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Group of judges, lawyers files suit over alleged lien harassment

A group of judges and lawyers has sued a Milwaukee man they allege is harassing them by electronically filing bogus lien statements.

Assistant Attorney General David Rice filed a complaint April 27 in Dane County Circuit Court on behalf of his clients Washington County Judge James Muehlbauer; Racine County Judge Dennis Flynn; Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow; Milwaukee County judges J.D. Watts, Dominic Amato and Jeffrey Conen; and Milwaukee County assistant district attorneys Anthony White, Daniel Gabler, Kristen Reddinger, Tyrone St. Junior and Antonella Aleman.

Rice’s clients claim that between September 2011 and April 2012, Cornelius Robert Hill, doing business as Imperial Securities & Exchange in Genesee Depot, fabricated that he has liens against the plaintiffs’ properties.

According to the complaint, Hill filed UCC financing statements, or standard Form 25 Performance Bonds, with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. He electronically filed them and there’s no gatekeeper at the DFI who monitors the filings for truth or accuracy.

“Our ultimate desire is to have a clean lien system that is not abused,” said George Althoff, communications officer for the department, but added, “DFI has no enforcement authority.”

None of the plaintiffs has done any business with Hill, the complaint states. The alleged false financing statements cloud the titles of the plaintiffs’ property that Hill has claimed as collateral.

The plaintiffs seek a declaration requiring the department to expunge the documents from its computerized UCC statewide lien system. They are not seeking damages.

Rice characterized the DFI as a “cooperative defendant.”

“They’re interested in stopping this kind of abuse, too,” he said. “It’s too easy for people to file these kinds of liens, because it’s all electronic.”

Althoff said the department fully supported the order of the court.

“Ultimately, we trust that the prosecuting attorney and the judge will make the right decision as to whatever the penalty should be,” he said.

Hill could not be found for personal service, Rice said, so they have served him with court orders by publication.

Contact information for Hill was unavailable and he could not be immediately reached for comment.

A telephone scheduling conference with Judge David Flanagan is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Rice said he anticipated Hill would not appear.

At some point, default judgment likely will be entered against Hill, he said.

Rice said Hill was “crazy,” and that his clients were targeted because Hill was unhappy with the outcomes of unrelated cases. For example, last year Amato presided over a civil case where a judgment was entered against Hill in the amount of $747,848.

Another individual who tried filing false liens as harassment was prosecuted criminally, Rice said. He believes Hill is facing charges, as well, and said a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Since commencing the case, Hill has filed another financing statement with DFI against another individual, Rice said.

Attorney Chris Green is representing DFI in the matter.

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