NCFM NOTE: Excellent article in the Mariposa Gazette which has been covering the Jerry Cox case in depth.
December 06, 2018
By GREG LITTLE Editor, Mariposa Gazette
The attorney for landowner Jerry Cox has filed a court petition in the controversial case asking for various relief.
The first, according to the document filed by attorney [NCFM Vice-President] Marc Angelucci of Crestline, is that Cox be allowed back on his property. The other major issue is that Angelucci is asking the court’s permission to file a lawsuit against the receiver in the case.
The case revolves around Cox’s property, which was seized by Mariposa County after a court order in 2017 and then turned over to a receivership company charged with overseeing the property.
Cox, owner of JDC Land Co., was found in violation of 101 code violations on the property, an issue Cox has contested since the outset.
A hearing about the requested motions is set for 3:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 7 in Mariposa County Superior Court before Judge Dana Walton.
“This case is nothing short of a land grab,” wrote Angelucci in the filing. “It began with a false accusation of rape that was later dismissed.”
Cox was charged with 14 felony counts of rape and other crimes by the Mariposa County District Attorney’s Office.
The felony rape case against Cox was dropped in August 2017 — almost two years after it was filed.
“I dismissed it because I didn’t feel I could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” said District Attorney Thomas E. Cooke at the time.
Cooke is leaving his post as the district attorney, having chosen not to run for reelection.
It was alleged in the felony case that Cox met a female on a dating website and then committed rape, sodomy, kidnapping and other alleged crimes.
Cox was arrested Nov. 13, 2015, by the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office. The woman who alleged the charges, Ashley Kristen Harris, said they took place at Cox’s ranch located on CYA Road in Mt. Bullion.
However, the case was dismissed after the woman accusing Cox of rape gave a deposition in an unrelated worker’s compensation case which led the defense to claim she was not raped by Cox and instead was attempting to extort Cox.
But county officials have claimed the rape case had nothing to do with the receivership case.
In his filing, Angelucci is alleging “numerous violations of duty” by Mark Adams of California Receivership Group, the company which has handled the receivership case.
Those include inverse condemnation, abuse of receivership duties, slander of title, fraud, abuse of process, violation of the Code of Civil Procedures and “other causes of action.”
The filing also goes straight to the rape case allegations.
“Based on false accusations of rape that were later dismissed, the county raided the property at a time when the property was off the market and conducting no business other than livestock sales for approximately 18 months,” the statement reads.
Part of the claim by the county is that Cox used his ranch for tourism, charging guests to stay on the property but not paying the appropriate tourism-related taxes owed to the county.
In July 2017, Judge Walton entered an order to allow the receiver to manage the property and to obtain a loan for up to $25,000 for “purposes of security” at the property and “developing a rehabilitation plan” for the property, according to the court filing.
The order also said the receiver would develop a rehabilitation plan and “shall obtain three rehabilitation cost estimates for licensed contractors to perform the repairs necessary …”
“The receiver never obtained any rehabilitation estimates,” Angelucci wrote in the court filing. “Instead, in September 2017, the receiver requested an additional $257,000 to fix the alleged violations on the property.”
It further states that since the receiver did not receive estimates, JDC Land obtained “several estimates” between May 24 and Aug. 3 of this year. Those estimates, the filing states, were between $8,000 and $13,000 to make the repairs.
It also states the court order required the receiver to pay costs for “operating, managing, maintaining and rehabilitating” the property.
“ … the receiver did not use any of the funds on repairs, property taxes, utilities or other which remain unpaid,” wrote Angelucci.
The next point raised by the attorney is his contention that Cox should be allowed back on his property.
“The court has the power in equity to amend the receivership order at any time to allow Mr. Cox onto his property,” the filing reads.
It also contends the costs submitted by the receiver are “excessive” and Cox is requesting a jury trial against Adams.
The filing also said that Cox contends the security bill charged by the receiver is excessive and they intend to oppose it in “its entirety.”
Under California law, actions taken by parties involved in a receivership case have to be approved by the court. Angelucci is asking the court to allow Cox to either get a jury trial about these issues or to file a separate lawsuit (against Cox) and the county for what they say are the violations by Adams and, subsequently, the county.
He said those violations “amount to a shakedown and miscarriage of justice.”
In his filing, Angelucci goes on to outline various contentions of the code violations cited by the county and agreed to by the court when it ruled in favor of the county.
One is that Adams failed to obtain the rehabilitation estimates for the property. Another is he failed to develop a rehabilitation plan.
Also, Angelucci alleges Adams exaggerated repair costs. He said Adams estimated over $250,000 just in repairs when Aaron Calvalaro Construction gave an estimate of $7,900 for repairs.
“The difference is so enormous that it creates a res ipsa loquitur (the principle that the occurrence of an accident implies negligence) presumption of negligence, if not outright exaggeration and fraud on the part of the receiver,” the filing states.
He also alleges Adams failed to use the receivership funds correctly, including not paying for repairs, taxes, utilities and more, as required by the court order.
The lawyer also claims there was not a need for armed guards on the property.
“The county used pending criminal charges in its receivership motion despite extensive exculpatory evidence, including over 160 text messages that were deleted from the alleged victim’s cell phone while the phone was in possession of law enforcement, exculpatory postings that were deleted from the alleged victim’s Facebook page while the pages was in the control of law enforcement, and the alleged victim’s own admission in her worker’s compensation deposition that she was not raped,” it states. “The county used a sealed request for a search warrant and it appears that it may have been an improper use of a criminal investigation for a civil matter without gathering exculpatory evidence.”
Angelucci also raises the issue of the guards on the property bringing children and allowing them to use Cox’s all-terrain vehicle.
“If the property was such a safety hazard, the guards would not have brought their children onto the property,” wrote Angelucci.
The filing also alleges the guards used the Honda Pioneer off-road vehicle “for several months and damaged the machine steering suspension. The guards’ children and grandchildren were seen vacationing at the house and on the property (despite all of the alleged health violations).”
Various other alleged violations are also mentioned, including failure to list permits, false claims about “neglected animals,” alleged abuse of animals by the receiver and a false allegation about a bridge.
Concerning the bridge allegation, Angelucci cited violation number 94 from Mariposa County, which was part of the allegations approved by the court.
“A bridge on the subject property is inadequately constructed, cannot hold sufficient load for firefighting vehicles and apparatus, and is otherwise not built in compliance with the law,” was the statement made in violation number 94 by the county.
Countered Angelucci: “The bridge is owned by the state of California with an easement over the property, primarily for the purposes of fires.”
It states that in June 2017, CAL FIRE “found no violations” on the property, including “an inspection of the state-owned bridge over the creek, and issued a notice of defensible space inspection.”
It also points to a YouTube video, made after the receivership was put into effect, of fire trucks going over the bridge during the Detwiler Fire.
“This was yet another false violation just to take control over the property,” wrote Angelucci.
Various other examples were also listed by the lawyer and he concludes by asking the court for either a jury trial or permission to sue the receiver.
NCFM: Interesting current and related Mark Adams receivership story: