By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Local Falls Event Center subsidiary files for bankruptcy

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Comments

Stock

This is JW. Very poor investigative reporting by the News Register. McMinnville deserves better. There are NO funds available for unsecured creditors including the Museum given the over $20 million mortgage leverage, unpaid property taxes and more. The Museum will get nothing and without a significance cash raise the Museum will likely close soon. The only business that cash flows is the Water Park and it ends in September. The News Register failed to report that the Water Park revenue along with other Down companies revenue was sold forward in May 2018 for $1.3 million in cash and these funds are currently unaccounted and of which Down may have taken some personally. The museum director in my opinion is not only incompetent but has activity participated in Downs "criminal" scheme to defraud since day one along with the board and its $10,000 a month attorney Andy Aubertene. On Top of it Rasmussen is personally bleeding the museum with a salary of over $130,000 for this ineptness (Rasmussen is paid $10,000 more a year then the last director). Rasmussen needs to resign and tell the truth along with the rest of the Board if there is going to be any hope for the museum . In Addition, Rasumussen's plan to buy the buildings is not viable given the current situation. The Event Center itself losses money and will close shortly with all the deposit money gone spend by Steve and Coleen Down's greed and "criminal" conduct. The criminal fraud is very massive and still going on under the "gross mismanagement" by Brook Pickering who will shortly be replace and possibly charged with criminal conduct. It is very unfortunate that the News Register has participated in this scheme to defraud because the Museum could have been saved if they had reported the news. There are ways to save the Museum but first the truth needs to be told if there is any chance of going forward.

Jeb Bladine

The comment by "Stock" calls out for replies to provocative charges that (1) the Evergreen Museum executive director and board of directors "actively participated in Downs' 'criminal' scheme to defraud;" and (2) that "the News-Register has participated in this scheme to defraud."

Meanwhile, it's necessary to confirm if the comment -- as indicated in the opening line -- is made by J.W. Millegan. All past comments posted by website member "Stock" purported to come from one of Mr. Millegan's sons. In order to accurately focus a reply, we would appreciate having confirmation from J.W. Millegan that he is the source of this comment by "Stock."

Lulu

Who would willingly confess to writing comments so garbled, paranoid and illiterate? How did you people become so unhinged?

Stock

I want to be clear that the previous comment was made by my father, JW, since he does not have a News Register subscription. This is Drew, his son, and this account is owned by my company, Woodworth Contrarian. My father's grammar isn't always the best and I apologize for that, but I would agree, on the whole, with the statements he made. Allegations of participation in Down's fraud aside, the News Register has at the least been acting negligently around the issue at the museum.

Quite frankly I am sick of the News Register trying to re-write history. Lest people forget, Mr. Bladine called Down's activities "the kind of business empire the others can only dream of" as recently as last October. We tried warning the News Register that Steve Down, The Falls, and his other "companies" might have been a front for fraud little over a year ago in July of '17 after a few of the planes were sold off the books at fire-sale prices, yet were quickly met with attacks against my and my brother's hedge fund as well as my father. Near as we can tell after this the News Register actually began cozying up to Steve Down and his cronies in private meetings before major articles, articles which they never even bothered trying to contact JW about even when he was explicitly referenced. I would note that we later found out from disgruntled Falls investors that Jeb's favorable articles were frequently being mailed and emailed out by Steve Down to reassure his investors that they hadn't lost everything, which if everyone is being honest, his investors have lost everything.

The News Register has been waiting too long. Unless there is immediate intervention at the museum we are going to lose it. Permanently. Poo-pooing the issues as the paper has been doing up until *very* recently doesn't help anyone.

Jeb Bladine

Commendable family loyalty, Drew, but we don't hold people accountable for their words without direct confirmation. Perhaps an email from your father, acknowledging authorship of the first comment on this article, would suffice.

Jeb Bladine

Without confirmation, we only assume that the opening comment above was written by J.W. Millegan.

This article was not an investigative report … just a news story about accessible records of a bankruptcy proceeding. We haven’t seen any documents related to revenue “sold forward,” but if they exist, it will come out in the continuing public record.

