Teflon Man

Now playing in River Oaks, Gary Ross has stayed one step ahead of trouble and judgments across the country.

Ross's e-mail also states: "I have verified through Kloss' CPA that he personally has an $80,000 tax refund coming, as well as an even larger corporate refund."

Kloss still owed Watlee Construction from previous work, and the company didn't want to begin on the hurricane damage until Kloss paid the balance, which he didn't have. So he signed over a classic Corvette and a Harley-Davidson for collateral. Somehow, at least one of these vehicles wound up on eBay. A prospective buyer in Miami contacted Kloss to get the title information, but, after the initial contact, he found himself dealing solely with Ross.

A series of e-mails between Ross and Watlee representatives shows that, while Ross believed he had a right to sell Kloss's vehicles, Watlee claimed the cars and bike were the company's.

Soon afterwards, Ross's relationship with Watlee Construction went further south, with Ross claiming the company never paid his commission, and Watlee claiming Ross pocketed a portion of insurance money that was supposed to go straight to the company. The bickering meant a handful of River Oaks residents' homes were left completely or partially unrepaired. Plus, Ross was telling these homeowners that they owed him money for coordinating the repairs, and he threatened to place liens on their homes. By this time, he suspected that someone from Watlee Construction was behind the anonymous dossiers distributed throughout River Oaks.

According to an e-mail between the prospective Corvette buyer in Miami and a representative of Watlee, Kloss severed his ties with Ross by August. He no longer wanted Ross to have power of attorney.

In September, Ross e-mailed his Palm Beach attorney and Watlee representatives, demanding in bold capital letters that they resolve this untoward business immediately because Ross had colon cancer and was at death's door. He demanded that Watlee wire his lawyer $25,000.

Less than a month later, Kloss was dead.

Ross, who had kept in contact with at least one of Kloss's sisters, allegedly approached the family in a burst of tears, mourning the loss of his troubled friend.

But his friend's apparent suicide hasn't seemed to slow Ross down. Last month, Ross hired an attorney named Evan Moeller to enforce an oral contract between Ross and Watlee Construction. Ross is demanding $63,000 to avoid a lawsuit. Moeller also demanded that no one from the company delete any defamatory e-mails about Ross that Ross believes the company sent to "various individuals, including but not limited to" George Murray, Carolyn Farb and a reporter with the Press, as any such e-mails may become material to a lawsuit.

That Moeller is even able to pursue justice for his client is the result of an incredible run of good luck: If Ross had served more than 11 months on triple five-year concurrent sentences, he might not have met Karen Thomas, which means he wouldn't have been able to move into a Meyerland home paid for by her father; and if the cocaine charges against him weren't dropped, he wouldn't have been able to use that property as collateral for a $24,000 loan from his second wife, Victoria; and if Victoria had told Ross's next wife that she believed he took her for a quarter-million bucks, Donna Hughes might not have married him, which means that her daughter's face might never have been bashed in; and if CPS had pursued charges against Ross instead of letting him live in a Virgin Islands resort, he might never have headed to Palm Beach and then River Oaks; and if at least one powerful socialite had warned the community that Ross might not be who he said he was, then he might not have been able to get money out of one homeowner and the next and the next, including John Kloss. Better for everyone involved — especially the wealthy ones — to keep their mouths shut, even if it means someone else gets screwed.

The ultimate good news is the alleged specter of terminal colon cancer hasn't kept Ross from finding sweet investment deals for people. If you're interested in property in the Virgin Islands, Ross has a real peach. It's best to let Ross describe it in his own words, as found in an e-mail to an associate:

"...while in St. John last week, I ran into a New York hedge fund guy I know who owns an incredible parcel of land inside the U.S. national park. The property is less than a two-minute drive from Laurence Rockefeller's Caneel Bay Resort. My friend told me he is in the middle of a brutal divorce and the markets have devastated him, so rather than start construction on the home he had designed for the property, he intends to sell the property, along with his complete set of totally approved construction documents...He was going to list the property next week, but I asked him to give me a few weeks to try and find a buyer first...The incredibly beautiful, proposed home can be placed in a short-term rental program with my friend....I cannot afford to purchase and construct the proposed home on this property, along with my other project, too, but thought of you because this is truly the 'once-in-a-­lifetime' opportunity to obtain the absolute finest property you could ever purchase inside the national park; it's a legacy."
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