Mariposa, CA – Nearly 12 years after the first notice of violation was issued to Bison Creek Ranch owner Jerry Cox, Mariposa County Counsel responds to recent conspiracy and collusion allegations, claiming they are purely in retaliation for holding Mr. Cox accountable for years of violations. Over 100 violations were listed in a 2016 notice to Mr. Cox (operating under the name JDC Land Co., LLC) to repair or abate his property. The notice followed several others dating back to 2008. In summary, Mr. Cox advertised and rented out the property for illegal uses, like short term rentals and events. This was prohibited under the Williamson Act, and an agreement that gave Mr. Cox reduced property taxes (up to 75% reduction) in exchange for limiting the use of the property to agricultural-type uses. Mr. Cox took advantage of the lower property taxes while violating the agreement and law. The conditions people stayed in were hazardous and unsanitary, including deteriorated and collapsing structures, and a toilet and shower in the animal pens.

The premise of the alleged conspiracy against Mr. Cox, which came about after the receiver was appointed, stems from the notion that the code enforcement issues and subsequent receivership were a way to “punish” him after separate criminal rape charges were dropped.
“To the contrary, Silver & Wright LLP was retained by the County in October of 2015 to assist with working toward compliance with Mr. Cox, which is prior to the date of the alleged rape. Additionally, the County’s enforcement action was filed before the separate DA criminal case was dropped. The DA dismissed their case on August 14, 2017. However, the County filed its enforcement action on March 13, 2017 – a full five months before the DA dismissed the criminal case. Further, the County filed its motion to seek appointment of a court receiver on June 20, 2017 – again, two months before the criminal case was dismissed. The receiver was appointed on July 17, 2017 – one month before the criminal case was dismissed. Mr. Cox’s entire conspiracy theory is based on the premise that the County only filed the enforcement action because the criminal case ‘didn’t work.’ Obviously, that is false, both in the chronology and factually.” Steven W. Dahlem

County Counsel / Risk Manager, County of Mariposa

Another aspect of the conspiracy allegations is that the County and Silver & Wright LLP conspired with the receiver. This was based on email communications showing alleged bias, when in fact, they were necessary and typical when navigating the receivership process. Additionally, Mr. Cox’s attorneys were afforded the same right to communicate with the receiver and had been part of the initial correspondence. Due to a lack of cooperation and hostility displayed by Mr. Cox and his attorney, it was decided that independent communications would be more effective.

The judge in the receivership case ruled that emails submitted by Mr. Cox’s attorney as proof of the allegations were taken out of context and did not in any way indicate any conspiracy or collusion. The findings state, “The emails between the counsel for the County and the Receiver that JDC presented to the Court were out of context or lacking context. Nothing in the emails between the counsel for the County and the Receiver shocks the conscience. The emails between counsel for the County and the Receiver do not, in any way, show any conspiracy or collusion to mislead the Court or to violate any right of JDC or its counsel. To the contrary, these emails confirm the County’s and the Receiver’s joint goal of obtaining compliance from JDC and to ensure that the subject property met the public health and safety requirements of the law, and to carry out the orders of the Court.”

“As indicated by the documentation, timelines, and the judge’s findings, our objective, from the beginning, was to work toward compliance in addressing the issues with Mr. Cox’s property. Mr. Cox received the tax benefits and made money off of the illegal business, which isn’t fair to the community and taxpayers.” John Fujii

Attorney, Silver & Wright LLP

Receiverships offer an effective remedy for substandard properties where the owner has a history of noncompliance with orders to abate, or there are emergency circumstances that pose an immediate threat to health and safety. It also allows the agency to seek approval for cost recovery from the judge to reimburse communities and their taxpayers. Silver & Wright LLP is not the litigant in the process; they are the attorney for the County.
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