20 May 2007 at 8:30:48 AM
A faithful reader sent this in. Synposis: Woman dies, and her half ownership in oil, gas, and mineral royalties was to pass on to her descendants. But they didn't get them, Velnon, a limited liability partnership filed in Hearne, did. Who was in Velnon? Bryan Russ Jr (who is also, coincidentally, city attorney!) and James McCullough. The company Velnon was represented by a law firm that included (can you guess? I'll bet you can) Russ and McCullough. Here's where it gets weird. How was it that Velnon could take over the rights? Because they said they had a deed from Deminimus Management, which then transferred a 90 percent interest to Velnon. But look at this.
The petition based the claim on a deed issued by Deminimus Management - a limited liability partnership also run by Russ and McCullough - to Velnon. The deed, filed the same day as the petition, transferred a 90 percent interest to Velnon, but doesn't explain how Deminimus acquired the royalty interest, the lawsuit states.
"The apparent purpose of the Deminimus Deed was to create some colorable claim to the royalty interest to permit the plaintiff and its cohorts to perpetuate their fraud upon this court and the Erwin Heirs," according to the motion for a new trial filed on behalf of the family.
Velnon then sold the royalty interests to Flare Royalties. Can you guess who owns Flare Royalties? I'll bet you can.
The claim was recognized in January 2006, the same month Velnon sold the royalty interest to Flare Royalties - another limited liability partnership owned by Russ and McCullough - for $78,350. That same month, the Palmos, Russ, McCullough & Russ law firm was awarded more than $5,000 in fees for the sale, court documents state.
What's also creepy in this story is that one of the REAL heirs to this land had gone to Russ for legal advice after her mother died.
Roberts said she first learned there was an existing oil lease on the land in 1998. Roberts found the paperwork after she and her sister were given power of attorney for their mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
The 47-year-old - whose father, Henry Erwin, was a cousin of Elizabeth Warren - said she and her sister went to Russ for legal help with the oil and gas lease. The pair wanted to know if the lease was valuable, and Russ told them there were too many heirs for it to be worth anything.
Right. Except worth something to Russ et al.
"As far as I know, none of us have signed over our rights because we didn't even know we had them," Roberts said. "That's just straight up dirty, right there."
Roberts said Russ and McCullough thought they could take advantage of her family because they thought most of Elizabeth Warren's relatives were no longer living.
"I'm sure the dirty [expletive] thought we were old and dead," Roberts said. "But guess what? We're not."
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