Investors Trust Judge Joe Ashmore, But His Trust Doesn't Pay Back

Investors say a former Dallas judge is the face of a multimillion-dollar investment scheme. But investors and investigators are catching on.

Investors Trust Judge Joe Ashmore, But His Trust Doesn't Pay Back
Craig LaRontonda

For three months last year, Muhammet Atayev—California businessman and, by his own account, a former Turkmenistani cabinet minister—limited himself to a small universe in Dallas. He spent his nights in a room at a Best Western motel. In the morning, he slipped into business clothes, gathered his things and walked a one-mile stretch of sidewalk—past Denny's, under Stemmons Freeway and up Oak Lawn Avenue, arriving at a patch of grass behind an Exxon station.

Once there, he stayed from 9 to 5 each day, a sign hanging around his neck. He spent the balance of the steamy late summer on that corner, his humorless face glistening with sweat, though he never seemed to soak through his suits. He ate nothing during the day and drank only water.

That scene is all most people knew about Atayev—a quick glimpse as they drove past on Maple Avenue, him in dark sunglasses under a black umbrella, feet planted, eyes fixed on the office across the street. The object of his fascination was a palace of beige concrete covered in brown mission tiles, arches and columns. Sometimes Atayev talked on the phone; sometimes he sat in a canvas folding chair. He kept regular business hours, never missing a day.

Muhammet Atayev stood outside Joseph Ashmore's law office for three months last fall, hoping to draw attention to Atayev's plight: He says a $250,000 investment was supposed to return $25 million in just three months. Instead, he says, he lost it all.
Patrick Michels
Muhammet Atayev stood outside Joseph Ashmore's law office for three months last fall, hoping to draw attention to Atayev's plight: He says a $250,000 investment was supposed to return $25 million in just three months. Instead, he says, he lost it all.

The sign summed up his purpose simply. Addressed to Mr. Joseph Ashmore, Mr. Jack Wilemon and Mr. Allan Clark, it asked: "Where is our money??? I will be on a hunger strike until I die or get the money."

Months passed and little broke Atayev's routine. One day one of Ashmore's sons emerged from the office and threw Atayev's chair, an attempt to shoo him away. Mostly, though, people just drove right past. On weekends, Atayev treated himself to an air-conditioned respite at NorthPark Center, where he'd sit with a coffee and watch more people pass by.

The money never came. A $250,000 investment—a handshake deal that he claims was supposed to return $25 million in just three months—had left Atayev with nothing but a stack of old emails and a pile of sweaty shirts.

But a strange thing happened as he stood there: People started to stop, sharing with Atayev stories of other can't-miss investments from the last few years that all went back to the men whose names were scrawled on his sign.

In fact, as lawsuits, disciplinary hearings and federal investigations detail, there were dozens more people whose money ended up in bank accounts under Ashmore's name, for investment partnerships with Clark and Wilemon. The investors were offered access to lucrative bond deals, foreign currency leases or international securities trades, and the good name of Joseph Ashmore Jr., a 77-year-old former Dallas County probate judge and prominent local attorney, was often given as evidence that their money would be safe.

Atayev eventually left his perch, but the stories kept piling up—stories of people who should have known better, who blew their retirements believing tall tales of instant riches, who mortgaged their homes because a buddy swore the deal was just golden. How were the deals supposed to earn such outrageous returns, or were they ever meant to? And the ones who've begged, sued and settled until they did get their investments back—whose money were they really getting? Map the mind-bending web of transactions and they all lead back to the same three men, and the same simple question on Atayev's sign.


The deal began with a phone call from Fort Worth to a balcony in Baku.

Atayev and his small group of investors were at their hotel in Azerbaijan, sipping wine in the warm evening breeze and celebrating a new business partnership. The capital city's grandest sights were lit beneath them, from the presidential palace to the beach boardwalk beside the Caspian's crashing waves.

There with Atayev that night was Hellen Mitakys, a retiree from California's state tax board. She'd met Atayev years before, during a goodwill trip for officials from former Soviet states. She was one of the few people Atayev knew in Sacramento when he moved from Turkmenistan in 2005.

Jim Wyatt was also there. He was Mitakys' neighbor and, at one point anyway, a high-flying international businessman who wrote books on turning quick profits in real estate. When Mitakys met Wyatt, he lived in a huge home and drove a Mercedes. But he'd lost big in a farming deal in Thailand, had divorced his wife and had part of one leg amputated because of diabetes. The setbacks had forced him to take refuge in Mitakys' guesthouse.

That night in Baku though, at last, things were looking up. Wyatt still had his stellar business contacts in Dallas, and at the time—summer of 2007—the markets had never looked so sweet. After years watching other people getting rich, they finally had an asset to put in play.

Atayev had a friend in Kyrgyzstan with a mountainside gold mine who'd just agreed to let them place the mine into a lucrative asset management program with Wyatt's friends in Dallas. As Atayev and Mitakys recall, Wyatt said the mine would be worth $100 million on the global market. Wyatt seemed so sure, they say, and acted every bit the global dealmaker. (Messages left for Wyatt went unreturned.)

