By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Highlights from Hair Balls
IRS Pain for Brown Aide
More troubles for Park.
City Council Member Helena Brown's volunteer "senior adviser," William Park, who was barred from the investment industry last year and has come under criticism for his apparent influence over the councilwoman, owes the Internal Revenue Service $339,160 in federal liens, raising significant ethical concerns over why Brown has selected as her chief business counsel a disgraced financier who, evidently, also doesn't pay taxes.
All of the federal liens against Park, filed on August 2, 2006, are outstanding and involve four separate amounts ranging from $65,818 to $105,930, according to a review of his record with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. A federal tax lien is a government claim against the estate of an individual who has neglected his taxes. It's unclear which of Park's accounts were taxed, or whether he can afford to pay off the liens. Neither he nor Brown responded to repeated interview requests.
Earlier this month, we published a cover story, "Strings Attached" [July 12], delving into Park's connections with Brown, discovering Park has quite a past. He was once the CEO of a company called United Equity Securities, which had offices all over the country. After it was discovered that the company had been peddling investments in Provident Royalties — which was actually a $485 million nationwide Ponzi scheme — Park's company disappeared.
Later, Park was banned from the financial industry after he failed to comply with an arbitration award against him for a bevy of financial law violations involving investments by his ex-girlfriend, Sonie Kim of Los Angeles. Kim filed that suit in Los Angeles County last April, and the court entered a judgment confirming the decision, awarding her $133,875. Like his taxes, Park hasn't paid her yet.
Bob Cuellar, who worked closely with Park for ten years and once considered him a close friend, expressed dismay that with all of Park's legal troubles, he would inject himself into a public role as Brown's chief financial adviser. "I don't know what his problems were, or are," said Cuellar, who's a broker with Great Nation Investment Corporation in McAllen. "But I can tell you he's full of drama — in everything."
Cuellar added: "He left a fire trail behind him wherever he went. Things were burning. The thing about him is he's a BS-er and a liar and you can't believe him. He impresses himself on people. He's charismatic. Very charismatic. He's a phenomenal speaker and a phenomenal business guy. The problem is he's got a temper and he takes everything literally and personally. And he's vindictive."
That much, at least, has been apparent in a defamation lawsuit Park filed in Harris County last April against a former business partner, Daniel Layton, his lawyers and Kim, alleging they had maliciously tried to ruin his reputation. This stems from an earlier lawsuit, since dismissed, that Park brought against Layton, accusing him of fraud. In that suit, Layton and Kim had said Park was dangerous and heavily armed. Kim said in a sworn statement that Park had made threats on President Barack Obama's life.
Park's lawyer, Kevin Colbert, called those remarks "patently false." According to the defamation suit, the Secret Service questioned Park at his residence on February 29. In his affidavit, Park denied making threats against the president, and when presented with a scenario of what he would do if given alone time with Obama, Park said he responded: "I would get my Bible and try to lead Obama to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour." The Secret Service, according to the suit, alerted Brown to the circumstances, and she defended Park.
Andrew Harvin, one of the lawyers being sued by Park, called the litigation "frivolous," saying it, too, will soon be dismissed.
Helena Brown has, meanwhile, launched a campaign over the last week denying Park's financial history. She's been on the radio and on television and has released a number of statements saying it's all "misinformation" by "liberal media outlets."
In vintage Brownian prose, she says: "Like many volunteers in the community and at all levels of government and politics, William Park has stepped forward. When a lone voice rises above the chorus, those who are threatened seek to silence it by all means, including by attacking those individuals who openly align themselves to the effort.
"Expect the attacks to get more vicious," she said.
RIP, Rodeo's Broc Cresta
Popular rider dies.
Sad news last week that professional team roper Broc Cresta was found dead in his living quarters Saturday, July 28, while in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to compete in the annual Frontier Days rodeo there.
We interviewed Cresta in March of 2010, when he was in town competing in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Cresta, who won Rookie of the Year in 2007, and then won in Cheyenne in 2008, was based in California.
As he told writer Paul Knight at the time: