First off, an "Ahoy, matey!" with a cherry on top to "Nice try," who justifiably mocks my bleary-eyed muffing of the photo selection for Speaking of Abandoned Ships, Save the Queen [Mary] Can't Save Itself. I'm next to positive the correct barnacle collector is shown here. And I disagree with Nice try's advice to "Stick to OC, guys." Two things:
1) Speaking of abandoned cities, OC Weekly adopted Long Beach when we were still in the cradle, as longtime readers know, whether Long Beach likes it or not.
2) The central figure in this story is a Newport Beach developer. Yes, Newport Beach is also a community onto itself, but I am 67.9 percent sure that, at least technically, it is in Orange County.
Jeffrey S. Klein is a controversial Newport Beach developer at that. As the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported in October '07 (sorry for scanning clips generated beyond the county line, Nice try, and sorry to everyone for not being able to link you to it as it's in the P-T's pay-as-you-read archives):
In his personal and professional life, the 57-year-old has amassed $700,000 in tax liens, $2.4 million in legal judgments and more than two dozen lawsuits against him over the last 12 years. Among them: a 1997 elder abuse and fraud case filed in civil court by his older brother, Robert Klein, famous in California for leading the 2004 stem-cell initiative.
Before anyone chastises former P-T reporter Wendy Thomas Russell (who left last year to write a book) for having stuck her nose into the affairs of someone outside her circulation area, know that the point of her story was Long Beach city officials having been unaware of -- and not being concerned by -- Klein's past after leasing him land around the QM for future development, which was to include a marina, an onshore amusement park, a hotel and an office building near the landmark ocean liner.
"There were some things that on paper looked very bad that were easily explained," said Steven Gubner, the city's bankruptcy attorney. "Unfortunately, in today's world, anybody can sue anybody."
Yeah, even YOUR OWN BROTHER! By the way, nice call there, Gubner. Are you sure you don't represent Orange County? We're all about the bad bankruptcy advice.
Meanwhile, the hits against Klein keep coming:
He has also been involved in more than 35 lawsuits - at least 25 of them where he or his companies have been named as plaintiffs. The suits stem from disputes in six counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and Santa Barbara.
Judgments were entered against him in four cases reviewed by the newspaper for a total of $2.4 million. All of them involved alleged breach-of-contract or fraud claims, although none involved specific findings of fraud.
The lawsuit filed by his brother - a claim Klein adamantly denies - accused him of taking some $600,000 from his mother's estate while she deteriorated from Alzheimer's disease in a mobilehome park in Northern California. The case later was settled and both brothers since have reconciled.
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Klein told the P-T he was used to answering questions about his past, adding, "Don't penalize me or Save the Queen ... for what I consider old, dirty laundry."
Dirty laundry? Don't mind if I do: Klein is also president of Fletcher Development Co. and Pacific Capital Development, the latter of which was sued in federal court for alleged trademark infringement and has contributed to local Orange County campaigns, including that of former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Joe Soto.
The financial partner of Fletcher Development Co. and Pacific Capital Development is the Carlyle Group, which you may recall from Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 as being connected to the bin Laden and Bush families. Papa Bush and James Baker III worked for the Group, and bin Laden's family invested in it, which proved to be a source of such embarrassment after the attacks of September 11 the family was forced to liquidate their assets with the firm.
Okay, Carlyle ain't local either. Interesting, though.