Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Public deserves answers from Stapley

Good editorial in the East Valley Tribune today. Some excerpts -

...it’s increasingly clear that Stapley owes the public a detailed explanation about his ongoing financial ties to Conley Wolfswinkel, a convicted felon who managed to wriggle out of most of $3 billion in debts, penalties and interest assessed after his land empire collapsed nearly two decades ago.

Tribune writer Mark Flatten reported Sunday a pattern has emerged in that Stapley buys land from a Wolfswinkel-related business, which in turn pays Stapley a sizeable amount of the property’s value each year to keep the land available for that same company to buy back at a later time.

These buyback options put $1.8 million in Stapley’s pocket between August 2003 and July 2008, Flatten reported. That’s a substantial amount of money for Stapley, who reported to the IRS in 2006 that his adjusted gross income actually was a loss of nearly $50,000, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

These odd arrangements point to a serious entanglement between Stapley and a man who has amassed a second fortune while operating at the very edge of the law. Wolfswinkel avoids any direct ownership (at least on paper) in East Valley real estate because of his 1993 conviction on bank fraud charges and those multi-billion dollar judgments that eventually were settled for less than $22 million. Instead, Wolfswinkel serves as a “consultant” to a series of businesses owned by other family members.

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