Saturday, December 17, 2022
Florida man found guilty of trying to file fake liens against Manatee County officials (Bradenton Herald)
On November 1, 2011, St. Johns County Commissioners voted 5-0 not to endorse the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore -- and to oppose it -- after hearing from extremists, starting with JOAQUIN MARIANO DeMORETA-FOLCH, who was the first anti-park speaker, saying Commissioners would be guilty of "treason" if they supported the proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
St. Johns County Commission Chairman J. Kenneth Bryan, Vice Chairman Mark Miner, Commissioner Cynthia Stevenson and other Republican Couty Commissioners failed and refused to enforce civility rules, as several of us local environmentalists were verbally attacked, mocked, called "Nazis and Communists" and compared with "Hitler, Stalin and Goebbels," as armed Tea Party members made gun noises and gun gestures. There was no effort to stop the disruptions, and Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor against protecting our nature ad history.
No word on when JOAQUIN MARIANO DeMORETA-FOLCH, goes to trial, but his co-defendant, Christopher G. Hopkins, faces up to 30 years off prison for attempting to file fake property liens against the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court and Manatee Court. Let justice be done.
Florida man found guilty of trying to file fake liens against Manatee County officials
BY RYAN BALLOGG
UPDATED DECEMBER 16, 2022 3:24 AM
A Florida man faces up to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of attempting to file fake property liens against two high-ranking Manatee County officials in 2019, the local state attorney’s office says. A Florida man faces up to 30 years in prison after he was convicted of attempting to file fake property liens against two high-ranking Manatee County officials in 2019.
A jury found Christopher G. Hopkins, 72, guilty of two counts of unlawful filing of false documents or records against real or personal property and two counts of simulating legal process. Both are felony crimes.
On June 13, 2019, Hopkins and another man, Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, visited the records department at the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court and attempted to file two RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) liens, court documents filed by state attorneys say. Florida’s RICO Act is designed to prevent organized crime such as extortion, bribery and money laundering. The liens targeted the personal homes of Clerk of Court Angelina Colonneso and Mitchell Palmer, who served as Manatee County attorney at the time.
In a sworn affidavit, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy William Freel described witnessing DeMoreta-Folch trying to file the documents even after county staff informed him that they did not meet statutory requirements and were therefore fraudulent. “So sue me for fraud,” the affidavit claims that DeMoreta-Folch said.
Hopkins was quiet during the exchange, according to Freel’s affidavit. However, about a month later, Hopkins filed a sworn statement with the Lake County Clerk of Court stating that he was an active participant in the process and working with DeMoreta-Folch as part of the “Statewide Common Law Grand Jury.”
Long-time local Hopkins claimed that he was acting as a jury-investigator for the unofficial organization and referred to DeMoreta-Folch as its administrator. “This entity is not State created or sanctioned as an authoritative investigative agency,” Twelfth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Ed Brodsky’s Office said in a news release. “Due to the quick thinking of the staff at the Manatee County Clerk’s Office, the fraudulent documents were recognized before they were able to be recorded.”
The attorney’s office release did not name DeMoreta-Folch but described him as a co-defendant in the case. Hopkins’ sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 15, 2023. This story was originally published December 15, 2022 8:44 PM.
RYAN BALLOGG 941-745-7024 Ryan Ballogg is a news reporter and features writer at the Bradenton Herald. Since joining the paper in 2018, he has received awards for features, art and environmental writing in the Florida Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism Competition. Ryan is a Florida native and graduated from University of South Florida St. Petersburg.