UPDATE: Bruce/Collins alliance affirmed in lawsuit

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UPDATE: 

We just obtained the allegations of which conditions of probation Douglas Bruce violated:

— The defendant shall report any law enforcement contacts to your probation officer immediately. The defendant failed to do so in relation to an El Paso County case on June 2, 2014, which wasn't reported until Oct. 31, 2014.

— The defendant shall comply with any other requirements of the probation office to meeting conditions imposed by the court. Bruce allegedly failed to fill out a financial disclosure form mailed to him on Feb. 19, 2014.

— The defendant shall disclose any current debts or financial obligations and report newly acquired debt or financial obligations within 14 days. He allegedly failed to disclose that he had an obligation to pay his brother from funds from the sale of their mother's home. On Feb. 26, 2015, he reported that he had paid his brother $29,366.93, his brother's share. The withdrawal was made from his bank account on Dec. 8, 2014, which was three days after City Councilor Helen Collins sold his mom's condo to a third party on Dec. 5 after having had it deeded to her by Bruce on Dec. 4. He also failed to notify his probation officer within 14 days of contracting a debt or financial obligation. On Dec. 5, 2014, a judgment was entered that he owed the city $7,947.52.

— The defendant will disclose any current financial contracts or arrangements within 14 days. Bruce allegedly failed to report the Dec. 4 transaction with Collins.

— The defendant will disclose any current access or control of assets, funds or financial information. Bruce allegedly failed to report he had control of funds belonging to Collins. He reported on Feb. 26, 2015, that a Dec. 8, 2014, deposit of $112,519.57 into his bank account was from the sale of his mom's home. The deposit was a check written to Collins by Empire Title, so "therefore the funds in the defendant's account belong to Helen P. Collins and not the defendant as he reported."

— The defendant will furnish federal and state tax returns and any tax court judgments for the past three years and thereafter on a yearly basis. Bruce allegedly failed to provide a copy of his federal and Colorado 2012 and 2013 income tax returns.

The complaint recommends Bruce's term of probation be revoked and that he be granted another term of probation.

Bruce was given a July 13 hearing date on the revocation of probation summons.

————————————ORIGINAL POST 11 A.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2015——————————————————-

Problems are piling up for anti-tax activist and tax evader Douglas Bruce and his close friend City Councilor Helen Collins.

Evidence suggests the two are more than just political allies. According to a lawsuit filed in 4th Judicial District Court, Bruce and Collins have been working on land transactions together across the country, including in North Dakota, South Carolina, Illinois and Oklahoma, besides Collins' 2013 acquisition of two apartment buildings in Kansas City for which tenants say Bruce has been in charge.

One of Helen Collins' buildings in Kansas City is boarded up. - PHOTOS COURTESY KANSAS CITY CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICE
  • Photos courtesy Kansas City code enforcement office
  • One of Helen Collins' buildings in Kansas City is boarded up.
In fact, Bruce and Collins, who survived a recall vote on Tuesday, describe themselves in the lawsuit as "partners." More on that later.

Those dealings might be the reason Bruce was summoned to 2nd Judicial District Court today for a hearing to consider revoking his probation in a 2012 tax evasion case for which he served 104 days of a 180-day sentence. We'll circle back with details later today, but the revocation might be connected to the question of whether all the financial transactions involved in the land deals were reported to the probation office, most recently the transfer of his mother's condo to Collins for $10 and her quick subsequent sale of the property for $140,000 to a third party.

The condo deal gave rise to an ethics complaint filed by the City Attorney's Office, alleging Collins enabled Bruce to dodge paying the city's fees of $7,600 incurred defending the city against Bruce's failed lawsuit, in which the city prevailed last fall.

More recently, Collins came under scrutiny for owning a couple of apartment buildings in Kansas City.

Earlier this week, we talked with a code enforcement officer in Kansas City, who said the property was posted on Monday with a notice that it could not be occupied. Anyone who continued to occupy the buildings would be arrested, a tenant tells the Independent.

Trash is strewn around the buildings.
  • Trash is strewn around the buildings.
"That means it was shut down because of no water," said officer Terrell Mills. "She’s [Collins] been sent notices. She has 30 days to comply, and if not, she’ll receive citations and fines."

Meantime, tenant Heather Dugger was scrambling to gather up her family's belongings and get out on Monday. She said she, her husband and three young children, ages 11, 7 and 3, lived without water for about a month before the notice was posted. 

"The water got shut off about a month ago," Dugger says. "Somehow, the water was still on [at the other building] so we were going next door and filling buckets of water."

She says she paid rent to a property manager who worked for Bruce. "He’s the one who hired the property manager," she says, adding that Bruce was supposed to be paying for trash removal and water service and that she paid rent of $450 a month by money order made out to Douglas Bruce. She quit paying rent about three months ago, she says, because the property manager "quit coming by."
More trash and a sofa on the grounds of Collins' property.
  • More trash and a sofa on the grounds of Collins' property.
Dugger then cut the interview short, because she was trying to load a U-Haul trailer. "There's a lot of cuss words [for Bruce]," she says. "All the rent we paid and the water got shut off, and it’s just crazy, knowing they’re taking money away from people."

Bruce and Collins are tightly aligned in real estate ventures, as outlined in a lawsuit filed in November by them against a Tulsa, Okla.-based national online real estate brokerage and auction company, Williams & Williams Co.

The lawsuit alleges the company charged Bruce and Collins unreasonable title insurance fees on several deals in at least four states: Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Carolina and Illinois.

Williams & Williams is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed based on jurisdictional and contractual issues, but this statement in the lawsuit sheds light on the Bruce-Collins relationship:
Plaintiffs [Bruce and Collins] were partners in this venture. Collins furnished her name and credit card; Bruce furnished the $2,500 deposit and did the bidding. Title was to be in the name of Collins. Bruce also made the demands for refund and has the business records of the entire experience. Both parties shared the distress that defendant chose to lie to them, to steal the deposit, and to force them to sue defendant.
Plastic covers a window in one building.
  • Plastic covers a window in one building.
Bruce and Collins both signed the pleading and gave the same Post Office box number, the same phone number (that of Bruce) and the same email address (belonging to Bruce).

Bruce didn't return a phone call from the Indy seeking comment yesterday. Collins didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment today.

The City Attorney's Office has said issues surrounding Collins' ownership of the Kansas City buildings have no bearing on the ethics complaint here and that the office received information about the code enforcement matters from a neighborhood activist.

"The CAO receives communications from citizens across the country on a variety of topics that may or may not pertain to legal matters relevant to the work of this Office," the city said in a statement on March 21. "We have determined that this letter does not pertain to legal matters within the CAO’s responsibility."

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