A “Frivolous $12 MIL Lawsuit”
By Edward Snook
Editor’s Note: Each and every hard-working, tax-paying citizen in Wallowa County is being sued and many local citizens are totally unaware. Realizing the need for all Wallowa County residents to know the truth about the lawsuit, those who are pursuing it and issues that are related, the US~Observer is making our report available to every household in Wallowa County.
Wallowa County, OR – The US~Observer has been investigating a lawsuit that was originally filed for $10 million dollars against Wallowa County, Oregon and Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen. The lawsuit has since been amended to $12 million, and to add Lloyd Trackwell as a defendant.
Corruption in Wallowa County?
Back in 2007, a former agent of American Bank of Missouri (ABM) was on the trail of Wallowa County residents Bruce and Venese Hampton. ABM loaned the Hampton Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust $193,598.00 in 2002. The loan was collateralized with money coming from two other Hampton Charitable Remainder Trusts.
In 2004, the Hamptons reportedly stopped making payments on this loan. According to sources, “the Hamptons stripped the trusts they gave as collateral to ABM and then stopped making payments on the loan.” The loan was obtained for the purpose of purchasing a $7 million dollar life insurance policy for Venese Hampton. It’s important to note as you read on that most major issues dealt with in this article, including the current 12 million dollar civil rights suit against Wallowa County, started with Bruce and Venese Hampton failing to make the payments on the loan ABM made to their trust.
ABM wanted their money back so they hired Lloyd Trackwell to find the money or assets purchased with that money. He found the reported asset in Wallowa County, Oregon. The Hamptons had allegedly used the money to purchase the Pocket Ranch located on the Imnaha River.
ABM sued the Hamptons to get their collateral back and the Hamptons allegedly created a great diversion, using Enterprise Attorney Rahn Hostetter. They sued ABM for unfair debt collection. They claimed that Trackwell was stalking them, and with the full assistance of Judge Daniel J. Hill of Umatilla County and Judge Russ West of Union County, they turned the apparently valid debt collection effort/ABM lawsuit completely around. Most of those in the supposed “legal system” in Eastern Oregon are now focused on Trackwell’s distant past and a “completely absurd stalking charge,” instead of the concrete, underlying issues that started this whole mess.
I can factually state that Attorney Rahn Hostetter is an absolute master at changing the subject and diverting ones attention – deception! He has attempted this with me on separate occasions…
Here’s what Robert Glarner Jr., Chairman of the Board of ABM wrote to Sheriff Fred Steen on January 5, 2009, before the bank’s incompetent insurance company rubber-stamped alleged corruption:
“I am outraged at the lack of attention by law enforcement authorities to this matter. American Bank of Missouri has provided clear documentation of the activities of Bruce Hampton and Jonel K. Ricker regarding the assets of the Bruce and Venese Hampton Charitable Trusts which I believe to be criminal… As I have previously explained, I believe that the Hamptons and Mr. Ricker made fraudulent representations to the bank in obtaining the loan by failing to notify the bank that the trusts were defective… Most importantly, after the loan had been made Jonel Ricker and Bruce Hampton cashed in the annuities at Pacific Life thereby eliminating the stream of income that was the security for the loan… I have reason to believe that Mr. Ricker and Mr. Hampton then invested those trust monies in a ranch in Wallowa County, Oregon while concealing these assets from the bank. Finally, in April of 2007 Bruce Hampton, acting as trustee of his own charitable trust, transferred the ranch to himself and his wife and then represented to the bank that the assets had been dissipated through bad investments… I firmly believe the law has been broken and I believe Oregon authorities are remiss if they do not act promptly to prosecute these crimes.”
After reading Glarner’s letter I find that the lawsuit against Sheriff Steen and Wallowa County is absolutely unbelievable folks – Wallowa County and Sheriff Steen are being sued for his investigation, and Lloyd Trackwell has a stalking order for doing an excellent job of finding, what is alleged to be the bank’s asset.
