Friday, March 27, 2009

Name That…Paralegal? – Part II

Click here for The Sting – Part I

Will the Real Slim Shady (Character) Please Stand Up?*

With the conflicting – and incomplete – identification information provided to Bo by his “paralegal,” I took out my secret decoder ring and began to unravel the mystery that is The Rogue. I was stunned and very troubled by what I uncovered. This individual has been perfecting his “craft” for nearly two decades and woven an incredibly tangled web.

Scouring public records, much of my research was conducted online. I also spoke with two of his former clients, Bo Mahoney and Ruth Gemini.

The Rogue has identified himself using a number of names, some of which are variations of his actual name, Trenton C. Ross (which does not appear in connection with any of his paralegal or legal document preparation business ventures). I discovered dozens of different business entities, both sole proprietorships and corporations. He even bragged to Gemini that nobody would ever be able to connect him to his businesses! In addition to the aliases, I came across several forgeries, including clients’ signatures on legal documents he has filed with the court without the clients’ knowledge!

Perhaps most astonishing is the fact that Ross is both a registered process server and notary public! He has been quite cagey about it, however, with both the notary commission and process server registration in the name of “T. C. Ross,” making it much easier for him to operate under his preferred alias, “Ted Ross.”

But that hasn’t stopped him from exercising his “creativity.” Despite identifying himself to us and his clients as “Ted Ross,” there are publicly available documents using his address and bearing what appears to be his handwriting and signature, under the following names:

  • Trenton C. Ross
  • Trenton Ross
  • T. C. Ross
  • T. Ross
  • T. Austin
  • B. Watkins
  • D. Markham
  • Pablo Coelho

Pablo Coelho is an entirely fictional creation. According to Gemini, Ross told her he was a writer and that he collected names to use in his writing. While she was in his office, he picked up a book in which he had copied the unusual names he had encountered and read several of them to her, including “Pablo Coelho.” He told her he had found it on an online review. She told me the name made a strong impression on her because of its remarkable similarity to the name of the author Paulo Coelho.

It appears that T. Austin and D. Markham have materialized out of thin air. Brenda Watkins is a former business partner, co-defendant, and client. I believe she knows nothing of his recent dealings using her name.

Givin’ You “The Business” (and other inspirations from Eddie Haskell)

I located several Fictitious Business Name Statements that have been filed by Ross, using his known business address, including:

  • River Springs Legal Services, registered by T. Ross as an individual. Ross lists a residential address that does not appear to exist; this address is written over the top of the P.O. Box he is currently using on Proofs of Service (as a registered process server).
  • Polk's Paralegal Centers, River Springs Legal Services, registered by Julianne Bradford, but using Ross's known business address. Bradford happens to be an attorney and subsequently sued Ross for breach of contract.
  • Polk’s Legal Centers, Paralegal Services of River Springs, registered by Polk’s Paralegal Centers, Inc., a Nevada corporation. Interestingly, there is no record of any Nevada corporation by this name. In addition, this FBN Statement is signed by a person named “B. Watkins, Vice President.” However, Ms. Watkin’s handwriting appears to be identical to Ross’s penmanship.
  • Gold Rush Holding Co., a partnership registered to Ted Ross and B. Watkins as Co-Partners.
  • Polk’s Paralegal Centers, abandoned by Gold Rush Holding Co., a Nevada corporation. This document indicates that Gold Rush is abandoning a DBA for Polk’s Paralegal Centers, and gives the specific file number for that particular FBN Statement. However, no such Statement exists at the River Springs County Clerk’s office. Furthermore, there is no record of a Nevada corporation by this name, and no record in California of such a corporation being registered to do business in this state. This Statement of Abandonment was signed by “T. Ross” in his capacity as Vice President.
  • Polk’s Paralegal Centers, registered by Polk’s Services, Inc., a California corporation. This FBN is signed by an individual named “T. Austin” in his capacity as Vice President. Again, T. Austin’s signature and handwriting appear to match Ross’s signature and printed name. At the time of this filing, Polk’s Services, Inc. did not yet exist. Previously, Bradford had registered the names Polk’s Paralegal Centers and Polk’s Legal Centers, and she has never filed an Abandonment.

The corporate records are even more intriguing. As mentioned above, two of the corporations Ross claimed to have registered FBNs do not actually exist (Gold Rush Holding Co. and Polk’s Paralegal Centers, Inc.). When Kat pulled records from the Secretary of State’s office, this is what we found:

  • Big City Investment Service, currently suspended. The last known registered agent is T. C. Ross. This appears to have been a joint venture between Ross and Brenda Watkins. The corporation, Ross and Watkins are named as co-defendants in several cases.
  • Polk’s Services, Inc., currently suspended. The Articles of Incorporation are signed by “D. Markham, Incorporator,” This signature appears similar to the signature of “B. Watkins” on the FBN for Polk’s Paralegal Services and Paralegal Services of River Springs, which I also believe to be a forgery. The Statement of Information filed immediately after this corporation was formed lists “T. Ross” as the only officer and director of the corporation, and also the registered agent.
  • River Springs Legal Services, Inc. The incorporator is “T. Ross.” The registered agent is “Pablo Coelho,” who does not exist. There are no signatures on the Statements of Information for this corporation, which indicate they were prepared by “Pablo Coelho, President” and “P. Coelho, Atty in Fact.”
  • River Springs Paralegal Services, Inc., currently suspended. Again, the registered agent is “Pablo Coelho.” This corporation is currently suspended.
  • PPC, Inc., the business name Ross is currently using. This business uses the exact same telephone numbers and website as River Springs Paralegal Services, Inc. These Articles of Incorporation were filed just 19 days after Ross and River Springs Legal Services, Inc. were served as defendants in a case brought by Gemini. PPC, Inc. was incorporated by the fictional “P. Coelho,” whose signature is, not surprisingly, very similar to Ross’s. The current registered agent for PPC, Inc. is “Pavlo Coelho” (slightly different spelling than the name used for River Springs Legal Services, Inc. and River Springs Paralegal Services, Inc.).

How, exactly, did I track down The Rogue's true identity? Well, that would be from his extensive litigation history, which dates back several decades – to when he used his actual, true name.

Click Here for Will the Defendant Please Rise - Part III
Click Here for Another Victim's Story - Part IV

Stay tuned to Scribe for more intrigue featuring…The Rogue.

* This is a true story. Content and identifiers have been changed to maintain confidentiality of the innocent, and the integrity of the official investigation.

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