Byline, Sun City Anthem, Henderson, NV
For immediate wire service release: “Odd” News Item
"Millionaire" declares he’s an indigent!
TV news reporters, camera crews, along with their satellite units, were making their way up Sun City Anthem Dr. on the way to showcase one of the more modest homes belonging to the person alleged to have cut down 557 trees causing $246,000 in damage in the beautiful retirement community of Sun City Anthem where he lives, located in the quiet suburbs of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Local TV news units were well represented, together with a stringer and cameraman for CNN. Awakening this quiet home for retirees and bringing all this unwanted attention on this pleasant spring day was the breaking news that the alleged tree cutter may be the first millionaire to qualify for indigent status in the state of Nevada, perhaps even in the entire country. For Sun City’s residents, this could mean that their hard earned retirement and tax dollars may have to go towards defending the very person that was caught in the act in the wee hours of the morning miles from his home with a saw in his hand and leaving behind him a trail of newly felled trees.
While residents were aware that free legal services were available from the county’s Office of the Public Defender to help the truly needy, what they did not know was that the apparent threshold for qualifying for such services was so high that most Sun City residents would qualify. Upon learning the tree slasher had qualified, some residents were comforted in the knowledge that the needy were being helped. Others, however, were dismayed while some were outraged at how the system was being manipulated. The thought that we might be footing the bill for the slasher’s legal defense was, to put it mildly, very unsettling. Well, let's get gack to the gathering reporters.
The reporters, anxiously waiting for a glimpse of and an opportunity to interview the alleged preparatory, were joking around and speculating that the resident tree slasher must have an incredible sense of irony over his newfound ability to get Sun City’s taxpayers to pay for his legal defense against charges that he cut down hundreds of the community’s trees.
Not spotting an interview opportunity at the moment, the reporters had to be content with comparing notes they had hurriedly put together in preparation for what they assumed would be their eventual photo op and confrontation with the tree cutter.
The following conversations were overheard. “Do you think it’s true that this guy is really a millionaire?,” the AP reporter was overheard saying to the local TV Channel 8 reporter.
“No, I cant really believe that and, besides, take a look at this place,” he responded.
Another chimed in saying, “I heard this guy owns a three-quarter million dollar home in another retirement community in Arizona. Our TV affiliate from Phoenix is in the process of checking that one out.”
“Has anyone heard about the acreage he may own in Wisconsin?” “No, you’re kidding, right?” “Well, I’m really not that sure, but this source thought he may own some prime acreage virtually on a lake, which is not hard to do in Wisconsin with 15,000 lakes.” “I think he used to live in Chicago and Wisconsin is just a short drive to the north.” This may be a false lead.”
“Someone said he thought this guy had also owned a time share—something else to check out.”
“Say, Hank, do you think we are missing something here?”
“While this guy may not be an actual millionaire, it looks like he may have his hands on a number of properties valued well in excess of a million dollars. When you come down to it, he may be one of Sun City’s largest land holders.”
"And, don't forget, these are real estate holdings only. I'd be very surprised if he did not have some other type of investments as well." "We'll ask him when we have a chance."
“And yet we’re told he is so poor to qualify as an indigent—I don’t get it.”
“Looks like the courts in Las Vegas have some pretty strange rules when it comes down to who is truly needy.”
“You know what, what we really need to do is to get an appointment with the county’s Public Defender and ask some tough questions.” “I think his name is Philip Kohn.” “He should be able to tell us just how someone with such financial resources potentially available can qualify for free legal services.”
“Say, do you think it’s possible the judge in his case is in the dark and clueless as to just how much this guy is potentially worth?”
“I’ll tell you what, while you guys wait here for something to happen, I’m going to take my cameraman down to the Public Defender’s office and see if I can get an interview with that Mr. Kohn.” “I’ll let you know what I find out.” "And if we have some time to spare, I may even drop by the courthouse and see if we can talk with the judge's clerk. "
“OK and good luck.”
Ron Johnson, 29 September 2006