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31 comments
lawyer_fraud
lawyer_fraud

Joseph Ashmore is a crook plain and simple. He uses his "retired probate judge" to draw people in. I don't know how he's managed to get away with this as long as he has. It doesn't do any good to file a greivance with the State Bar. We tired that...then you see speaking engagements advertised on the Dallas State Bar website for upcoming events featuring Lori Ashmore Peters....no wonder. He is involved in a lot of lawsuits with people going after him. He just declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, 2013. It's a matter of public record. We were one of the lucky ones who discovered his misdealing before he took us for everything we own. The battle will go on, that is all I have to say. The sad thing is that he is doing the same thing to so many others as we speak and they have no idea what is happening.

tycampaign
tycampaign

Robert Trevor's Comment:  "Fortunately the Daughter, Lori Ashmore Peters was defeated in the last election."   AMEN TO THAT!    Public Service and the Ashmore's NOT A MATCH!  

tycampaign
tycampaign

Honorable????  ASHMORE?????  Really????   

Big_diz
Big_diz

To all ofthe you who havethe been scammed by the "honorable" joe Ashmore, Please call to this organization, they will be able to help you. Www.stopguardianabuse.org contact them.They've helped others in cases like this.

Spirit Rock
Spirit Rock

I think our family con man is connected to these guys in some sort of underground con network.

Spirit Rock
Spirit Rock

I think our family con man is connected to these guys in some kind of underground con network.

Spirit Rock
Spirit Rock

Joe Ashmore was referred to my brother by a con artist that is trying to steal my dad's estate. This article came out and they decided not to use him. However, the con man referred him to a different lawyer that took the case. Now my name and reputation is being dragged through the mud by this con man. My family thinks that I am conspiring with my uncle to steal from the estate. Meanwhile the trust my dad set up is being whittled away by lawyers.

I can't believe they have so much faith in the guy. Half my family has invested money in this his OTC penny stock that's based out of Nevada. He wrote up a trust for my dad that had him listed as the Settlor and my dad as the beneficiary. I think he was planning on firing the trustee after my dad died and investing the estate in his shell company. But my uncle took my dad to a real lawyer and had a new will written up shortly before he died. The con man is mad about it and he's spreading rumors about us throughout the family.

Florida Probate code
Florida Probate code

Hello..I was not aware of the such case and I ma glad I visited here and come to know about it. I have gathered a huge knowledge being here. It will help me in future as I am a law student.

Mastersdegree1
Mastersdegree1

TAKE THE TIME TO LOOK AT THE PUBLIC FILE UNDER PROBATE COURT 3, FILE #PR 10-89-3 and find out the truth about Joe Ashmore and what he does for his clients........Or doesn't do......You decide........I am/was a Client of Joe Ashmore and I must say I have not been pleased with his performance on my case. My husband was Major General Hugh G. Robinson, Sr. and I have yet to recieve $1.00 from my husbands' estate. Although everyone would like to claim it's because of the amt. that the IRS say is due, the truth of the matter is that the widow should receive a "Wodow's Allowance" or a "Family Allowance" before anyone is paid anything. That did'nt happen. One reason this may not happen is if your attorney fails to file the proper-paperwork, but neglects to request a court date. MAYBE JUDGE AHMORE JUST FORGOT. Well, I won't blame everything on him....or DO I? Let me tell you....After my family and I choose Judge Ashmore to handle my husbands case....we have won quiet a bit......We have won the right to have two cars repo (Can you do this while in Probate and there is money to pay for these cars? One of the companies that repo the car was Resource One) We have won the right to be illegally foreclosed on. We have won the right to have some pictures that were stamped "Property of The White House" dated back to 1964-1968 taken from our home, and two original pieces of artwork that belonged to my hsband and I. We have won the right to have Penny Mac attempt to foreclose on the home that my 14-year old daughter and I live in. They never served me a noticed, but just did a posting at the courthouse.....Is that legal? Really? Get this......The court appointed third party administrator was allowed to write himself a check in the amount of $118,000.00 fr his allowance a couple of months ago. Hey Joe, since you are such a giver to the Catholic Church, why was it OK with you that my 14-year old daughter be put put of her Catholic School when there were hundreds of thousands of dollars laying in our CarMax Stock? Where was your dedication to Catholis then Joe? It's important that I tell everyone that there is a lighting company that my Husband played a big part in and the CEO of the company has yet to acknowledge any part of my husbnds dedication to this company. Oh yea....Joe knew about this but choose to have a private meeting with this guy and his attorney in his office and requested that I stay out of the meeting and sit in his (Joes) lobby. Glad I had a recorder on my that day.........Just so everyone knows.....Although you may request in writting to remove an attorney that you are paying, while you are in Probate....You can't. The Judge has to agree to remove this Attorney. So how did this Administrator get paid and I have yet to receive $1.00? Help me understand this Joe?

DIANABOL
DIANABOL

the face implies his involvement was no secret.

