LONG GONE.................CON MEN, COLLECTION CASES, BARS OF GOLD 
Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 04:33 PM
Posted by Administrator
I can't write my best stories because they involve clients and I don't ever want a client to think that one day they may look here and find that I wrote something about them. But, some clients are long gone....and, so are some lawyers. A few days ago, I phoned my old acquaintance, Bob Smith, to see if he had any stories for the blog. Bob had just returned from the Sobeys market, across the border in Medicine Hat, Alberta. This is the story he told me:

About 5 years ago, an older gentleman came to see me and this is, more or less, what he said:

"I met a man from Belize named Steve Renault (pronounced re no...like the French car... with the accident on the "no"). He told me that in Belize inlets from the ocean formed lagoons and there were many lagoons. He said that he lived near one of these lagoons and in that lagoon there lay a sunken Spanish ship.
Renault said that aboard the sunken ship there were bars of gold worth millions and that he had the rights to take the gold from the ship. But that there was a problem: he didn't have money to salvage the gold."

My client offered to help Mr. Renault...in exchange for some of the those millions. He didn't have much money in cash but he had a couple of credit cards and those credit cards had no limit. So, he lent Renault the cards and Renault ran up bills for plane fare and meals and hotels and everything else he could think of. Renault ran up a bill on one card for about $50,000 and a bill on the second card for about $110,000.

It was unclear to me how meals and hotels (and jewelry and clothing purchases) were related to the raising of the Spanish ship and the recovery of the gold, but my client continued to believe. He believed until the lawsuit came from the credit card company...he hadn't been able to make payment...and then he kept believing.

Renault promised him that the gold was on its way to being turned into cash. Renault said that big money was on its way. So, he continued to believe.

I told him that Renault had to be lying; that nothing he was telling me that Renault had told him made sense; that Renault was probably a made-up name. One day...a few months into the lawsuit...he asked me whether he could bring Renault to meet me at my office. I said "yes" and, a week or so later, I met Renault.

Renault turned out to be a medium size man of medium height with a full head of curly dark hair. His skin was light brown. He looked, I guessed..Belizian. He sat down at my desk across from me. My client sat next to him. Renault told me the story of the gold in the sunken ships in Belize and he told me that the money from the gold was coming...soon... any day...maybe as early as next week.

My client looked at me, then at Renault, then back at me...he looked like he was hoping that I would believe Renault...that I would stop thinking that Renault was conning him. Because if I believe Renault, then it was likely that Renault was telling the truth and that the money really was coming ...his debts would be paid off...and he would have big money to retire on....just like he planned when he lent Renault the credit cards.

In the weeks after I met Renault, my client would call me frequently to say that Renault was going to meet him and bring a large sum of money---wire him money---the check would be there the next Monday...then, the Monday after.

And the lawsuit marched on... Or, perhaps, "march" is the wrong word since "march" implies there was forward movement and, there wasn't.

I asked the court...in the beginning...to dismiss the suit because the credit card company had sued for two of its subsidiaries in one lawsuit. (With few execeptions) two companies can't sue one person in the same suit...so it got dismissed...and then re-filed.

We demanded all of the records of all of the transactions from both credit cards. And I received...after a while...boxes of records. I put the boxes in a corner and never looked at them.

We made offers to settle........and were ignored. We demanded more documents...which eventually arrived. We made complained abuot everything there was to complain about.

After a few years, my client had spent most the money he would have used to settle (had the lawsuit...actually..... marched)...he moved out of Florida to the SouthWest or the NorthWest or to Canada (I'm not saying).

Once he ran out of money, I imagine he filed bankruptcy.

But, there is a silver lining: There is no doubt that Steve Renault is still around.

And, somehow, in a strange way, the world needs people like Renault.
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