Monday, August 24, 2015

Woolston, Seibert were aware of Wallace-Bajjali bankruptcies, lawsuits

In a Joplin Globe article designed to whitewash involvement by the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team from accusations that it steered the master developer position to Wallace-Bajjali, the Globe revealed for the first time that Mayor Michael Seibert and Councilman Mike Woolston had access to documents that revealed that David Wallace had a long history of bankruptcies and lawsuits.

The same documents also showed that Wallace had not revealed a great deal of his sordid history to another city that was considering using his company to head a large-scale development.

The revelation was buried deep in Sunday's page one article and comes in a comment from CART Chairwoman Jane Cage:

"There were positive and negative references on both (finalist)
candidates, and none of those were mentioned in the audit. During the course of reference checking, we were given an exhaustive background report on Wallace Bajjali prepared by the city of Amarillo in their developer search. The report took into consideration the SEC and bankruptcy question about Wallace Bajjali. After exploring the issues, they made the decision to choose Wallace Bajjali. City staff had that report and supplied it to the auditor as well. Our group of volunteers was given no instruction on record keeping or procedures from anyone in finance or purchasing. When I was asked for records — I gave the auditors everything that I could find (three years later) related to the process."

This is the first indication that any Joplin city officials had access to an extensive investigation conducted by lawyers working for the city of Amarillo. Seibert and Woolston both served on CART. Both have made statements indicating that they did background checks on Wallace-Bajjali, with Seibert acknowledging that in an interview last week on KZRG's Morning News Watch.

The Amarillo report gave the go-ahead for the city to work with Wallace-Bajjali, even though it expressed warnings throughout the document, including one that the city of Joplin would have been wise to follow:

There will be a need to engage in prudent contract drafting to minimize the risks inherent in public-private urban renewal projects.

The Joplin City Council entered into a contract with Wallace-Bajjali that called for the city to pay the company $5 million if the contract was canceled within the first year, $4 million during the second year and so on. The only city official who worked with Wallace-Bajjali on the contract was former City Manager Mark Rohr. Former City Attorney Brian Head was kept out of the loop.


Anonymous said...

WOW! And it just keeps getting deeper & deeper! I'm impressed Mr.Turner! Once again you had it pegged with ALL your hard work & reporting!

Anonymous said...

ADVERSARY CASE JUST FILED IN BANKRUPTCY COURT: CASE #15-03209. Two individuals are suing Wallace saying they do not want their debt discharged by this crook. According to lawsuit Wallace admitted under oath that he grabbed about $1,000,000 in year 2014 from various forms of payment: his salary, commissions, conversions of loans, and other forms of borrowing and/or compensation. So no wonder he had money to burn when he put in that $80,000 pool. Paid cash for it. Also, married the mistress in an exotic island and flew in his family! It all makes sense. Never once paid any of the investors a penny, nor the debt he owed to Receiver. Nor lifted a finger in Joplin and Amarillo. Unbelievable. Tragic and sad. The power of greed. I wouldn't be surprised if he's hiding assest.

Anonymous said...

Well I am sure Woolston, Seibert and other city officials (Rohr) got extra cash out of these deals as well!!!

Anonymous said...

It is illuminating to read the spin given by these so called city leaders to absolve themselves of any responsibility in this mess. Apparently they are all too stupid to here themselves as every explanation given thus far has actually backed up everything the audit claims. The audit was actually quite friendly in using the word, "may have" in many of its charges. All I have gotten out of their explanations is that all of them did indeed meet and talk with Wallace many times and simply discarded all red flags. I have a list from all the claims Wallace made as he worked towards this crazy TIF we now have, all reported in the Globe. He made claims of having hundreds of millions in funds available to start these developments, yet needed a mere 58 million from the TIF or else. The TIF was his pot of gold, but it backfired when the city only got authorization to sell 13 million in bonds to cover needless land purchases. Once the TIF was unable to give Wallace control of the expected 58 million, he began his exit strategy and nothing happened. He strung the dream believer city leaders along as long as he could. Being forced to buy back the CocaCola property was the last straw and he up and left. He had to borrow the money to do that by the way, from the bank whose president was the chairperson of the TIF committee. When the audit speaks of Wallace's finances being suspect, this is what they are talking about. He spoke many times of having millions at his disposal, yet had to borrow over and over to by shoes.