Robert_trevor
Robert_trevor

Fortunately the Daughter, Lori Ashmore Peters was defeated in the last election.

threefour
threefour

What kind of greedy dumbass believes you can legally make $25 million in three months with an initial investment of $250,000?Survey says...A corrupt government official from a formerly corrupt Soviet Union Republic, heck he just thought it was business as usual communist style.

Malachite141
Malachite141

and why is this family still operating? thank god they arent my attorneys but i sure the heck wouldnt let them get this far and what judge has not shut this down???? got friends in city halls???

Seriously?
Seriously?

How could anyone be so, dare I say it, stupid to believe such nonsense? The amount stated would be earned for an investment should have raised red flags all over the place. How many times does one have to hear "if it sounds too good to be true, then it is' before they learn to run like a jackrabbit when asked to participate in this type of foolishness? Gives new meaning to the words "there is a sucker born every minute" doesn't it? If you are dumb enough to invest in this type of crap, then you deserve to have lost your money.

Gee a call to Morgan Keegan would probably have been in order at the very least. I just can't believe anyone fell for this stuff.......not excusing the others behavior....but really.

2build411
2build411

Joe Ashmore has been a crook for years. Claiming to be a great probate attorney and then stealing all the money through all types of legal and nonlegal schemes. He has tied up a large 10 figure estate of a friend of mine for 40 years. Making it so convoluted that no one can receive funds but him, of course. He works through the probate judges as the estates Power of Attorney to get access to the funds to "pay bills" and manage the funds for big returns to himself of course.He always gets paid. The heirs don't. He preys on young and ignorant. Find me someone that is happy with what happened from his lawyering and I will show you someone who only got a small amount of the inheritance they deserved.. I friend of mine says he has seen Joe Ashmore at drug dealer parties, living it up. I have found that if you are associated with known criminals you are the some. Just think about it. He is as crooked as a snake and should be thrown into jail until he becomes straight. His associate lawyers also. (his children) They know and participate with him. His daughter tried unsuccessfully to run for office as probate judge. She wanted to replace an aging and retiring judge. Joe had been using that judge in his scams for years. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. Disbar this scum and clean up Texas probate courts. they are all full of theft.

Mastersdegree1
Mastersdegree1

Regarding the Major General Hugh G. Robinson Estate, Judge Ashmore has been handling my probate case for 15 months now. Although he has not figured out a way to distribute my widow's allowance, he has figured out how to get himself and his co-worker Nathan Grifin (the 3rd Party Administrator suggested to me by Joe) paid from my estate. The Department of Justice has filed suit on the case. I would love to talk with anyone else who has concerns about this man. Let's use the power of social media for good. Paula Robinson (Widow) 972-880-5911

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

"For $250,000, he said, they could buy a share that would return them $25 million in just a few months."

A 10,000% ROI in a few months. Surely even in Turkmenistan there's a saying that goes something like, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Montemalone
Montemalone

Are you sure these guys aren't Nigerian royalty?

Guest
Guest

He can not be trusted. He stole millions of dollars from my grandmonther and my great grandmother. Then had the nerve to show up at their funerals to see if he could get a little more.

Spirit Rock
Spirit Rock

My uncle is being dragged through the mud by a con man who referred Joe Ashmore when he convinced my brother to sue the trustee. The con man set up a trust for my dad where he was the Settler and my dad was the beneficiary but my uncle took my dad to a real lawyer before he died. Now he is being sued because the con man has my entire family convinced that my uncle took my dad to a lawyer against his will. He was just trying to protect us from the con man's trust. I still haven't seen a dime from my dad's will. It is all tied up and getting whittled away by lawyers. The funny thing is my dad left money to St. Thomas Aquinas church. They haven't been paid yet. Wonder if Joe would like that.

sickofprudes
sickofprudes

wish I had done my homework and this was published a month before. You would think a former judge that tells you before being hired that you are right and he can get things done would be honest. Just finding out the firm or at least Joe and another employee do NOT have their paying clients best interest at heart. Over 20 k in less than a year and nothing has been the will is not being adhered to and they want their money for doing nothing. Also, beware if a partner is handling a case or supposed to be you Will be billed for Joes advise too . Double dipping. Will be complaining to the Bar assosc..Will be willing to speak with Mastersdegree1 if willing

Son
Son

This is truly ridiculous and unethical that this issue has been tied up for so long and that in the long run run the family looses out and the lawyer's win.

Paula Raymond-Robinson
Paula Raymond-Robinson

Nothing like numbers pulling together when it comes to changing the laws. We should talk. Sounds like we are two of a kind.

Bigboy
Bigboy

I agree with it all and I have heard so many bad things about this guy. The DA does nothing. Even that one before the current. They knew and did nothing but turn a blind eye. You thing the 3rd world in corrupt.

Crooks......
Crooks......

If they smell money, you can bet the estate gets billed and billed and they get paid and paid.....just not the heirs. I have seen it with most of them.

Crooks.....
Crooks.....

Make a complaint to the State Bar.......please.

Crooks.......
Crooks.......

His daughter is not any better. She billed the He** out of an estate for very minimum work. Jerks all of them.

 
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