Brian Edgar Culwell, the subject of a Houston Press expose last year, is back in court. A frequent defendant in criminal cases over the years, Culwell, whose family operates the precious-metal buyers with the ubiquitous "We Love Gold Diggers" billboards, is a plaintiff this time around.
In a suit filed on August 24, Culwell claims an area man named Norman Carl Kraatz defamed and libeled him with several statements Kraatz e-mailed to Gold and Silver Buyers pitchman, conservative talk show host and occasionally erratic driver Michael Berry.
- "Wanted to let you know that you are advertising for a rapist."
- "My best friends son worked for Gold and Silver Buyers and a girl that worked for them was drugged and raped by the owner."
- "I know this because my friends son [name redacted] was key in the owner settling out of court for 7 million dollars."
- [Name redacted] was dating the girl at the time and he knew that she went and had a rape test...and the results showed she was drugged and raped."
Through attorney Sanford Dow, Culwell has denied the allegations.
Culwell's suit claims that he has been defamed in writing, thus injuring his reputation and thereby exposing him to financial injury. The suit also claims that Culwell is affiliated with Gold and Silver Buyers only through marriage and that he is not an officer or director, shareholder or owner of GSB. (Gold and Silver Buyers Inc. is also listed as a plaintiff; All Phase Welding & Marine, Inc. [Kraatz's place of employment] is listed as a defendant.)
The suit seeks actual and exemplary damages with interest, legal costs, and any further relief to which Culwell and GSB can show themselves justly entitled to.
One year ago tomorrow, Culwell sued another man for defamation of character: me.
He claimed that I had disparaged him when I sent H-E-B's corporate office an e-mail apprising them of his shady past. (Gold and Silver Buyers rents space from H-E-B.) Culwell's earlier life included using the name of Hakeem Olajuwon's DreamKids foundation as a front for an allegedly fraudulent mail-order diamond jewelry business, his ownership of some reportedly shady travel sites, and a standing six-figure judgment against him that he had not yet made good.
The suit did not question me for accurately pointing out that Culwell was a thrice-convicted felon, but Culwell and his attorney (Sanford Dow again) were right about one thing. Culwell did not go to prison for the DreamKids caper. Despite a long and thorough investigation by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, that case was dropped when Culwell was convicted of felony theft in another case, one in which he defrauded an ailing old woman out of the deed to a Heights rental property. (That swindle was also the source of the outstanding civil judgment I mentioned in my e-mail to H-E-B.)
In that suit, Culwell admitted to a slightly closer affiliation with GSB. As with the Kraatz suit, Culwell denied being a GSB owner, officer or director, but did admit to being a member of a Texas limited liability corporation that had an ownership interest in GSB.
Five weeks after it was filed, Culwell and GSB pulled the suit.
Kraatz has yet to file a response to Culwell's suit.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.