It appears a settlement may be in the works in the controversial case involving a receivership in Mariposa County.
The case, involving local resident and now District 3 supervisor candidate Jerry Cox, has been high-profile for months and involves hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by a court-appointed receiver for everything from property security to buying cat food.
The matter was scheduled for a hearing on Monday of this week but it lasted less than three minutes and the case was continued.
The receiver, Mark Adams, appeared by phone at the hearing and said the “parties have been involved in negotiations the last few weeks.”
What those negotiations amount to and what the result may be remain in question.
And there are many questions which remain unresolved, though Adams indicated on Monday the parties might be able to find common ground.
“We don’t need that much time to get to a negotiated resolution,” said Adams.
Though Cox was in the courtroom, neither of his lawyers participated. Adams told Mariposa County Superior Court Judge Dana Walton he told Cox’s attorneys there would be “nothing of substance” discussed during the hearing. That seems to indicate the parties are talking behind the scenes to reach a settlement.
There was a brief discussion about rescheduling the hearing. It was originally proposed to be May 7, but the judge said that date would not work for the court. The court date options of April 30 or May 14 were given by Walton. Adams, along with Mariposa County Counsel Steve Dahlem, said they would work with all of the attorneys involved to find a common date.
The Cox case has been controversial from the start. The court has ruled that Cox is in violation of more than 100 county building codes, however, those documents are sealed so the nature of the allegations remains in question.
Cox operated the Bison Creek Ranch on CYA Road north of the airport in Mariposa County.
To complicate matters, Cox was also charged with 14 felonies, including rape, during the same time period as the receivership case. He could have spent life in prison for those charges.
But almost two years after the charges were filed, Mariposa County District Attorney Thomas Cooke dropped all charges, something that is rare in a case involving so many serious felonies.
That has prompted Cox to question the integrity of county officials and has also gathered him a large local following who claim he has been singled out by local authorities.
It may have also led to Cox’s foray into politics where he is now in a three-person race for the county supervisor slot in District 3.
Because little was said during Monday’s hearing, it remains unclear what type of settlement might be reached — and who will pay for thousands of dollars already spent by Adams but not yet paid.
A document filed in the superior court for January expenses indicates at least 15 people were involved in working for the California Receivership Group, the Santa Monica-based company handling the case for the state of California.
In addition, Adams said in February, he received a delinquent tax bill from the Mariposa County Tax Collector in the amount of $1,594.01.
“Due to lack of funds, we are unable to pay the property taxes at this time,” Adams wrote in the court filing.
And that’s not all they haven’t paid.
The majority of the expenses incurred by the receivership group have remained unpaid, according to the court document.
No documents have been made available at this time for expenses in February and March.
Here are some of the items listed on the January invoices:
• Motion for instruction hearing prep, court hearing, round trip travel – $3,920 (at $350 per hour.)
• Read email re security invoice. Mark-up and upload PDA invoice; update both security and invoice s/s with payment and verification info – $20 (at $100 per hour).
• t/c EG re: purchasing cat food – $20 (at $200 an hour).
• Process Ship for Less invoice #63834 and charge property for related delivery fees – $23 (at $115 an hour).
• Print out Am Ex receipts. Enter Am Ex charge for all payments. Create invoice for advance from receiver. Enter travel expense details in receivership books – $46 (at $115 an hour).
• Review security invoice; email EW, CB, ET, LL re: same – $30 (at $150 per hour).
• Property inspection and allocated travel time – $915 (at $150 per hour).
• Review and revise draft reply to defendant’s opposition – $210 (at $150 per hour).
• Draft, research reply to Opp. – $660 (at $330 per hour).
Those are just a small sample of the 15 pages listed as unpaid expenses for the month of January by the receivership group.
Also at issue in the case is the major disagreement between the receiver and Cox’s lawyers about what it would actually take to make repairs on the property.
Adams has claimed it will take hundreds of thousands of dollars to either make repairs or tear down all of the structures on the property. However, he has not produced the cost estimates for the court.
Cox’s attorneys hired an expert from Fresno who claimed the costs could be far less, though he was going to meet with officials from the county’s building department. It is not known if that meeting has taken place.
Those dollar amounts also do not include the outside counsel hired by Mariposa County for representation in the case. Attorney Mark Silver has been representing the state through the county since the inception of the receivership matter.
In addition, it remains unclear who would be on the hook for the hundreds of thousands of dollars should a settlement be reached between the parties and that settlement included a clause that Cox was not liable for the full amount. Should that happen, it’s possible the county taxpayers would have to foot the bill.
But all of that is still up in the air as the parties continue to talk behind the scenes in the matter.
The case has also gotten national attention as the National Coalition for Men has demanded documents from the county, claiming lawyers brought the rape case, which was dismissed, into the receivership case. They have also demanded prosecution of the woman who claimed she was assaulted by Cox but the case was then dismissed.