“Due to logistical obstacles related to the Petitioner’s incarceration and need for time to analyze Mr. Crandall’s 24 point affidavit, the Petitioner request [sic] this Court to grant his request for an extension of time to respond to the government’s response.”
April 4, 2017
Citing “logistical obstacles” related to his incarceration in a federal prison camp, former Smart Schools Management, Inc. grifter Steven Ingersoll has asked for more time to respond to the government's March 20, 2017 opposition to his motion to vacate his federal tax fraud conviction.
On January 24, 2017, Ingersoll filed a “pro se” (“on one’s own behalf”) motion to set aside his sentence, seeking “post-conviction relief” based on what he asserted was attorney Martin Crandall’s alleged “ineffective assistance of counsel”.
Ingersoll's request for an extension was mailed from his new Duluth, Minnesota residence on April 4 (the original deadline) and added to his case record late last night.
Why is the Crandall affidavit so perplexing?
You be the judge — here it is!
AFFIDAVIT OF MARTIN E. CRANDALL
A little backstory: on September 21, 2015, Crandall’s Detroit-based law firm, Clark Hill, filed a breach of contract complaint in Bay County's 18th Circuit Court seeking payment of an outstanding $360,371.81 legal fee balance for representing Steven Ingersoll.
Just days before a scheduled civil trial was set to begin on October 19, 2016, Ingersoll and Clark Hill reached a confidential, out-of-court settlement.
(A complete analysis of Ingersoll's January 24, 2017 petition is available at this link.)
Martin E. Crandall of Clark Hill PLC, being first duly sworn, deposes and states as follows:
1. I have reviewed Defendant Steven Ingersoll's Petition pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 recently filed in this matter.
2. I represented Mr. Ingersoll along with my associate Todd Skowronski
and co-counsel Jan Geht.
3. I chose Mr. Skowronski to work on this case with me because of
many other matters, including a recently complicated, lengthy and successful trial
in the U. S. District Court in Detroit which he had assisted me on. Further
knowing his talent, skill, excellent work ethic, and attention to detail from many
prior cases, I asked him to participate in this case with me, and he agreed. [NOTE: One of the more colorful allegations made during Ingersoll's legal fee dispute with Clark Hill appeared in affidavits filed in February 2016 by Steven and Deborah Ingersoll and a housekeeper formerly employed by the Ingersoll-owned bed and breakfast, Bay City's Webster House: that Skowronski habitually drank to excess, leaving “numerous empty liquor bottles beneath his bed each and every morning”. However, in his February 19, 2016 affidavit, Ingersoll stated he “did not raise concerns about the liquor housekeeper’s observation with Mr. Crandall as I did not want to introduce distractions in the midst of trial.”]
4. Contrary to Mr. Ingersoll's several allegations, I never threatened him
that I would withdraw from the case, nor did I ever contemplate withdrawal; rather,
at the end of 2014 after an accumulation of an account receivable (AR) exceeding
$86,000, and being told by Mr. Ingersoll that he could not pay that AR in 2014, but
could when loans were approved in 2015, I offered him a bridge loan of $86,000 to
satisfy my Firm before year end.
Subsequently, I was not involved in further discussions with Ingersoll and his wife as to security going forward and modification of the Retainer Agreement — those matters were handled by our Firm's real estate lawyers whom I put Mr. Ingersoll in contact with.
5. My representation of Ingersoll began approximately October 17, 2013, when I met with Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Geht in Grand Rapids, Michigan to discuss the matter and the possible replacement of other counsel whom he had working for him and with him at that time. [NOTE: Ingersoll initially hired a criminal defense attorney from a Grand Rapids-based law firm, Myers Nelson Dillon & Shierk, on July 27, 2012.]
6. Early in the representation, it was determined that the defense team needed a forensic accountant, and I introduced Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Geht to Mr. David Hammel on October 26, 2013, in a telephone conference call.
7. The Indictment was unsealed in early April 2014.
8. Mr. Ingersoll and his wife met Mr. Skowronski and I at my office on
or about April 9, 2014 for most of the day.
9. Mr. Skowronski and I had adjacent offices in our Detroit office and
we worked on this matter, meeting frequently from the date of the Indictment
through the end of the year, and ultimately through the end of the trial.
10. Mr. Hammel worked with us throughout that time period working on
specific projects as designated by Ingersoll and Geht.
11. There was a clear division of labor and responsibility for trial preparation with Mr. Geht focusing on tax issues related to counts 2, 6, and 7. [NOTE: Ingersoll was found guilty on all three tax-related counts.]
Mr. Geht took primary responsibility for Ingersoll's defense on those tax charges issues because of his particular tax and accounting expertise, his prior Department of Justice Tax Division employment, and the fact that he is a Certified Public Accountant. Mr. Skowronski and I focused on defending Ingersoll against the mail and wire fraud charges in counts 1, 3, 4 and 5. [NOTE: Ingersoll was exonerated on three of the four counts, with the remaining count dropped prior to closing arguments.]
12. It was determined early on that I would do the opening statement, the closing argument; and witnesses were divided between Mr. Geht and I with the tax
and accounting issues focused on by Mr. Geht.
13. During the trial of this matter, much of the defense team resided in
one of Mr. Ingersoll's buildings in Bay City — The Webster House. While there,
group discussions covered the defenses to the tax counts which I understood, but
left development of the defense to Mr. Geht, which Mr. Ingersoll understood and
14. In addition to reviewing Mr. Ingersoll's 2255 pleading, I have also
reviewed Ms. Hackett's testimony, my opening statement and closing argument in
this matter in preparation for this affidavit.
15. When not in court, Mr. Skowronski and I met every day that we were
in Bay City, typically early, and late.
16. Often times after a court appearance, I would give Mr. Skowronski a
project to assist me in preparation for the next day's examination, and he would
provide work product to me regularly and timely as requested, often late at night. I
did not witness anything untoward about his work ethic, his work habits or his
demeanor. He was the same reliable lawyer I have known and worked with for
17. We collaborated everyday throughout the term of the trial, including
days when we were not in court, and every weekend. We coordinated private
investigation by a retired FBI agent, and we met on a few occasions with Chemical
Bank's potential witnesses. Further, I would meet early mornings with witnesses
at the Federal Building, which witnesses arrived early because they were in
18. On the day before the defense closing, there was some discussion
about Mr. Ingersoll testifying or not, but it was made clear to him that it was his
decision. Ingersoll made the decision not to testify.
19. I did not advocate that Mr. Ingersoll not testify. I merely opined on
some of the dangers inherent to that process.
20. I surely did not predict winning the case with or without Mr.
21. I spent most of the evening before closing argument alone in my room
reviewing trial notes, memoranda of my own and from Mr. Skowronski, and asked
Mr. Geht to give me a summary of necessary points regarding closing on the tax
counts, which he did. Very early the next morning, I reviewed the closing
argument with Mr. Ingersoll. Mr. Ingersoll appeared satisfied.
22. I believe I covered all of Mr. Geht's points in my closing argument
except some that were handed to me just before my walking to the podium for
23. I have reviewed the testimony of Margaret Hackett and believe the
cross-examination to have been effective for its purpose.
24. Mr. Hammel was certainly ready, willing and able to testify both in
the trial of this matter and in the post-trial proceedings when he was subpoenaed to
testify, but it was the Defendant's and/or Mr. Geht's decision, not my decision, not
to call Mr. Hammel as a witness. Mr. Hammel was well prepared having reviewed
extensive documentation provided by Ingersoll, and after several meetings with
Ingersoll and his team of lawyers in both Bay City and at my office in Detroit.