By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
By Richard Connelly
By Jeff Balke
By Casey Michel
By Craig Hlavaty
In a July 2006 letter from Jaynes to Cyrus's attorney, Jon Bohn, posted on Predatorix, Jaynes writes: "You...describe this alleged 'partnership' as believed to be a 'Texas partnership'...No such partnership exists."
However, as Cyrus discovered through the Texas Secretary of State, there was indeed a Texas limited partnership by that name. And in a deposition four months later, ORIX executive Jeffrey Yarckin said OCM Operating did indeed exist, although he didn't know what it was.
Naturally, this all wound up on Predatorix, with Cyrus's commentary:
"It seems ORIX would rather lie and hope to get away with it rather than admit their guilt, as usual. Busted!"
This is not the first time that a member of the Rafizadeh family has alleged a conspiracy targeting their properties.
In 2001, hundreds of Louisiana state employees who worked in a New Orleans office building owned by the Rafizadehs complained of toxic mold, faulty elevators and nonworking heating and air-conditioning units. They said water leaking from pipes soaked asbestos-laden ceiling tiles, which fell onto their desks. After state agencies moved 700 workers out of the building, the workers filed a class-action suit that was eventually settled out of court for $4.25 million.
According to a series of articles by Greg Thomas of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a fire marshal found that not all of the building's 44 stories had a sprinkler system. And in 1996 and 1998, the Rafizadehs were "cited by the Department of Environmental Quality for violating the building's asbestos management plan. The building was issued $130,000 in fines."
Schumann told Thomas that a piece of building material containing asbestos discovered in 1998 was planted. He said the environmental claims were part of a state conspiracy to declare a health emergency and quickly move its employees into a new building without having to go through a public bid procedure.
And then there is, of course, the finding of fraud regarding the apartment complex Mondona Rafizadeh owned in Louisiana. The judge in that case found Mondona's company guilty of falsifying rent rolls, not maintaining the property and missing payments. The judge's ruling also described odd behavior on the part of Mondona and Schumann.
"Mr. Rafizadeh became very evasive and nonresponsive during cross-examination," the ruling states. "Often there were long dissertations without ever answering the question posed."
As for Mondona: "Mrs. Rafizadeh also was unable to answer questions on cross-examination as posed. The court again and again instructed her to answer the questions. She felt she needed to say a lot of things and would not be denied."
And ORIX provided the Houston Press with photographs of the apartment complex that show conditions considerably below Four Seasons standards. Cyrus says those pictures were taken after ORIX took over the property, and show ORIX's neglect, not his mother's.
ORIX attorney Greg May would not comment on particulars of Predatorix, but he stated in an e-mail, "[ORIX] intends to vigorously pursue its counterclaim and maintains that Predatorix operates to harm ORIX Capital Markets' business reputation."
May also pointed out that, when Predatorix first launched, Cyrus implied that ORIX's tactics drove one borrower to an early grave. However, May pointed out, "in reality, the individual was alive and well and appeared at a court hearing." (While Cyrus has removed that person's name, he still dedicates the site in part to "the owner of...Empire Center Dallas, who died of a heart attack after his property was seized as reported in ORIX' servicing report. Also, Justin & Daren Ruffin, twin brothers that drowned in a seized apartment's pool." He gives no explanation or support for these claims.)
Furthermore, ORIX's motion to dismiss Cyrus's (Super Future Equities') lawsuit states: "Cobbled together from pleadings filed in litigation between ORIX Capital and various financial institutions, the [suit] is an ill-designed patchwork of allegations that fail miserably in their attempt to support viable causes of action against [ORIX]. Indeed, SFE's claims...collapse even under minimal scrutiny."
Cyrus says he didn't know what to expect when he launched the site. So it was a surprise when he got his first legal threat in March 2006.
"I got this e-mail one day from the attorneys and I didn't really know what it was. So I asked [his cousin] Tom, I'm like, 'What is this?' and he's like, 'They sued you.'"
By September, ORIX attorney Beth Jaynes was complaining about the snippets of deposition videos Cyrus posted on the site. She called them "misleading."
Jaynes did not return calls seeking more information about the videos' misleading nature — specifically, her deposition of Cyrus's 14-year-old brother, Darius. While Darius, like his brother, is probably a sharp kid, he looks absolutely baffled by Jaynes's questions. When she asks Darius questions about whether he was a bondholder in any of the trusts ORIX serviced, he asks her to repeat questions three, four, five times.
ORIX's team of attorneys also accused Cyrus of coming to their Dallas office, against a judge's orders. They said they had a witness who would testify to such. However, at the time Cyrus was supposed to have been in the office, he says he was at an academic club meeting, and dozens of people could back him up. Cyrus then announced on Predatorix he had a cloning machine for sale. The lawyers soon dropped that angle.
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