Massachusetts Court of Appeals allows argument via telephone

This article is part of our Pro Se Litigant series, case: Torres v. Torres – Justice for Litigants or C.Y.A. for Courts?


What goes on behind the closed doors of our Courts.

On March 8, 2013 the Massachusetts Court of Appeals made the unprecedented decision (pdf) to allow oral argument of an appeal by telephone. This was in regards to: Appellate case #2012-P-0524, Superior Court docket #BACV2011-00433, Jesse E. Torres III and Jennifer J. Adams v. Sophie J. Torres, Jesse E. Torres IV (aka Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell), Debtmerica, LLC and Donald F. Torres.

The request was made by the Plaintiffs/Appellants on March 11, 2013, available in its entirety here.

Facts in support of the motion: The request for telephone argument referenced the original complaint that contained Federal R.I.C.O. charges against defendant Jesse E. Torres IV, (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell), and Donald Francis Torres. These charges were well supported by the complaint’s attached documents; from the Mexico Federal Attorney’s Office, California D.E.A. and State Police. Specifically supported were the R.I.C.O extortion charges and threats against the lives of the Plaintiffs by Hell’s Angels for which the Mexican equivalent of an arrest warrant was issued.

Additionally, as was arguably proved as the Plaintiffs won their Appeal, they stated that they were wrongfully evicted from the property to which they had written property rights to specifically allowing them to use and live on the property. With reliance of the property rights and a signed contract, they invested thousands of dollars in preserving the properties with reliance on that contract, that they would have their capital returned in a short period of time from an executed mortgage.

Ignoring the contract, Massachusetts District Court Judge Michael C. Creedon evicted the Plaintiffs from their property, and did so at a time when testimony was given that all of their funds were to be do and should be returned to them. This left the Plaintiffs indigent. They had to move thousands of miles to stay with family and friends. They did not have the funds available to return to Massachusetts to argue their appeal.

These were extraordinary conditions. We believe that the Appellate Courts Decision to allow the Motion was the correct one.

Our investigation has shown a that there is drastic difference in the Judges in the Trial Court of Massachusetts and the Judges that sit in the Appellate Court.

The case of Torres v. Torres,  many will find hard to believe. This is a story that will have you wondering just how well you know the family next door and that fact can be stranger than fiction. In addition to focusing on this landmark decision itself, we will also examine in depth why the Court would make such a decision. We verified all of the facts in this article, as we questioned their veracity as well.

See the unbelievable story of two people and their fight not for justice, but for their very survival.

The Defendants, by all accounts, were upstanding citizens, neighbors and business people. And, while we’re certainly not comparing, we did think about how the friends and neighbors of Dennis Rader, (the BTK killer), considered him a friend and “normal” neighbor. When we examined the documents, it left little doubt as to the authenticity of the claims that led to the Court’s landmark decision. This included documents from the police and district attorneys of two countries, from banks and even from the family members themselves.

The following is our theory of the facts believed relied on by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals when allowing the Appellants’ request to hear oral arguments via telephone. These documents offer overwhelming support of the claims made by the Appellants in that request.

James Kimberly Torres, who referred to himself as the “Coronel”, was the son of the Defendant Donald F. Torres. He was also a convicted felon, who served time in the California Penal System, and like many felons, was addicted to weight lifting, claiming to bench press 320 lbs. The complaint filed by the Plaintiffs, laid out in detail, that Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III hired James K. Torres to make modifications and additions to his home in Baja Mexico, as James K. Torres acquired a construction license and told his cousin (Jesse III) he wanted to go “straight”. However, before completing 30% of the job, James K. Torres walked off the job, claiming it had become too hot in Baja to work, and never returned.

Right after Jesse Torres III signed a lucrative contract in the computer industry, James K. Torres began his many attempts to extort funds from Jesse Torres III. These extortion attempts were carried out in two countries and across three states. See the travel receipts for timelines here.

The complaint clearly states that James Torres’ extortion attempts escalated as his drinking and drug intake increased. His demands for money, started at $7000 and increased to a demand for $30,000. Finally, in mid-summer, when Baja is both desolate and isolated, he threatened to kill both Jesse E. Torres III and Jennifer J. Adams. This resulted in the Mexican equivalent of a Warrant for the arrest of James Kimberly Torres, issued by the Mexican Federal Attorneys office, available here.

