Schafer Law Firm
Washington Building, Suite 1302
1019 Pacific Avenue
P.O. Box 1134
Tacoma, Washington 98401-1134
(206) 383-2167 (Fax: 572-7220)
March 8, 1996
Alan D. Macpherson, Attorney
Gordon, Thomas, et al.
2200 First Interstate Plaza
P.O. Box 1157
Tacoma, WA 98401-1157
Re: Estate of Margaret S. Shipley, Deceased; Surfside Inn Condominium #302
For over two months, I have been investigating into the handling of the Charles Hoffman Estate (Pierce County Superior Court No. 89-4-00326-3) by the law firm of Tuell, Anderson, Fisher & Koppe. The most significant asset of that estate was Hoffman's corporation, Hoffman-Stevenson, Inc. ("HSI"), which developed, in about 1978, the Surfside Condominiums and Resort on the tip of the Longbeach Peninsula in Pacific County, Washington.
Attorney (now Superior Court Judge) Grant L. Anderson had represented Hoffman for many years, and upon Hoffman's death, Anderson became executor of Hoffman's Estate as well as President of HSI. My investigation to date has caused me to believe that the attorneys (and particularly Judge Anderson) acted improperly in dealing with the Hoffman Estate. I have forwarded substantial documentation that I have gathered from public and cooperative private sources to several public officials, who are now investigating matters of concern to them.
I have documents showing that Margaret Shipley bought Surfside Condominium #302 from HSI for $41,200 on 9/1/78. At probably the same time and same price, she also acquired Condo #206 jointly with K. Charlene Oberbillig; but she gave her half interest in #206 to Ms. Oberbillig on 5/31/89.
On or about 10/24/91, Anderson entered into a "Letter of Understanding re purchase of additional units" (according to papers in the Hoffman Estate court file) with Trendwest Resorts, Inc., parent organization to Club Esprit, a Calif. non-profit corporation (collectively called "Trendwest"). From 9/91 through 12/91, HSI sold 15 Surfside condos to Trendwest at $40,000 for 1-bedroom condos and $55,000 for 2-bedroom condos. From 12/91 through 2/92, Anderson apparently contacted and arranged for the owners of 9 other condos to sell their units also to Trendwest on those same terms; with one more closing in 10/92.
Dr. Kenneth Pate, PR of the Margaret Shipley Estate, deeded her 2-bedroom Condo #302 to Trendwest on 12/11/91 for $55,000, with the deed having been recorded by Anderson. Ms. Oberbillig deeded her 1-bedroom Condo #206 to Trendwest on 12/12/91 for $40,000, with the deed also having been recorded by Anderson. From information I have received, I believe that Anderson or his law firm or escrow business may have charged the condo sellers a 10% fee for arranging those condo sales to Trendwest. If so, that may have been improper. (Anderson was awarded by Commissioner Johnson, five days before Anderson became a judge supervising Johnson, a $112,000 fee for his services as PR of the Hoffman Estate; but Johnson apparently was not apprised of any other fees that Anderson or his firm may have derived from HSI or any other parties in connection with the Hoffman Estate.)
Please request permission from the party now responsible for the records of the Shipley Estate to share with me, and do share with me so I may forward to the investigating authorities, any papers you may have concerning Mrs. Shipley's ownership of the Surfside condo and the sale of it in 1991 by her estate. Of particular interest are any purchase terms presented by Anderson and any closing papers that show fees charged in the transaction.
I am sending a copy of this letter also to Ms. Oberbillig, and am hereby requesting that she provide to me such documents concerning her Surfside condo, also. If you are able to contact her (she has not returned any of my numerous phone calls), please urge her to cooperate.
I trust that you and your client, and Ms. Oberbillig, share my desire to purge from the legal profession and the judiciary any persons whose actions indicate that they lack personal integrity. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
cc: Ms. K. Charlene OberbilligVery truly yours,
Douglas A. Schafer
Post Script by Doug Schafer on 1/14/00:
Ms. Oberbillig cooperatively contacted me and provided me her "smoking gun" papers, including her letter from lawyer Grant L. Anderson telling her that if she signed his "Listing Agreement" giving him a 10% commission and waiving his and his firm's conflict of interest, he would try to find a buyer for her condo (not telling her that Trendwest had a standing offer).
Lawyer Al Macpherson turned my request over to Gordon Thomas Honeywell lawyer Eileen S. Peterson, who eventually, after my prodding, responded that she would check with Dr. Pate and get back to me -- but she never did (which didn't surprise me at all).