DETROIT - George Cushingberry is President Pro-Tem of a city wending its way through bankruptcy court.
George knows more than a little something about bankruptcy court and it has nothing to do with the city's historic and largest municipal bankruptcy filing. George has represented clients in personal bankruptcies and some of them are very dissatisfied customers. One is suing him for the disastrous results experienced with him at the legal helm.
Thomas Mulholland, of Saginaw, is one of his former clients suing George for $24 million and legal malpractice. Mulholland was left broke and on the hook for some $17 million after the personal bankruptcies he did not even want were filed by George in the wrong bankruptcy court! Hearings in that case are coming up in Lansing over the next couple of weeks. That's a court case and so we will have to wait to see if there is anything true to the charges.
But George has far more direct and personal knowledge of bankruptcy because he filed his own in 2012 and had it dismissed in 2013. Let us repeat here: Yes, he is the President Pro-Tem of the Detroit City Council. He also knows well that all the claims against him prior to that time are now history. But that is not preventing his creditors from coming after him anyway.
In a lawsuit filed last night and amended today, lawyers are looking for damages from George and his wife, money lost in two different home foreclosures. Some of those damages they claim happened AFTER the bankruptcy. Attorneys for the Public Service Credit Union are eyeing George's steady paycheck thanks to his election to Detroit City Council. It is a startling civil action both George and his wife Maria Drew-Cushingberry, who not only defaulted on TWO separate mortgages, are also alleged to have stolen anything that wasn't nailed down inside those foreclosed homes during the proceedings.
The lawsuit claims thousands of dollars worth of home furnishings were destroyed -- a stained glass window, French doors, garage doors. The filings also claim the water heater, furnace, water meter, basement plumbing, kitchen plumbing and a garbage disposal were stolen from the Cherrylawn home they owned. They also say the Marygrove [Detroit] property was missing granite counter tops, kitchen cabinets and other fixtures. The lawsuit said the following about this subject: "Defendants infliction of the damages to the Marygrove property and the Cherrylawn property were done willfully and maliciously ... Defendants inflicted damage upon the Marygrove Property during the redemption period following the foreclosure of the Marygrove mortgage."
Now, you may be asking yourself could it have been scrappers who looted and tore these homes apart. In Detroit, that is always a distinct possibility as scrappers take copper and other valuable commodities wherever they can find them. But the Credit Union's attorneys claim they have much more evidence here. Not one but two different witnesses apparently say they actually saw George and his wife taking things out of their former homes. But as we have learned to expect in these dust-ups George seems to regularly have, the attorneys claim there's another bit of evidence that seals their case. They say the doors were locked after all of the stuff disappeared and there were no signs of any break ins.
These too are troubling charges if true. They are also one more controversial problem the President Pro-Tem must now contend with while trying to represent the taxpaying residents of this bankruptcy city. George of course refused to speak with us when we went to City Council chambers today looking for him.
So, as I have learned to do regularly now, I asked Cushingberry's attorney Todd Russell Perkins whether any of these issues, [including the now infamous, marijuana & alcohol laced traffic stop] would prevent him from doing his job on City Council. Perkins says he knows of nothing that would be a problem. He also says there is no case in the Public Service Credit Union charges.
We will see, as the troubling Cushingberry beat goes on.
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