Anonymous said...

Could it be possible that perhaps the only one who screwed us was Wallace-Bajjali? What would the incentive be for our council members or former city manager to scam the people they work for? Any idiot could see that at some point, the city would be looked at from all of the state and federal agencies. Let's let the law enforcement agencies do their job and see if anyone else profited from this mess. Until then, innocent until proven guilty.

I think it's much more likely that we all just got conned by a con man. I'm grateful that all he got out of this was a bad reputation, because I'm guessing at some point that house he lives in with the fancy pool will some day belong to one of the investors he screwed.

George Schwarz said...

The Amarillo Independent’s investigative story in November 2010 triggered the city of Amarillo to do its own “vetting” of Wallace Bajjali using a Dallas law firm. Amarillo’s city commission at the time also ignored the Independent’s and the law firm’s warnings by going right ahead. The link to the original article form 2010 is here:

You guys in Joplin are lucky to have Randy Turner to counter the in-the-tank coverage from the Joplin Globe. If you’d like to see more parallels between Joplin and Amarillo, go here:

Anonymous said...

You have more faith in Federal Law Enforcement than is deserved. David Wallace will walk away clean, and be swimming in his pool with his new wife until the next tornado hits Joplin. He will keep all that money he has sitting off shore and within a couple of years will be convincing some other city leaders that he is the best answer to their development problems. Face a reality, the taxpayers were taken, both by Wallace and also by the people they trusted to run the City of Joplin. Nothing happens in a vacuum and a lot of our civic leaders were involved in this fraud up to their eyeballs. And that is the best reason I can think of as to why Law Enforcement will do absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

Note to City Council and the illustrious members of CART:
Dumb and naive are not good excuses for wasting taxpayer dollars on real estate we don't need, expenses that were unnecessary, and payments to WB that were truly stupid.
$11,000,000 wasted on real estate.
A few million more on payments to Wallace.
A TIF diverting tax money away from the schools.

When are any of you going to admit you made mistakes?
When will Woolston resign?
When will any of them resign?

Anonymous said...

Could it be possible that perhaps the only one who screwed us was Wallace-Bajjali? What would the incentive be for our council members or former city manager to scam the people they work for? Any idiot could see that at some point, the city would be looked at from all of the state and federal agencies.

Clearly, these are not just any old idiots.

While you make some good points, I see no reason these people had to realize they would be scrutinized much more than what they'd been used to for decades. They were probably lulled by decades of business as usual cronyism, and they could and still can count on the city's paper of record backing them 100%.

There's also Randy's thesis that most of the characters in the drama were beguiled by Wallace cleverly telling them that the pet projects they'd been holding in their hearts for years were the best things since sliced bread, and that if they hired Wallace-Bajjali their dreams would come true. But almost of these are actually bad ideas (at least if the public funds them), which is one reason they've never gotten off the ground, and that further impeaches their judgement.

I like that thesis, with the addition (can't remember if it's part of Randy's) that Woolston went far beyond that naivety straight to self-confessed corruption. The numbers on the Joplin Redevelopment Company (JRC) purchases he and Four States Homes (FSH) mediated vs. the ones they did separately also make that clear (in short, his $675K above appraised values, JRC separately $600K below, and of course there's that 39% $377K profit made by flipping them through FSH before the JRC bought them, as well as $11K in commissions).

Sure, Wallace-Bajjali made a whole lot more in ill-gotten gains, but "You know, it’s a matter of you making money..." and of course us losing money.

As for innocent until proven guilty, sure, but this isn't yet a formal criminal case, and there's doubt it will become one. The FBI isn't going to bird-dog it unless they judge it'll give them enough favorable publicity, and the local Federal prosecutor will be thinking this is going to be an expensive case and one that's not likely to get a guilty verdict until after the next president has replaced her (but who knows, someone might plea guilty). In the meanwhile, we're perfectly capable of using our own judgement to decide this set of "idiots" have no business handling the people's affairs.

Anonymous said...

No wonder he wore a $500 Batman suit the Halloween of 2014. Well of course, he was stealing and stealing. When money is coming out of his ears, he didn't care the cost. Sure he paid for the mistress' Wonder Woman outfit too out of investor money. Now I wonder how much Bajjali was stealing too? Investors never had a chance with these two corrupt thieves. They never got one single penny.