Extortion?  The receipts for payment and the cancelled checks on record, left us no doubt that James Kimberly Torres was paid in full for every invoice he presented, up to and including the day he walked off the job.  Yet he demanded he be paid additional funds for work never done and that, we believe, meets the legal definition of extortion. Further support is that as required by Mexican law, his every invoice was hand written, and his signature for payment (in full) for every invoice was recorded and signed by him. And there are corresponding canceled checks for every payment made to him. All these documents are available here. There is no doubt in our mind, James Torres was paid in full, even when his invoices contained items such as video games for his daughter.

Death threats and “The Godfather”. The death threats took place when James Torres was staying with his father, Donald F. Torres (a Defendant in the court case), in Baja, Mexico. The threats included naming which members of Hells Angels (his apparent “prison buddies”) would kill the Plaintiffs if they weren’t out of Mexico in 30 days. He continued these threats until finally confronted by Baja Mexico Police, after which he fled Mexico.

The Defendant Donald F. Torres was the Godfather of the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III at his Baptism and liked being referred to as the “Godfather” after watching the movie of the same name.

Prison: James Kimberley Torres is a twice convicted and imprisoned felon. He died from a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. We have little or no doubt that his threats against the Plaintiffs were real, and that it could have been the Plaintiffs at the receiving end of that gun.

The Puppeteer: The complaint goes on to state that these acts were believed to have been orchestrated by the Defendant Donald Francis Torres, as James Torres was never informed of the“lucrative contract”, only Donald F. Torres. Donald F. Torres no longer resides in the United States, and has been residing permanently in Baja Mexico for many years. The Verified Complaint states that Donald F. Torres is believed to be/was the head of the R.I.C.O. Crime Organizationthe subject of the R.I.C.O. charges in the Plaintiffs’ complaint.

Donald F. Torres is alleged to have bragged about being arrested and jailed in Mexico for passing counterfeit Mexican Pesos and other crimes, and bartering his way out of jail. These charges were never denied by any of the Defendants. He is also known to have numerous illegal weapons in his Baja home.

Bad Influence? The Defendant Jesse E. Torres IV, (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) lived with convicted felon, James K. Torres, for a significant period of time after his employment with an investment firm in San Francisco was terminated.  He is listed as the managing partner and founder Defendant Debtmerica, LLC.

The Debtmerica Managing Partner: When we looked at the management pages and the many websites owned or associated with the Debtmerica Managing Partner, Jesse E. Torres IV, (A.K.A.Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell), we found that he graduated in 2000 from the Wharton School of Business.

  1. His first venture was a Commemorative Coin Company called, Coins That Care, LLC, for which the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III put up $11,000 of seed money. This company was started right after the 9/11 attack. They used the picture of the fireman at the Trade Centers without the consent of the Firefighter’s Association or the widows of the firemen. They got sued and had to close their business.
  2. Lendingpoint Mortgage. After the devastation of losing their first business, they started Lending Point Mortgage, specializing in, and becoming very successful at, selling the sub-prime mortgages that almost put the U.S. economy into bankruptcy. That business, by all we could find, is also now closed.
  3. Debtmerica: Jesse E. Torres IV, (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) went off on his own and formed Debtmerica. Debtmerica has by all indications become a very financially successful business for Jesse. It has numerous websites such as SuperMoney which makes them look like they get nothing but great reviews. If you go to the personal website of Jesse Stockwell, you will find that he considers himself an expert of Internet marketing. We tried to write a review of facts which were 100% true, but negative. They were removed from the website in minutes! He made BBB complaints disappear. But our favorite maneuver was when he paid off the New York Attorney General $200,000 to drop charges against Debtmerica.
  4. Offshore Companies: The facts are that Jesse has managed to keep himself one step ahead of his businesses that failed. His history seems to show that he is really good at getting/buying himself out of trouble and even prosecution. Check out his new offshore company, and if you can find a product it sells, please let us know as we could find none.
The Debtmerica Managing Partners II: It appears clear to this author that Lendingpoint did, and Debtmerica does, market and cater to low-income clients. It also is evident by their own documents that they are now making a lot of money, and made a large part of it from Mexican Americans. It is public knowledge that a large segment of that population in California (Debtmerica is based in Santa Ana, California) is of Mexican decent. This raises a question, did Jesse E. Torres IV change his name when Torres was no longer an asset to him? Does it have something to do with his new offshore company? We are keeping an open mind. Watch for our in-depth coverage of the many companies the managing partner of Debtmerica, LLC, Jesse Stockwell has started and discarded in the past. Stay tuned.
The Eviction: The Appellants, in their letter to the Appeals Court, argued that they were evicted unlawfully since Defendant Sophie J. Torres had already permanently transferred the property rights to them regarding the very property from which they were evicted. It is believed that Judge Michael C. Creedon, of the Falmouth District Court, in his decision to evict the Plaintiffs, relied heavily on the decision of Barnstable Superior Court’s Judge Christopher J. Muse. That decision was overturned by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals. See related article available here.

