To the Reader: Style Apologizes to Joe Morrissey
On April 2, 2008, Style Weekly published a story about Delegate Joe Morrissey. The story, “Bunco Joe?” suggested that Mr. Morrissey had recently told creditors that he had no assets. Additionally, the story stated that Mr. Morrissey had told a commissioner in 2003 and 2007 that he had little or no assets to pay off a judgment creditor.
Our story was inaccurate and we apologize, unreservedly and unconditionally, to Mr. Morrissey. We retract our story and apologize for any embarrassment to Mr. Morrissey. Style takes great pride in being both fair and accurate. This was one occasion where we simply got it wrong.
We have apologized to Mr. Morrissey personally and he has graciously accepted our apology. Further, Mr. Morrissey acknowledges that the reporters received misinformation and he told us that he harbors no ill will. The matter is now closed.
- April 20, 2010
Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey has been telling a veritable checkout line of creditors lately that he has little more than the shirt on his back.
In 2003, Morrissey swore in court he had no assets: no money, no homes, no interests in any of the businesses or corporations he started, and no cars except a modest 1993 Dodge pickup truck. He repeated similar statements under sworn court testimony in June 2007.
In the wake of Morrissey's return to political prominence after winning the seat for the 74th District in the House of Delegates in November, money issues are cropping up again. Morrissey, infamously disbarred for courtroom fisticuffs in the mid-1990s, is at the center of a series of lawsuits and countersuits alleging a complicated shell game.
Meanwhile, Morrissey's seat in the General Assembly could be on the line. If he's prosecuted for and found guilty of lying under oath -- perjury, which is a felony — he would be forced to give up his position.
Reached by phone, Morrissey declined to comment on this story.
It all started with construction contractor Garien Wycoff, the man Morrissey beat and threw into a plate-glass door in 1999 after a dispute at Morrissey's home in Varina. Wycoff won a judgment against Morrissey for $1 million as a result and in June 2007 was still attempting to collect the money from Morrissey, who had recently returned to the States after spending considerable time in Australia.
Morrissey admitted that the Wycoff judgment was why he divested himself of his Varina mansion, explaining to the court that he acted so "it wouldn't be seized … by Mr. [Thomas] Roberts," who was Wycoff's lawyer.
Despite showing the judge pockets lined only with lint, two months earlier, in April, Morrissey managed to scrape together $30,000 of his own money to donate to his campaign for the 74th District. In May, he found another $20,000 to make two more loans to the campaign.
Despite court testimony to the contrary, it also turns out that Morrissey has assets. In his 2006 statement of economic interests with the clerk of the House of Delegates filed April 13, 2007, Morrissey listed an interest in TLC Residential Services Inc., a company providing day services to handicapped adults. The company was valued under $50,000, but it was an asset that Morrissey didn't claim to have an interest in at the Wycoff hearing in June.
Another party that might be interested in knowing about Morrissey's assets is Lehman Bros., an investment firm that owned the title to a house on Midlothian Turnpike that Morrissey bought in May 2001. Morrissey converted the house into an adult daycare business for handicapped clients but didn't disclose the property in the June 2007 court hearing.
In Lehman Bros.' recent court filing, the company lists Morrissey and his former company, JDM of Virginia LLC, as the owners of the property. Meanwhile, Lehman is seeking long-overdue payments on the mortgage and alleges that Morrissey has not been paying property taxes. JDM of Virginia, which Morrissey said in 2003 he'd given to his sister, went out of business in December 2007.
In his statement of economic interest with the State Board of Elections filed Jan. 8, the day before the General Assembly session began, Morrissey's assets had increased to include interests in three companies. They included two listed under the same name — TLC Residential Services Inc. — and a third, a real estate company known as CVRA, valued in the report at more than $550,000.
There's also a property not listed among that parade of homes. The house, a modest rancher at 8402 Franconia Road, is at the intersection of two pending lawsuits and has the distinction of being listed as the official residence Morrissey used to qualify for his run for the 74th District seat.
In a lawsuit filed in January, Morrissey is suing the parents of Berkley Alexander, a convicted sex offender and embezzler previously described by Morrissey as a "trusted employee." Alexander, whom Morrissey lists as president of TLC Residential Services in a deposition, had so gained the trust of Morrissey that he granted power of attorney to him.
In October, Alexander's parents, Janet and Oswald Roberts, filed a lawsuit against Morrissey and their son alleging that the two tricked them into signing awaythe Franconia house so Alexander could use the equity to pay back money he embezzled from Morrissey. Alexander then took the house he extracted from his parents and gave it to a local dentist, Dr. Kenneth Stoner.
Stoner owned the house when Morrissey listed it as his official residence before running for the 74th District seat.
"Originally, I think he was going to transfer it to [Morrissey]," says Sherri Thaxton, an attorney representing Morrissey. "And then I think Joe said transfer [the house] to Stoner, because he owed Stoner money."
Here's where the fun begins: Recall, according to Morrissey's statements in the Wycoff case, that he had no money or assets. So how could Alexander, as Morrissey claims, embezzle $360,000 if this statement were true?
In their lawsuit filed in October, the Robertses allege that Morrissey is hiding his assets from creditors by having Stoner hold the house in his name. Alexander and Stoner are also named as defendants in the Robertses' suit.
In January, Morrissey sued Alexander and the Robertses for conspiring to embezzle money from him and for defamation, alleging that "as a result of his employment and position of trust, defendant Alexander had sole and exclusive [sic] access to the business funds of plaintiff."
Alexander admits to taking some of Morrissey's money, and now Morrissey wants $1.35 million in damages.
But there's more to the story. In September, Alexander was convicted of embezzling money from a close friend of Morrissey's — Myrtle Cogbill, an elderly woman who was once Morrissey's neighbor. S