As one of our newest writers pointed out Saturday in a post exposing Buz Mills and his legal problems, today, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jeremy Duda also exposes the past legal problems of the now gubernatorial candidate:
According to court documents, Mills bilked John Mortellite out of several million dollars by arranging the sale of OPM-USA, Inc. without telling Mortellite, then buying out Mortellite’s 10-percent share of the company for much less than it was worth. Mills and his wife, Sonja, owned 90 percent of the communications company.
It all started in 1997 when Mills began talks with American Tower L.P. to sell OPM-USA, which he ultimately sold for $105 million. But he bought out Mortellite for just $1.5 million, according to court documents, without telling him about American Tower’s offer or disclosing OPM’s full value. Mills even told Mortellite to extend a vacation for several weeks to keep him from finding out about the negotiations with American Tower.
When Mortellite returned from vacation, Mills fired him. Later, at an Aug. 1997 board meeting, Mortellite agreed to leave the company and take the buyout based on an incorrect assumption about the company’s value, according to court documents. Mills didn’t tell Mortellite about American Tower’s offer, even when Mortellite’s attorney asked at the board meeting whether OPM was involved in any pending transactions.
Mortellite filed suit in Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit, where a trial court judge ruled that Mills fraudulently induced Mortellite to sign away his shares of OPM.
An expose like this is oftentimes devastating to a major political candidate. During times like these when corruption can mean the end of a political career, Mills’ attempt to storm the 9th floor with the theme of not being a politician has fallen flat on its face.
Don’t be surprised to Mills’ campaign fumble and pull out of the game we call Arizona politics.