I’m quite sure that Hostetter and the Hampton’s would produce a much different version – Like how they are afraid of Lloyd Trackwell – Or, how Trackwell cost them millions by telling people that Hampton is a fraud and dishonest. I just can’t find any reason for them to be afraid of Trackwell other than he has driven past their homes on public highways looking for evidence and he has made statements to others that they are fraudulent people. It is important to note that Trackwell has never once committed any threatening physical violence or physical act against anyone involved. After looking at all the evidence, I believe him, and obviously Sheriff Fred Steen believes him based on the evidence…
Judge Russell West of Union County issued the completely bogus stalking order against Trackwell, and retired Baker County Circuit Court Judge Greg Baxter is appointed to hear Trackwell’s alleged violation of it. Whoever prosecutes this ludicrous charge will have to live, knowing the entire public is aware of their actions.
Back to Underlying Issues
ABM’s lawsuit went away when ABM’s incompetent insurance company paid the Hamptons $2.4 million to settle the Hampton’s “absurd claims.” The original note for over 193,000 reportedly went unpaid, Trackwell was left with a stalking order and he’s now charged with violating it, and Wallowa County residents and their Sheriff are left with a $12 million lawsuit. What in the world is wrong with this picture?
Since discovering the Hampton’s alleged fraud on ABM and completing a major investigation, Trackwell has been claiming that the Hampton’s have evaded taxes, defrauded banks, etc., all with the help of Attorney Rahn Hostetter – and Trackwell’s extensive documentation appears to back up his allegations.
My conclusion is that Trackwell never stalked anyone! Trackwell certainly could have been sued for Slander if his allegations against Hamptons, Hostetter and others were false, but that would have meant that Trackwell could have used facts and truth regarding his allegations as a defense in a Slander case. This never happened and any prudent person should clearly see my logical conclusion here – the old “bait and switch.” The entire truth coming out in open court – not a chance.
Alleged Evil – Rampant in Wallowa County
US~Observer sources have referred to these current and past events as “evil.” When the US~Observer began its investigation into this matter Attorney Rahn Hostetter was alleged to be one of the Hamptons main accomplices as far as allegations of corruption in Wallowa County go, so our investigation started with this reportedly “fine Christian Attorney.”
We are delving into Attorney Rahn Hostetter’s “ethics record” because we believe it’s an important and intricate part of the alleged conspiracy against Wallowa County, Sheriff Steen and others. The following absolute facts regarding Rahn Hostetter clearly show that he is an extremely dishonest person and not to be trusted – and even Hostetter’s “Christian” friends and loyal supporters can’t disagree with this factual statement!
Hostetter’s son is Attorney Zachery Hostetter and he is the one who, along with Hostetter’s partner Attorney Rebecca Knapp, has filed the suit against Wallowa County, Steen and Trackwell. Furthermore, the US~Observer has obtained evidence showing that even though Zachery Hostetter and Rebecca Knapp filed the “bogus” $12 million dollar suit, Rahn Hostetter is directing it. The following is a portion of Hostetter’s seriously tainted history.
Attorney Dave Baum Files OSB Complaint against Partner Hostetter
Union County – In 1997, Attorney Dave Baum from the LaGrande, Oregon law firm of Mautz, Baum, Hostetter, and O’Hanlon filed a complaint against partner Rahn Hostetter for taking law-firm money and depositing it into his personal account on different occasions. On July 2, 1997 Assistant Disciplinary Counsel with the Oregon State Bar (OSB) Martha Hicks charged Attorney Rahn Hostetter with “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation – willful deceit or misconduct in the legal profession.” These charges were sent to the State Professional Responsibility Board (SPRB). Hicks recommended “formal prosecution” of Hostetter and he was ultimately suspended for 90 days.
Two More Valid OSB Complaints against Hostetter
Wallowa County – Also in 1997, an OSB complaint was filed against Rahn Hostetter regarding his “unethical and corrupt” actions involving his representation of Wallowa County resident Pearl Ingle (now deceased). According to the complaint, Hostetter “represented Pearl Ingle regarding funds she had borrowed from Andrew Hohn” and then Hostetter “represented Hohn in his efforts to collect on the outstanding balances of the loans in which the Accused (Hostetter) had represented Ingle… without obtaining the consent of the personal representative of Ingle’s estate.” Hostetter “did not make any disclosure to the Ingle Estate of his prior representation of Pearl Ingle.” Multiple witnesses have accused Hostetter of “fleecing and ruining Pearl Ingle’s life while she was mentally incapable of protecting herself.”
