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Having been found liable for the missing Kimmage Fund by the Massachusetts Superior Court last October, the person responsible for its theft, Aaron Brown, has run out of time to lodge an appeal.
As a result final judgement has been rendered against Brown, the former user of the UCI_Overlord persona. According to Bill Hue, a fund donor who took a class action lawsuit on behalf of the other contributors, Brown owes a sum heading towards $100,000.
Hue explained the recent timeframe to CyclingTips on Tuesday.
“We had the final damage ‘trial’ on January 8, 2015. Aaron did not appear. At the damage ‘trial’ affidavits supporting damages were presented and argument made.
“The Judge provisionally granted judgment and then formally granted Judgment on January 20. That was formally entered February 20, notices were sent February 27 and that started the 30 day appeal period.”
That appeal period expired on Monday, leaving Brown fully liable.
When the court originally filed its findings and Order for Judgment on February 27, the figure owed was set at $69,935 plus pre-judgement interest of $14,715.22 and costs of $275. That represented a total of $84,925.22.
Since then, at a rate of 12% interest, the judgement has increased to a total sum of $85,774.47, and will continue to increase at a rate of $27.92 per day until Brown pays.
“In the US we would docket the judgment and then we have authority to execute upon non-exempt property,” Hue said, explaining what will happen next. “Lots of people try to make themselves judgment-proof by transferring non-exempt property to others, for example, but such transfers are fraudulent and can be undone if they occur.”
Brown’s current whereabouts are unknown but he is last known to have been living in Spain and could still be there.
Asked how the money will be pursued, he said that there was a structure in place.
“Outside the US the ability to collect judgments is set by something called the Hague Convention,” he said.
“That treaty, so to speak, sets forth the rules and regulations dictating the collection of civil judgments obtained in one signatory on person/property found in another.
“I won’t pretend to be optimistic about getting this money back but it was very important to have a Court of Law recognize our loss, the person responsible for our loss and our legal rights pertaining to our loss.
“We have that now and if there is any chance of recovery, I would like to pursue it to the best of my abilities.”
In October Hue stated that lawyers from various countries had contacted him offering to help have the judgement docketed. He has called on people willing to do that in various countries to contact him via his firstname.lastname@example.org address.
He also requests anyone with knowledge of Brown’s current or recent whereabouts to get in contact with him.
Background to the final ruling:
Brown is the co-founder of the Cyclismas website. Together with former business partner Lesli Cohen, he helped set up a fund to assist the journalist Paul Kimmage after former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid initiated legal action against him in 2012.
This fund was strongly supported by people within cycling and slightly over $92,000 was given by donors from around the world.
However in May 2013 it emerged that Brown had taken control of the fund and was refusing to hand it over to either Kimmage or his former Cyclismas business partner, Lesli Cohen. Repeated requests for an accounting to prove the fund still existed were ignored and a class action suit was initiated by Bill Hue, who also works as a Wisconsin judge, in September 2013.
In January 2014 the court ordered the fund frozen. It commanded Brown and his attorney to provide an accounting and statement of whereabouts of the fund by February 25th.
Brown ignored this request and disobeyed court orders by issuing refunds to at least two donors.
This led to him being found in contempt of court on July 9th. The judge handling the case at the time, David Ricciardone, said that the court had concluded, “that there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant violated a clear and unequivocal order to provide information regarding the whereabouts of the funds and not to make disbursements.”
Brown continued to ignore court orders and last October lost the class action lawsuit.
The final step in the judicial process has now been reached, meaning his previous protestations of innocence are legally invalid and Brown is fully liable.
– “The many questions about the Kimmage defence fund” by Shane Stokes for VeloNation (May 4, 2013)
– “Court order in class action case compels Aaron Brown to provide full details of Kimmage defence fund” by Shane Stokes for VeloNation (February 1, 2014)
– “The ongoing saga of the Paul Kimmage defence fund: Hue to try to get arrest warrant for Brown”
– “Aaron Brown found liable for Kimmage Fund in Massachusetts Superior Court”