Diggin' For Dirt and Mining for Answers With Jim Conley.. ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Diggin' For Dirt and Mining for Answers With Jim Conley..

In an October 10 article looking into candidates Jim Conley (Ward Five) and Kenny Kirby (Ward Six), The Capital wrote:

Conley, a Republican running to represent Ward 5, was sued in federal court in December 2008 for trying to get people to invest in The Three Miners Investment Co., a mining operation based in Ghana. But the business turned out to be little more than a dozen or so laborers digging with sticks and their hands, a busted piece of mining machinery, a tribal chief who wanted back rent and a Chinese company trying to take over the entire mine, records show. 
According to The Capital,  "Conley called Agiropoulos' [the plaintiff/investor] description of the operation 'totally untrue.'  The mine and the company are still active, but so far haven't produced a cent, he said."  Conley told me the suit was dismissed, but has not produced any evidence to me.

An interested reader then sent me Conley's bankruptcy papers (unsolicited) for US Bankruptcy Court, District of Maryland Case 08-21837, Filed 10/11/08 for James Conley and Nichol  Conley. On page 7,
under "Location, Nature and Name of Business", there is a Three Miners Investment Company listed as a diamond mining operation that "started operating at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007, closed November, 2007."

Read that again-- "closed November, 2007" but according to The Capital on October 20, 2009, Conley said "the mine and the company are still active". The bankruptcy papers were signed by Conley and his wife. On October 15, I wrote to Conley:
"Your bankruptcy filing says the Three Miners operation was closed. You were quoted in The Capital as saying it was still in operation. Please explain. Open? Closed? Lawsuit dismissed? Are you willing to provide the balance sheet, P and L and other financial papers about the diamond mine operation?"
Conley did not reply, however I did receive a phone call from his wife Nichol who wanted to meet with me. While Nichol Conley never stated her conversation was to be off the record until well into the conversation, I will keep it private because this is about her husband, and not about her as she seems to think. I said I wanted a reply from him anyhow since he is the candidate. I believe that voters want answers directly from Conley about his apparently failed diamond mining operation in Ghana and he is not forthcoming with them. A few days later, after I pressed the issue, all I got from Conley was an email saying, "corporation and mine open". In my initial conversation with him after reading The Capital, Conley said the unhappy investor was his brother-in-law's friend who "sues everybody."

I believe that Conley's personal financial troubles stemming from the mortgage crisis do not necessarily reflect poorly on him nor do they necessarily mean he is either irresponsible or unethical He was hit with the severe economic downturn as we all were, but he was in the mortgage business and it was likely beyond his control. Bankruptcy is not a crime and his background did not indicate a pattern of mismanagement or repeated irresponsible behavior over a period of years. It did not indicate he was not paying bills or living beyond his means until the mortgage crisis. He may very well have acted responsibly and within the law as he filed for bankruptcy. However, when the information about the diamond operation was brought to light, it changed the situation entirely. Now that he says one thing about it in one place, but court documents say another thing, and he refuses to provide information, it just makes the whole thing seem even more bizarre and questionable.

Conley covers his finances on his web-site www.conleyforward5.com/transparency?a=1&c=1129  but says nothing about the diamond mine. What is interesting is that he talks about the severe economic situation in which he found himself in during 2004 to 2006. If things were that bad, one must ask how and why he could have invested in a diamond mine in Ghana at the end of 2006/beginning of 2007?  If I had been a mortgage broker and were in a similar situation and facing bankruptcy, I would have focused on rebuilding my finances rather than getting myself--and others involved in something as unusual, as speculative, and as unfamiliar and possibly as unstable as a diamond mine in Ghana. Jim Conley's response continues to be welcome here--if we can only get one from him.

LISTEN TO CP Publisher Paul Foer on 1430WNAV at 8:15 every weekday morning.
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