During Hostetter’s trial in 2008, charging him with multiple offenses in the Ingle and Grohs matters (two separate cases that were tried at the same time, although they were filed on different dates), it was proven that “Hostetter or someone in his office prepared a deed in lieu of foreclosure for Parcels 1, 2 and 4, removed the notarized page from the prior Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure attaching it to the second one and had it recorded.” In Sept of 2010, Hostetter “stipulated to conduct involving dishonesty in a Stipulation of Discipline in the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon.”
In the Trial Panel “Disposition” the Trial Members were, “unanimous in their belief that Hostetter, if he practices law again, will commit the same violations, which were alleged and proven in this case, unless supervised in some way.” Hostetter was then suspended from the practice of law for a period of 150 days, obviously with no future supervision by the OSB. It has been reported more than once that when Hostetter is sanctioned by the OSB, he simply goes back to his firm in Enterprise, Oregon and has his “Attorney son and Attorney partner Rebecca Knapp conduct his business.”
More Corruption – Hostetter’s Swindle of Courtney Motors?
Wallowa County – On May 12, 2010, Circuit Court Judge Patricia Sullivan signed a “Stipulated General Judgment of Dismissal” in Courtney v. D. Rahn Hostetter. Sources inform the US~Observer that Hostetter represented Robert and Sharon Courtney during the sale of their Enterprise, Oregon car dealership and that he also reportedly represented the purchasers D& R Motors. We are informed that Hostetter or his office forged Courtney’s signature on UCC documents so that Hostetter could get a release of the UCC filings to allow the purchasers of Courtney Motors to use the shop equipment, etc., at Courtney Motors as collateral to obtain a loan. Later on, the purchasers reportedly had to file Bankruptcy and that is when Robert Courtney discovered that Hostetter’s Office had forged his signature. Courtney sued Hostetter and the Professional Liability Fund (PLF), which is the part of the OSB that insures attorneys in Oregon, obtained a settlement with the Courtneys for a substantial amount.
Courtney’s Attorney Wade Bettis Jr. of LaGrande, Oregon signed the agreement as did Robert Courtney, which includes a paragraph stating, “The undersigned agree to keep the facts and circumstances underlying this settlement and terms and conditions of this settlement confidential. If we are to believe that the practice of law in Oregon is “Ethical,” why in the world do judges, the PLF, attorneys and others within our legal system routinely “seal the records” or have non-disclosure statements in their settlements and judgments? Could it be that they just don’t want the public to know about corrupted dealings?
No Forgery Charges?
If Hostetter forged the Courtney’s signature then we have a case of forgery, which is obviously being covered-up, in-part, by the PLF/OSB. The US~Observer obtained a report prepared by Travis King, an Expert Document Examiner, dated February 8, 2010. King states in his report that the documents he examined that were allegedly signed by Robert Courtney, which are reportedly the release documents of the UCC filings that gave Robert Courtney a lien on the equipment, etc., located at Courtney Motors (supposed to be in force until the purchaser’s obligations to him were paid in full) and valid examples of Courtney’s signature are different. This means that Hostetter or his office, allegedly committed forgery and the OSB allegedly helped him cover it up when they paid Courtney off and had him sign the non-disclosure settlement. We have laws in the State of Oregon that state a person is guilty of a crime if they commit forgery and I don’t find any exemptions that apply to this issue under those laws.
During a July 16, 2012 phone conversation with Robert Courtney he refused to disclose the facts of his case due to the confidentiality agreement he had with the OSB and Hostetter, however the US~Observer had already obtained most of the facts and documents from our own sources.
One More Black Mark – Farmers Gregory and Claudette Wieck File Suit against Hostetter
Wallowa County – The Wieck’s state in their OSB complaint dated April 25, 2010, “We believe that Mr. Hostetter has violated the rules of Ethics that govern Oregon lawyers regarding the disclosure of Conflicts of Interest and he committed acts involving fraud, dishonesty, and deceit. We also believe that he committed the crime of Fraud.” The OSB must agree with the Wieck’s as they have scheduled a hearing (trial) for Hostetter this fall and the Wieck’s have filed their civil lawsuit, which is going through the “legal” process.
