The cascading unraveling of the schemes of Eric Mahmoud, reported in three recent stories in the Star Tribune (August 10, 20, and 22, 2012), began in Atlanta in 2005 and again in Minneapolis in 2010. On April 21, 2010, District Court Judge George F. McGunnigle gaveled his Hennepin County District Courtroom into session and assessed Thinh Q.N. Tran and Eric Mahmoud $313,000 in penalties to be paid to Wells Fargo Bank for defaulting and defrauding regarding the Minneapolis property at 2508 Golden Valley Road. The Court File No.: 27-CV-09-24544.
Because of their action, a small African American family-owned business, New Visions Day Care, which paid the Mahmouds $5,000 per month rent, was forced out of business. But the Mahmouds’ actual loan payment was half of that. And yet the property was allowed to go into default. As New Visions rent money was not applied to the mortgage by the Mahmouds, where did the money go?
The New Visions lease agreement signed August 6, 2007, by Eric Mahmoud did not include Mr. Tran, even though Mahmoud told New Visions that Tran owned the property. For nearly five years, New Visions paid nearly half a million dollars in rent, at $5,000 per month, with the lease agreement clearly stating the rent is to increase by $100 per month each year. In the meantime, Mr. Tran was never produced.
Court documents obtained by this column reveal the disturbing fact that as early as 2007, the owners of New Visions Day Care were asking for clarification regarding who really owned the building, and who was Mr. Tran and how could he be contacted. This went on from August 2007 until the Hennepin County Court judgment on April 21, 2010.
The lease included responsibilities beyond the $5,000 per month rent; all utility payments (water, electric, gas, trash removal) as well as additional responsibilities were to be jointly paid. Mr. Tran became the owner. How? When? And was he really? The court documents of the decision of April 21, 2010 raised serious questions about whether Mr. Tran even exists.
As New Visions rent money was not applied to the mortgage by the Mahmouds, where did the money go?
Very troubling is that when New Visions Day Care signed this lease agreement August 6, 2007, they had no idea that Mahmoud had been arrested in the state of Georgia for fraud and was to plead guilty in 2010. Had the tenant been privy to this information, they would have had a better understanding of how things played out in Georgia in 2005.
When the four African American sisters who owned New Visions Day Care asked community leadership for intervention to help deal with the circumstances and the problems being exposed, leadership in our community turned their backs on the four women of New Visions, with non-leading leaders again causing negative consequences due to conduct unbecoming Black leadership.
Recall that many of our “leaders” from 2007-2010 knew of the legendary house flipper Larry Maxwell, but did nothing. He is now in a federal penitentiary.
We live in extremely difficult times for the African American community. Eric and Ella Mahmoud and community so-called “leadership” that supports them are not making it better. Make no mistake, this is not about making money. This is about failing to produce the best possible opportunities for the education of our children.
Under “leasing premises,” the leasing agreement states that the premises would be used solely for education. This in itself raises serious questions about what is “new and understood,” as New Visions Day Care was not a subsidiary of the Seed Academy, being totally independent of it. Perceptions and understandings changed when New Visions was told that the building had been sold to Mr. Tran. But Mr. Tran was never seen by the owners of New Visions, nor could he ever be reached nor did his representative ever respond to New Visions Day Care’s owners.
This columnist doesn’t know if Mr. Tran even exists. We do see troubling patterns and practices that exist. The owners of New Visions Day Care had no idea of a felony arrest in Georgia in 2005 and subsequent guilty plea in 2010 by Eric Mahmoud. Such patterns and practices are causing other African American dreams to shatter.
Many of our leaders now say, in defense of these patterns and practices, that this conduct is acceptable and is the order of the day. In this column, we passionately and emphatically disagree. It is not acceptable nor is it the order of the day for the children of the African American community.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneap olisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.