Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Arson and a Complicated Web of Property Transfers with Known Slumlords at 2519 3rd St N

(A number of hyperlinks will be added in the near future, as well as an addiitonal comment or two.  Until this headline is removed, this is a POST IN PROGRESS.)

A little backstory on "Mr. Slummy," aka Mohamed Amro.  Mr. Slummy purchased two adjacent properties several years ago at 2515 and 2519 3rd Street North.  He began to excavate the entire back yard of 2515, even though he had never pulled the proper permits to do so.  The ensuing confrontation between Amro and myself, and its accounts on Johnny Northside, led to the first time I was called "The Hawthorne Hawkman," a moniker I use to this day even after moving on from that neighborhood.

Anyhow, Mr. Slummy had apparent plans to build a vast, multi-unit structure on one parcel, even though the area was zoned for nothing more than 2-unit buildings.  His construction site was notoriously unsafe and shut down by the city multiple times.  Eventually he walked away from 2515 3rd Street North and focused his energies on 2519.  So much so, in fact that his laser-like intensity must have caused an initial fire there.  Given how little work had actually happened, many northsiders speculated that the fire may have been intentional and that were it not for intrepid neighbors calling 911, the house would have burned down and Amro could collect insurance money.

2519 was saved by a quick emergency call and the brave men and women of the Minneapolis Fire Department, and was still very much a salvageable property.  So much so that...

...when Amro didn't pay his contractors, Siwek's Lumber in northeast Minneapolis placed a mechanic's lien on both 2515 and 2519.  My speculation was correct, that 2515 was not worth pursuing through enforcing the lien, but 2519 was.  Siwek's foreclosed and became the eventual owner.

Not long after that, neighbors approached Urban Homeworks about potentially acquiring the property for rehab; we thought they would be a great fit for that block.  But before any sale to a good neighborhood partner happened, Siwek's had already deeded the property over to Entrust Midwest LLC.

For readers without an encyclopedic knowledge of north Minneapolis slummy property tactics, Entrust Midwest LLC is the company used by none other than Bashir Moghul to buy and sell and (not exactly) manage properties through an IRA or other investment vehicles.  Entrust, by the way, was tangled up in the Trevor Cook ponzi scheme a few years back.

So Bashir Moghul was effectively, if indirectly, the new owner, even though he never properly recorded the sale of this parcel.  In Minnesota, recording the sale is an action that is incumbent on the buyer.  An experienced property owner like Moghul knows this and yet neglected to file the appropriate ownership documents with the county.  Siwek Lumber and Millwork is still listed by Hennepin County as the owner of 2519 3rd Street North.

So yeah, thanks a lot, Siwek.

But like most Minnesota Vikings' seasons, this situation just continues to spiral out of control.  Another party listed as having an ownership interest on the demolition order (we'll get to that in a moment) was contacted, and this person has reason to believe that some kind of ownership deal was struck between Moghul and Amro.  And lightning may not strike twice but arson sure does.  As shown in the photos above, 2519 3rd Street North fell victim to a more successful case of a fire and now has an order to raze the building posted.

And here's the kicker:  the other party stated that he had reason to believe that Amro was the one who collected on the insurance money.  Now I'm not going to come right out and say that Mohammed Amro committed insurance fraud.  I will, however, recount the events in this fashion:

Amro tried to build an improperly sized and improperly zoned structure on one parcel and was stopped in the middle of that project--literally in the middle of it.  He left building materials on the roof and just abandoned it one day.  He put significant resources into that property, and will under legitimate means never get those back, especially since the property is now tax-forfeited to Hennepin County.  He owned the property next door, and after leaving 2515 behind, a fire mysteriously started at 2519 but was extinguished before it could do lasting damage.

Significant rehab work appeared to never restart at 2519 after that fire, and the house was eventually lost to an unpaid mechanic's lien, a rare way of foreclosing, to be sure.  The new owner then sold to another known slumlord in north Minneapolis, who bought using a rare financing mechanism and never recorded the deed.  The new slumlord allegedly entered into some kind of deal with Amro, which if true is also not recorded.  After that, or presumably around the same time, another fire happens and this time is declared as arson by the city.  What are the ODDS?!

And this person has reason to state that Amro is believed to have collected on the insurance money.  What do you think happened here?  What conclusion would a logical person reach in this situation?

Oh, but  here's the burnt, charred icing on top of this arson cake.  An intrepid citizen brought all of this to the attention of various departments at the city of Minneapolis, including the city attorney's office.  And the city's response was that they had fulfilled their obligations by ordering the structure demolished.  Any further legal action would be pursued by either Hennepin County or the Attorney General.  This particular staffer made no mention of alerting these appropriate governmental entities, nor did he instruct anyone on how to do so.

Something smells fishy here...or at least it smells like a blackened, charred fish.


  1. Insurance fraud might be difficult to prove, but undeniably there were transactions occurring that were not recorded, as required by statute and the city's Truth in Sale of Housing Inspection ordinance was circumvented. What are the consequences for this? Being that Bashir is a very well known problem property owner, the city should take advantage of any leverage opportunity to hold him accountable.

  2. Been there, tried that. The City Housing Department couldn't enforce itself out of a paper bag! Taxpayers and Residents always get stuck with the bill and these suckers get issued new permits and rental licenses to victimize the next neighborhood.

  3. How interesting that the City is willing to spend $16,000,000 + on Bike Paths that weave through these homes but won't lift a finger to improve Northside livability and enforce the law. Betsy Hodges where are your priorities?

  4. How exciting to see this old character make a reappearance!


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