What? More Alleged Corruption? – Charles and Lucinda Olson (Elk Mountain Cattle Company, Inc.) File Complaint against Hostetter
Wallowa County – Charles and Lucinda Olson have filed a claim with the OSB against Rahn Hostetter. They report that he represented them and that he represented Community Bank in Joseph during the same time they had a mortgage problem with this bank. They claim that Hostetter told them to sign foreclosure documents with the bank instead of having them file a Bankruptcy claim that would have enabled them to re-organize their debts. Given the history that Hostetter has with Community Bank and the reputations for honesty that the Olson’s have within the community, I believe that they have a valid case against him. The Olson’s claim that Hostetter cost them $1-$2 million and they are waiting to see if the OSB takes any action against him. The US~Observer will provide updates on the Olson and Wieck cases as we receive information.
Back to the $12 Million Lawsuit and Sheriff Fred Steen
The US~Observer’s extensive investigation into the Hampton “frivolous lawsuit” against Wallowa County and Sheriff Fred Steen has proven that Sheriff Steen has done exactly what a good law enforcement officer should do. He was presented with evidence of fraud and other crimes and he started an investigation. Lloyd Trackwell complained to Sheriff Steen in person and in writing as did other interested parties, including professionals and rather than ignoring the evidence – like state and federal agencies and prosecutors have done – he did his job. He attempted to get these other agencies and prosecutors involved and they have done nothing. Now, Steen is being sued by the Hamptons, just like they sued the American Bank of Missouri.
This case should be all about Bruce and Venese Hampton, Rahn Hostetter and those who have allegedly committed crimes, not about a responsible Sheriff, a superb county commissioner and Lloyd Trackwell. I should note that the Hampton/Hostetter $12 million dollar lawsuit contains blatant lies about Wallowa County Commissioner Paul Castilleja, even though he hasn’t yet been named as a defendant.
Related and Semi-Related Continuing Investigations
The US~Observer is investigating many allegations concerning Bruce and Venese Hampton, Rahn Hostetter and numerous others who have done “business” with them. We are looking closely at the 2003 Rehder loan from Community Bank; Wallowa Title Company; a $940,000.00 loan from Community Bank that is alleged to have been fraudulent; ties between Judge Russ West and his stockbroker friend; issues involving Judge Daniel Hill, his wife and their finances, that are alleged to have created serious conflicts of interest, etc.; the Byrde Hill case; the Hampton/Boise Cascade issue; Hostetter and Hurley and the Rugged Country Inn issue; numerous allegations regarding the relationship and deals between Hostetter and Rocky Dixon; the Blockland Trust case; allegations of Elder Abuse; numerous allegations involving Bruce Hampton, Bruce Penoske, Hostetter, Bank of Wallowa County and Community Bank; separate allegations against Community Bank, Wallowa Title and Jeff Edison; Nature Conservancy allegedly “corrupt” deals, and more…
Don’t miss up-coming editions on these matters as the evidence is brought forward, and if anyone has information on the people or institutions involved in this article, you are urged to contact Edward Snook at 541-474-7885 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be responsible and contact us.
Editor’s Note: Good advice from the US~Observer to anyone who takes part in damaging others wrongfully in Wallowa County or elsewhere would be: just start doing right. Stop the abuse, and get it behind you. If you are involved in the above story in any way whatsoever, chances are we have that information. Short of you cleaning up your act, you can look forward to your friends and neighbors knowing exactly what we know. If you are a public official who has chosen to go after the innocent or push your weight around, stop it now, or your career will soon be ruined – You will have wished you had taken this writer’s sound advice.
If you are one of the government agencies that has turned a blind-eye to valid complaints related to this article – we know your names, titles, and the specific information you have ignored. I promise you will be held accountable before these issues are laid to rest.
Edward Snook’s Note: I have received reports that Bruce Hampton is threatening to sue the US~Observer if we publish about him. Here it is Bruce… Our lawyer Michael Minns and I would welcome a closer relationship with you.
It might be real nice for the good people involved in these issues to finally get their day in court, without insurance companies and others making it impossible. On the other hand, it might just be real bad for those who have done wrong.