such bill introduced by Rep. Miller. Subsequently, Rep. Young attempted several times to bury approvals for Malik's Port Huron casino in voluminous House Transportation Appropriations bills. Those efforts were eventually blocked too.

If Rep. Miller is chosen to replace Rep. Knollenberg on the Appropriations Committee, keep an eye out for future attempts to win stealth approval for Malik's Port Huron casino or earmarks that fund projects needed to advance real estate and development objectives of Malik and the Ilitch clan.

Ilitch elected to U of M Board of Regents

Denise Ilitch, oldest daughter of Detroit entrepreneurs Mike and Marian Ilitch, has been elected to the University of Michigan Board of Regents. She was one of two candidates elected to the Board of Regents and the top vote-getter with 29%.

Ilitch owns and founded Ambassador Magazine and Denise Ilitch Designs, and previously served along with her brother Christopher Ilitch as Co-President of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., the management entity that oversees her family's holdings including the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and Little Caesars Pizza.

Reports in the Ann Arbor News indicated that Ilitch, of Bingham Farms, was the biggest spender in the race for two Regent seats. As of the end of September, she had spent $34,990 mostly for advertising, banners and campaign consulting. Ilitch had loaned her campaign $15,000 and raised $27,550 in contributions, including $1,000 from Michael Duggan, chief executive officer of the Detroit Medical Center. Four other executives and a doctor at the Detroit Medical Center also contributed.

Michigan casino developers must be pleased that despite predictions Rep. Young won re-election

Despite earlie polls indicating he would be defeated in his bid for re-election, Rep. Don Young (R-AK), one of Detroit casino syndicator Michael Malik's pals on Capitol Hill, has been re-elected.

Rep. Young, Alaska's sole House member since 1973, appears to have survived an otherwise bruising night for House Republicans across the U.S. He maintains a comfortable lead over his Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, capturing 51.49% to Berkowitz’s 43.97%.

Young, who championed the "Bridge to Nowhere" among other controversial earmarks, is embroiled in a corruption investigation and facing scrutiny for a controversial highway-bill earmark (Coconut Road, FL) that benefited one of his donors/fundraisers, Daniel Aronoff. .

Among other things, Young has relentlessly helped Malik advance various schemes intended to approve an off-reservation casino in Port Huron, Michigan, to be built and managed by Malik whose partners have included Marian Ilitch, Harrah's and others.

During the last decade, Rep. Young served as Chairman, Vice Chairman and now Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee which has oversight of Indian gaming matters. Young co-sponsored two of at least seven bills introduced intending to pave the way for Malik's casino plans -- H.R. 5459 (2002) & H.R. 831 (2003). During the second session of the 110th Congress, Young successfuly championed Natural Resources Committee approval of H.R. 2176 and then passionately lead the failed floor fight for passage of the bill.

Young, previously Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, also attempted to use transportation appropriations bills during 2004 & 2005 to slip through, under the radar, approvals Malik needs; a controversial practice that Young carried out on behalf of other donors as well.

During the last six years, Malik and his partners have retained several of Rep. Young's "A-Team" lobbyists -- secretly paying some of them more than $665,000. They've used their private aircraft to fly Young to various U.S. destinations and fronted other entertainment costs, and contributed thousands to Young's various campaign committees and other GOP committees that benefit Young -- in 2006 they were among his top 10 donors.

For a more complete picture of Young's relationship with Malik and partners, see our post from August 2007 or click on the label "Don Young."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Oddly, Cullens buy home of development partner J.C. Miller

A Warranty Deed recorded on 7.29.08 in Wayne County, Michigan, indicates Matthew P. and Karen A. Cullen purchased a 7,800 square foot home for $1.2 million in Grosse Point Woods from John C. and Karen Miller. The home is located at 1109 Sunningdale Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI. The Cullens purchased the property, adjacent to the Lochmoor Country Club, with a $960,000 mortgage from Quicken Loans, Inc.

In April it was announced that Matt Cullen, a long time senior real estate executive with General Motors, would become President and Chief Operating Officer of Rock Enterprises, an umbrella entity that serves the portfolio of companies and investments owned by Dan Gilbert, including Quicken loans, Inc. and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Karen Cullen is vice president for corporate communications at Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

Matt Cullen and John “J.C.” Miller (J.C. Miller Construction Company, Inc.), along with Tom Vigliotti (Vigliotti Real Estate Investments LLC), are partners in CMV, a company that’s developing an exclusive residential community on the Canadian shoreline of Lake Huron known as HuronCrest Estates.