“Notwithstanding, we have been forced to take refuge with various friends and family leading us thousands of miles from Massachusetts, and leaving us without the funds to return to Massachusetts to personally argue before the Appeals Court on the date scheduled hereto”

Where did the money go? While we’re not comparing the Defendant Sophie J. Torres to Ma Barker, see if you think there are some similarities. The Plaintiffs complaint and supporting documents claim that when they came back to Massachusetts, they were going to withdraw their $150,000, which had been left with the late Jesse E. Torres, Jr. for safekeeping. It had been taken by the Defendant Sophie June Torres. The same Sophie Torres who has been accused of taking funds from other family members, as the complaint alleges, at least three other times. More on this later.

As stated in their Verified Complaint, the Plaintiffs spent nearly all of their personal funds to protect the family home of generations from collapsing due to lack of repair. They did this in good faith after the permanent transfer of property rights had been signed over to the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III. Then, after the Plaintiffs worked to turn the family home around from a money-loser to a beautiful rental and money-maker did Sophie Torres conspire with her grandson, Jesse E. Torres IV (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) to breach that contract and take that home for themselves.

Court History: Before going on, we believe our readers need to understand the parties’ history. At first glance, Sophie J. Torres appears to be a sweet old woman, Jesse E. Torres IV (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) seems to be a successful businessman and graduate of Wharton and Donald Francis Torres is just a retired plumber living in Mexico for years. At least that’s how the author envisioned them, until he started digging.

The Age of Innocence: Little old ladies usually conjure up thoughts of the smell of home cooked meals, smiles and pleasant memories. However, bad people in their thirties grow up to be bad people in their nineties.

Sophie’s History: The Plaintiffs’ Verified Complaint goes into great detail on how;

  1. The Defendant Sophie J. Torres used $65,000 from the estate of her late mother-in-law for her own benefit. The funds were held in the Falmouth Bank & Trust and Norman Clarkson, then vice president of the bank, is a witness with personal knowledge of these facts. This was never denied by any of the Defendants or their attorney.
  2. Barnstable Probate Court records show that when Sophie’s sister, Lillian Souza (A.K.A. Lillian Sousa) died, she left no Will. The Verified Complaint clearly states that the wishes of Lillian Souza were that her home was to be left to her niece, “Penny” Bairos, who had lived with her in that home when she was young. It further states that Lillian’s wishes were well known in the family. This is borne out by records in Barnstable Probate Court where 10 – 15 family members filed a lawsuit against Defendant Sophie J. Torres, who had manipulated her other sister, into naming her the executor of the estate. The Defendant Sophie J. Torres appears to have settled the case, and while receiving a larger share than the rest, from the sale of the home (+/-$135,000), did pay the balance to the family members that sued her.
  3. The Plaintiffs arrived back in Massachusetts after living on the West Coast to find that the $150,000 that had been left with Jesse E. Torres III’s late father, Jesse E. Torres Jr. for safe keeping, was missing. In the Verified Complaint and supporting documents, it is claimed that the Defendant, Sophie J. Torres transferred the money to her personal account at Sovereigns Bank. No Defendant has denied this claim.
Validating the Facts: The primary part of the lawsuit specifically upheld by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, stated in part:

“It is undisputed that Jesse has available to him now a viable action in quantum meruit. Because the contract specifies that Jesse’s damages will be the very monies and interest he loaned to his parents…” –  Order available here.

The Verified Complaint stated that Dad, Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III’s father, in 1983, had a life altering accident while trying to survive financial devastation from a partnership with Keven Mann. Allegedly, Mann fled pending criminal charges for writing bad checks on the business (Torres AMC and Jeep), for which he had become a partner together with Jesse E. Torres Jr. These criminal acts had placed not only the business in danger, but also the various commercial properties owned by Dad and the Defendant Sophie J. Torres, as there was no money to pay their mortgages. Mr. Torres spent 2-1/2 months in intensive care, and an additional month in the hospital.

