Friday, July 08, 2016

Mike Woolston and the case that Dean Dankelson ignored

The state auditor issued a report that accused Joplin City Councilman Mike Woolston of behavior that, at best, might be considered unethical. At worst, it might be an invitation to criminal charges.

The auditor said the evidence concerning both Woolston and the unelected leaders who brought Wallace Bajjali to Joplin was turned over to Jasper County Prosecutor Dean Dankelson.

Dankelson tells the Joplin Globe he never received anything from the state auditor.

When you consider that Nicole Galloway and her staff were essentially accusing Woolston of using insider knowledge to make sure that a business partner profited off the Joplin Tornado, you would think any prosecutor worth his salt might consider picking up the phone and saying, "Are you sure you sent that evidence?"

If Dankelson truly did not receive the evidence, he obviously never made that call either.

To be fair, the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney is a busy man. Not only does he have an office to run, but he is also running for judge.

Overseeing the prosecution of  a high profile case (with many important people who would back the defendant) would take a lot of time and you never know when charges might need to be filed against a member of the Joplin Honkies.


It has been nearly 11 months since Galloway came to Missouri Southern State University to release the petition audit of the City of Joplin. The audit was started by Joplin businessman David Humphreys, with thousands of city residents placing their signatures on it.

Since it has been released, the portions concerning Woolston's dealings and Wallace Bajjali have been ignored. Woolston resigned just before a hearing that could have tossed him out of office. It could also have presented Dankelson with more evidence to ignore.

The damaging evidence against Woolston was laid out during Galloway's visit and was reported in the August 18, 2015 Turner Report:

Galloway spelled out a scenario in which Woolston had purchased property at the behest of Joplin developer Charlie Kuehn, who then sold the property to the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation at heavily inflated prices.

"It was a taxpayer-funded house flipping plan," Galloway said.

The auditor showed a chart which detailed the most egregious example of property flipping.

On July 1, 2013, Woolston, working on behalf of Kuehn's Four State Homes, bought property at 1801 Delaware for $35,000. Four State Homes then sold the property to the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation for $162,000.

In all, 16 parcels of property in that area were purchased by Woolston for Four State Homes for $963,380, then sold to JRC for $1,340,824.

"Council member Woolston was aware of the properties the JRC was considering buying for redevelopment and may have used this information for personal gain," the report says. "Council member Woolston signed the real estate sales contracts as the broker on the 16 properties originally purchased by the FSH (Four State Homes) and subsequently sold to the JRC. Further, NEWCO, LLC was formed on April 4, 2013, as a partnership between Wallace-Bajjali and Charlie Kuehn to purchase these 16 properties back from the JRC for redevelopment into a theatre and retail/loft shopping center near the new library."

Later in the report, Woolston's conflicts of interest are spelled out.

"Due to council member Woolston's involvement with the CART, he was aware of properties the JRC and city were considering buying for redevelopment and may have used this information for personal gain.

"Further, acting as a broker and signing the sales contracts involving FSH's purchase of real estate in the redevelopment area (which the CART and the city had identified for future development by the JRC) created an actual, or at the very least an appearance of conflicts of interest."

Though Woolston abstained from voting on anything having to do with these parcels, he did not abstain on another occasion when there was a clear conflict of interest, according to the report.

"Council member Woolston did not abstain from voting (or disclose his business relationship with the developer) on an ordinance approving a tax increment financing redevelopment plan involving Kevin Steele, a developer with whom he co-owns a local realty company.

"During the July 7, 2014, council meeting, the council approved the Hope Valley Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan, which established a redevelopment area and designated Hope Valley Development Group, Inc., a group that includes Kevin Steele as the designer of the redevelopment project.'

The audit also noted the conclusions of Osage Beach investigator Thomas Loraine, who examined Woolston's dealings with Four State Homes and Wallace-Bajjali.

"In November 2013, the city entered into an agreement with an individual for investigative services including, 'The facts, circumstances, and ethical considerations surrounding the involvement of Council Member Woolston with Mr. Charlie Kuehn/Four State Homes, its subsidiaries and related entities, and the City's master developer, Wallace-Bajjali, with respect to the purchase, sale, or leasing of real estate for current or future development.'

"The investigator noted in his final report, issued February 3, 2014, that 'All business should be stopped under the contracts between Wallace-Bajjali and the City of Joplin. Further investigation should be considered.' "

The audit report noted, "Council members of a city serve in a fiduciary capacity. Personal interests in business matters of the city create actual or the appearance of conflicts of interest, and a lack of independence could harm public confidence in the council and reduce its effectiveness."

The audit features references to Joplin City Charter and state laws concerning conflicts of interest for elected officials, but since the state auditor is not a law enforcement official, those concerns have been turned over to others.

"We were unable to investigate in more depth the issues of possible conflicts of interest as the pursuit of some information (e. g. subpoenaing personal bank records) is beyond the scope of our audit power. However, we have referred this matter to proper law enforcement authorities who can conduct such in-depth investigations."

Of course, you have to be inclined to conduct such in-depth investigations.

When you have a number of key players in Joplin and Jasper County who are whispering in everybody's ear that we must "move forward" and not dwell on the past, it appears unlikely that we will ever see anything done about the egregious activities in which Woolston and others were involved in the years following the tornado.

Whether Woolston's actions should result in criminal charges remains to be seen. That would require an investigation by someone who is inclined to conduct an investigation.

The people who conducted investigations, Tom Lorraine, Nicole Galloway, and the late Tom Schweich, who began the audit, clearly thought a case against Woolston was worth pursuing.

Our unelected elite, as well as their lapdog lackey, the Joplin Globe, have attacked the findings of the investigations and keep repeating the "move forward" mantra.

That is a slap in the face to the people who signed the petition for the audit.

Moving forward without dealing with what happened after the tornado is also an invitation for another city councilman like Mike Woolston to take future actions that another prosecuting attorney like Dean Dankelson can ignore.

Thanks to those of you who have subscribed to the Turner Report/ Inside Joplin or who have made contributions. These have helped greatly in covering the costs of equipment, copies of documents, and other expenses, as well as helping to pay my bills. I continue to work to make the Turner Report, Inside Joplin, and Inside Joplin Obituaries an alternative news source for the Joplin area, providing news, commentary, and investigative reporting that will not be found in other local media. For those who have not subscribed or who would like to make a contribution, please use the PayPal buttons below. If you would prefer not to use PayPal or a credit card, you can send your subscription or contribution money to me at 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

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Anonymous said...

Vote Carlton for Judge

Dankleson - Puuuu

Booshed again said...

When will the statute of limitations run out on the allegations?

Like they say "Mission Accomplished may mean different things to different people!"

Anonymous said...

You pretty much summed it up when you said, "any prosecutor worth his salt".

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to call Chris Koster? He does not play when it comes to tornado scams.

Anonymous said...

Dankleson want to please his friends. Don't forget his role in appointing the three members to the Joplin School Board. The judge in the case said the advice he gave the Jasper County Commissioners was not supported by he laws. He is part of the Good Old Boy network. Is that what you want when important matters come to court?

Anonymous said...

NOT SURPRISED! Your prosecutor spends his time teaching at MSSU, and attending meetings. He is rarely in the office, and NEVER in court. He has no interest in finding cases, and only prosecutes those that are dropped in his lap. He certainly isn't going to prosecute people who can be campaign donors, he can call in favors for not prosecuting. The last time he had to help try a case, he caused a mistrial. See - This is not a man we need as a judge!