Museum leaders can address the broad, libelous claim that they actively participated in a “criminal scheme to defraud.” Saying the News-Register “participated in this scheme to defraud” is the preposterous product of a personal vendetta.

The Millegans claim I called Down companies “the kind of business empire the others can only dream of.” They took that phrase out of context from a newspaper editorial I did not write and knew nothing about prior to its publication. The editorial also said Mr. Down has “suffered financial reverses, been targeted by regulators, been drafted into court battles and stood accused of shady practices.”

Mr. Down and an associate came to N-R offices once for a news interview prior to a major story in October 2017. Mr. Millegan came in twice for interviews prior to that story. We haven’t met with any of those people since.

In July 2017, Mr. Millegan first claimed that Down was involved in fraud, and a Millegan associate said he would return with related documentation. He never returned. Four days later, however, we published a report that Down was under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for “allegations of the sale of unregistered securities to investors and fraudulent actions by one or more of Down’s companies.”

We should acknowledge that falsehoods, once revealed, become lies when repeated.

Jeb Bladine
News-Register

Stock

Jeb,

In reviewing the copy of the editorial from 10-13-17, I do note that the article has no cited author. I suppose I should thank you for pointing that out - we overlooked this.

However, I would point out that documents on the $2 million in Falls and Even Stevens receivables that Down sold personally in May for $1.3 million in cash (also known as factoring debt), are publicly available through the PACER system, and have been for some time. A proper review of the documents would have revealed this and other concerning items. JW has also been posting many of these documents publicly through Facebook, should you care to view the highlight reel.

Secondly, I would point out that the two times JW and I went to your offices were not at your request for interviews. Both were attempts to give you information in the form of a physical file full of concerning public documents JW had accumulated, and both times we were refused (although you did angrily grab a single packet of paper from my hand the second time, which if I remember correctly was another journalist's article on The Falls' issues). My father even tried to offer you the detailed information personally over the phone a third time while attempting to reconcile with you over an earlier public testimony that you took as a personal attack, but you refused again. It is not often that my dad tries to apologize.

Since you apparently had no interest in the ongoing fraud at The Falls, JW stopped contacting you, and you made no attempts to contact him. We only later found out through other sources that you had apparently attempted to actively undermine negative reporting on The Falls by other journalists around the country (some emails you sent to them were shared with JW).

While I appreciate that your paper is finally beginning to report on some of the ongoing fraud, my point is that this would be much less of a mess now if you had not let a personal grievances against my father get in the way of good reporting.

Jeb Bladine

Stock,

We appreciate acknowledgement that N-R editorials are unsigned.

We now see, in PACER documents, information about May 2018 factored receivables financing by Down companies. TFEC submitted that information to the bankruptcy court in a complex motion seeking authorization for use of cash collateral. The court, after receiving no objections, approved the motion, citing various protections for creditors.

We will continue reporting major action points about these complex bankruptcy cases. Feel free to continue drawing attention to deep details of interlocking bankruptcy activities involving the Utah-based Steve Down companies. As acknowledged experts in the intricacies of bankruptcy law, your insights may be of interest.

As to those two 2017 interviews, let’s not rewrite history.

In mid-July, I advised our reporter to talk with your father about Steve Down. The reporter’s resulting interview with him and Paul Peterson ended with Peterson saying he would return with documents showing fraud by Steve Down. He never returned. Four days later, we published a report about the SEC investigation into fraud by Steve Down and The Falls Event Center. With a high-level federal investigation under way, we did not devote limited resources to trying to duplicate that investigation.

Our next contact came in mid-September after TFEC filed its lawsuit against your father and Mr. Peterson. Our reporter immediately left a message seeking comments to include in a soon-to-be-published story. I won’t report details of the disruptive encounter that followed in our front office; I will only acknowledge that we supported our reporter’s request to avoid future contact with your father.

Perhaps it’s a good time to set aside obsessions contributing to libelous statements directed at the museum, the newspaper and various individuals. Free speech is hugely important, but that First Amendment right should be exercised with appropriate accountability for facts.

Jeb Bladine
News-Register

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