It cannot be questioned that, in the contract signed by Defendant Sophie J. Torres, she agreed to owing her son, Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III, an amount in excess of $1.6 million dollars, for monies loaned to her and her late husband to save their properties, pay off their debts and provide a weekly check for many, many years.

Three Questions: Like any Court case, determining the facts comes down to the credibility of the parties. While the Plaintiffs’ documents clearly are in their favor, other items entered as written testimony should be closely examined for truth. Sometimes the other facts surrounding a case provide the logical conclusion and answers. As in any court case: Follow The Money.

  1. In 2005, Defendant Sophie J. Torres appears to have started work as a school bus assistant. While certainly a job to be proud of, would it pay off a loan in excess of $1.6 million dollars? And what did she do before 2005? Jesse E. Torres IV did not start Debtmerica, LLC until 2006 and Mary C. Torres was working in a minimum wage job. Where was the money to support Sophie coming from?
  2. Why were five heavy weight documents presented to prove that Defendant Sophie J. Torres was capable of entering into a contract?
    1. from her doctor,
    2. from her neighbors (a cop & his wife),
    3. Federal Certificate of HECM Counseling,
    4. an Affidavit by a Massachusetts Notary Public (free act and deed),
    5. and a Certificate of Acknowledgment.
  3. The lawsuit that ensued has gone on since July 21, 2011, survived an appeal and will more likely than not escalate. In fact, when we asked the Plaintiffs, they said that they are considering filing the R.I.C.O. charges in Federal District Court where they are more familiar with them and International Criminal Organizations. The real question here is, who among the Defendants is paying for the legal bills?
Three Conclusions: While we’re pretty sure you have already come up with your own conclusions to the above three questions, here are ours:
  1. The $1.6 million could only have come from the Defendant Sophie J. Torres’ son, the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III.
  2. We believe the “belt and suspender” caution with which the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III treated his mother, Sophie J. Torres, in requiring the five documents, came from the fact that he obviously did not trust her. And in light of her current breach of contract as well as how she treated her other relatives based on past lawsuits, documents and their own testimony, it appears he had good reason not to trust her.
  3. We believe the answer to who is paying the legal bills, is a no-brainer: it is self-proclaimed millionaire, Defendant Jesse E. Torres IV (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) and Debtmerica, LLC. The real question here is why?

Back to the Beginning: Were not going to go back to Mexico and the extortion and death threats here, we’re going to focus on what triggered this lawsuit? It appears obvious that Jesse E. Torres Jr. and Jesse E. Torres III had a great relationship. The trigger of the lawsuit seems to have started after the Death of Jesse E. Torres Jr. The Verified Complaint set forth the following:

  1. Jesse E. Torres, Jr. had stage 5 Alzheimers when he died. Sophie J. Torres sent her husband to their son’s home in Baja Mexico, for a supposed three week visit.
  2. Defendant Sophie J. Torres never disclosed that her husband had Alzheimers, let alone that he was in stage 5, when she sent him to Mexico.
  3. Jesse Jr. was picked up by two officers of Jesse III’s company who accompanied him to Mexico. Neither of them knew or were told of the Alzheimers.
  4. Jesse Jr. stayed 5 months with the Plaintiffs in Mexico where he received over $30,000 in medical care and analysis paid for by the Plaintiffs, during which time Sophie J. Torres never once offered financial aid for his care or requested that her husband be returned home to her.
  5. As this was after the dot com crash, the Plaintiffs were very low on funds. The Defendant Sophie J. Torres had received an offer of approximately $850,000 for a property given to her husband by his maternal uncle.
  6. Jesse III called Defendant Sophie J. Torres and informed her that while he knew that the property was promised to him, to please sell it and just provide enough funds from the sale to put his father in a special care facility located near the Plaintiffs. The plan was to keep him in the facility during the week and then at the home of the Plaintiffs on the weekends. The amount for the special care facility is believed to have been less than $800 per month.
  7. The Defendant Sophie J. Torres refused, and for the first time, said to send him home.

Back in Massachusetts: We asked Jesse III to validate the following. He supplied us with copies of emails verifying the facts: While Jesse Jr. was in Mexico, Jesse III had numerous correspondence with a grand niece who was (paraphrasing) “very upset with Aunt Sophie for abandoning Uncle Jesse”. The correspondence continued even after “Uncle Jesse” arrived back in Massachusetts. (the grand-niece’s husband is a Falmouth Police Officer). The facts contained in the emails and conversations included that “Uncle Jesse” had three times wandered off while in the care of the Defendant Sophie J. Torres.