Matt Cullen formed Cullen Real Estate LLC in May 2003. The entity is registered at 742 Shelden in Gross Pointe Shores, MI.

Miller and Vigliotti developed the Great Lakes Technology Centre in the late 1980s on the site of the former Fisher Body Plant in Flint, MI. While General Motors had leased back significant space in the Centre, ultimately Miller & Vigliotti were forced to sell part of the development to a local Land Bank for $10.

Group controlled by Michigan casino interests launches dishonest robo-calls to influence Barstow elections

A so-called local grassroots campaign committee managed and funded by Michigan casino interests has launched dishonest robocalls into Barstow in an attempt to influence the outcome of Tuesday's local election for Mayor. These are the same kinds of sleazy underhanded tactics that have been used to spread lies and half-truths suggesting that Barrack Obama is really a terrorist or affiliated with Osama Bin Laden.

The pre-recorded robocall messages attempt to blame Barstow Councilman Joe Gomez for the failure by BarWest, a Detroit casino syndicator, to get a casino approved in Barstow. The caller says Gomez told legislators in Sacramento that Barstow didn’t want a casino and is responsible for losing 2,000 jobs in Barstow. That’s simply not true. Gomez’s testimony in Sacramento included no such statement. (See Transcripts). Rather, Gomez is the only candidate for Mayor of Barstow who has supported multiple competing proposals for casino development in Barstow -- not just the schemes by BarWest.

However, Gomez is challenging two-time incumbent Mayor Lawrence Dale, a politician who, since first elected in 2000, has worked tirelessly to guarantee BarWest the exclusive rights to any future casino development in Barstow. In fact, informed observers believe Dale is one of those to be held accountable for the failure to bring a casino to Barstow. Dale has repeatedly taken action to block proposals by other casino developers at all costs. Among other things, he's been called out for violating residents' first-ammendment rights, using his title and City letterhead to represent his personal interests and holding secretive meetings. The transcripts from the Legislative Hearing in question suggest that Mayor Dale's testimony may have been the most damaging to the plans for a casino.

Reports and court documents indicate the political campaign committee responsible for the robocalls, Barstow Citizens for Real Economic Development, is a front group for BarWest.

In 2006, the Committee reported spending close to $200,000 in an unprecedented attempt to influence elections in Barstow; yet it reported raising less than $48,000. Of the money it raised, $40,000 (83%) came in checks from two BarWest principals Michael Malik & Marian Ilitch.

Since the June 2006 Election Primary, the Committee hasn’t reported raising any additional funds and has continued to show a debt of close to $150,000. The debt is the result of close to $150,000 paid in 2006 to vendors and consultants on behalf of the Committee by BarWest operative Tom Shields and his Lansing-based firm Marketing Resources Group (MRG).

Nearly 2.5 years later the Committees’ debt to Shields (MRG) has gone un-reimbursed. And now the Committee is engaging in new expenses.

Was Shields "reimbursed” by unreported sources and if so, who's paying the bills? Is Shields acting as creditor/lender to the Committee? Is the Committee really a "controlled committee" and if so did it fail to appropriately disclose that fromthe beginning?It's naive to think Shields (MRG), an experienced nationally recognized GOP operative, spent $150,000 on behalf of some grassroots committee in Barstow and won't get "paid back."

This isn't the first time those affiliated with BarWest have engaged in sleazy and even unlawful campaign activity. For more than a year and half, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has been investigating the lobbying and campaign finance practices of BarWest and its principal Michael Malik. BarWest was previously fined by the FPPC for failing to disclose a $26,600 contribution it made to a GOP Committee in San Joaquin.

TVT has welcomed more than 178,000 unique vistors

TVT, founded in December 2006, has averaged more than 20,000 visitors annually. It is produced with the support of scores of individuals from coast-to-coast, each a volunteer citizen activist/jounalist, who review tips and compile the verifiable details and documents that are the hallmark of our content.

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Google News: Indian Gaming

NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals

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NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

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