Dad and the adopted daughter: Phone records indicate numerous calls from the Home of Defendant Sophie J. Torres to her son , Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III, on Tuesday evenings. These calls match up exactly to when the Defendant Sophie J. Torres went to her Tops Diet Club meeting where she is listed as the Treasurer for the past 15+ years. We specifically asked Mr. Torres III what these phone calls were about. Apparently, Mary Carmon Torres (Mary Carmon Thomas) stayed with Jesse E. Torres, Jr. who was suffering from Alzheimers, whenever Defendant Sophie J. Torres went to Tops. Mary told Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III that she was not happy with having to take care of Jesse Jr.; telling Jesse III that he had to either come home or take his father back to Mexico. She repeatedly stated that she couldn’t take it anymore saying that her adopted father would not do what she told him, and would always get mad with her.

The Death of Dad: The local newspaper’s police log states that on January 7, 2008, Jesse E. Torres Jr. fell down the stairs in his home and broke his neck, dying from that injury. It states that Sophie J. Torres was at home with him at the time of the accident. We are requesting a copy of the full Police Report from the Falmouth Police to see if any other parties were in the home at the time of death.

A Coincidence?  Within a couple of weeks after the funeral of Jesse E. Torres Jr., after the Plaintiffs had left and returned to California, Mary Carmon Torres (Mary Carmon Thomas) drove the Defendant Sophie J. Torres to an estate attorney, Kathryn Wilson (Kathryn Foster) of Mackey & Foster, P.A. This law firm was paid by the Defendant Jesse E. Torres IV (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) and/or Debtmerica LLC. The original Will of Jesse and Sophie Torres specifically excluded the Adopted Daughter and left all assets to the sole natural child, Jesse E. Torres III.

Changed Will: Who, Why? Was it solely the Defendant Sophie J. Torres’ idea to write a new Will? What was the adopted daughter, Mary Carmon Torres’ (Mary Thomas) part in changing the Will? While it is impossible to know a person’s reasoning, a copy of an email between Mary Carmon Torres and Janice Grenier of Wilkins, DeYoung & Carter (the Defendants’ law firm), received by the Plaintiffs when Ms. Grenier apparently hit the reply-all button instead of the reply button when she forwarded the email to Mary, says it all:

Mary has called regarding this e-mail. It did not play out this way. Mary is concerned about her mother. Stuff was left behind. Drew took everything.

Can they put a sign up regarding selling the property? 

Please call Mary to discuss. 508-295-9900 x 103.”

$150,000 Missing: The Plaintiffs came back to Massachusetts in large part to retrieve the $150,000 left with Jesse E. Torres Jr. which was placed in an account opened at Cape Cod Bank & Trust by Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III. The Verified Complaint states that the money had been transferred from the Cape Cod Bank & Trust account to a Sovereign Bank account which was opened solely in the name of the Defendant Sophie J. Torres, without the consent of Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres, III. No Defendant ever denied this or stated any reasons for the transfer.

Just Got Lucky: At his parents’ home, while the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III was looking through his father’s personal belongings, reminiscing, he just by luck, discovered a draft of a new Last Will and Testament. In an interview with Jesse E. Torres III, he said that his mother at first denied making the new Will, then claimed it was only a draft, then finally admitted that, against her husband’s wishes, she wanted to leave a large segment of her husband’s estate to her adopted daughter, Mary Carmon Torres (Mary Carmon Thomas), and her twin grandchildren of whom Jesse E. Torres IV (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) is one.

Settlement of Estate: We believe that the Verified Complaint and the two contracts signed by the Defendant Sophie J. Torres clearly substantiates the claim that this was to repay their son the monies he had loaned them during their many times of need.

When additional funds were needed to carry a construction mortgage for the restoration of the family home, Jesse E. Torres IV (A.K.A. Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell) was asked if he would finally repay the $11,000 loaned to him by his father. This money had been loaned to him in order to start a business many years before. He refused, stating that the funds were from his mother, Joanne Torres (A.K.A. Joanne Stockwell, Joanne Stockwell Torres), with whom he had allegedly conspired for the purpose of never returning these funds to his father. See the Impeachment of Shirley R. Lewis related article for more information. Email arguments escalated between the two and finally brought out in the open facts about why his mother took a trip to California in 1977.

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