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.

As if to prove what a big deal he and his friends were, they say, Wyatt suddenly came through with another sweet deal to propose. He was on the phone with a man named Jack Wilemon, one of his contacts in Texas, who was organizing investors for a bond issue—another $100 million operation—that was going to pay big. For $250,000, he said, they could buy a share that would return them $25 million in just a few months. It had to happen "right away," Atayev recalls. The group agreed to buy in.

On the way home, they made plans for their share of the money. Atayev would start a cattle ranch back in Turkmenistan. His two friends, one of them a dentist, drew up plans for a program to bring low-cost dental care to remote Central Asian villages. Mitakys didn't invest, but she stayed in the loop because she knew Wyatt and could translate the financial terms into Russian for the others.

They let Wyatt make the arrangements—they were his contacts, after all. He later outlined those plans in a series of emails to Mitakys. The bond would be issued in the name of Regency Worldwide Development, Wyatt wrote, "which is owned and operated by Jack Wilemon and Allan Clark in Dallas."

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.

In fact, Wyatt wrote, Regency Worldwide had already advanced $250,000 on their behalf to a broker at Morgan Keegan, a Memphis-based investment house. This way, Wyatt wrote, the group would be in line for "the next bond issue" and could get under way even earlier than they'd expected.

It got better. Wyatt told the group that they would get not only $25 million in two to three months, but additional monthly interest payments of $675,000 for 60 months. And they'd be able to reinvest their $25 million windfall with Regency Worldwide for extra monthly income over the next five years.

Today, Mitakys admits it was a stupid idea. Usually, she says, "I'm the first one that thinks things need to be in writing. Wyatt kept saying these are gentlemen's agreements—people in that level of business do things with a handshake."

They were assured by Wyatt that they were sending the money somewhere secure—an attorney trust account, the separate bank account lawyers are required to open for holding their clients' money. "When it's going into a trust, especially an attorney's trust, you think it's safe," Mitakys says. And in this case, the man who was to receive the money was no ordinary lawyer: Joseph E. Ashmore Jr., former Dallas County probate judge and a well-connected international businessman in his own right.

"We were presented with Mr. Ashmore's fantastic résumé," Mitakys recalls. "Top of the line."


Ashmore grew up in the fabric of his home city, with close ties to his Lebanese heritage. His father, Joseph Sr., opened Sunshine Laundry and Dry Cleaners, still open today on Maple Avenue, and was a founding member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Born in 1933, Joe Jr. graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and Southern Methodist University, spent four years in the U.S. Air Force and returned to SMU for his law degree in the early '60s. He went on to a successful career in the banking industry, climbing to vice president at the Texas Bank and Trust Co.

In 1975, he began his tenure as judge in Dallas County Probate Court No. 3. He spent 11 years on the bench, handling contested wills and other delicate rulings. He earned glowing reviews—97 percent approval in one Dallas Bar Association poll—and became an expert on mental illness policy. He answered questions about wills in The Dallas Morning News' "Line One" advice column.

When he left the bench, Ashmore started a private law practice, handling probate claims and other issues and growing the firm to include a handful of lawyers, including his son Gary Ashmore and daughter Lori Ashmore Peters. The firm's office is just a few short blocks down Maple from his father's laundry business.

Ashmore also acquired real estate and stayed active in the community, raising money for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and serving on the board of the Texas College of Probate Judges. In each of Pauline Medrano's successful City Council elections, she's trusted Ashmore to oversee her campaign coffers.

A handful of probate lawyers declined to talk about Ashmore, but receptionists at their firms jumped at the chance to gush what a good friend he is. A good ol' boy who can hold his own in Dallas' finest circles, Ashmore speaks some Spanish and Arabic, and his English carries a deep Texas drawl. He's known to conduct business in his suite at Lone Star Park, where he likes to watch the horses.

So it's understandable how the invocation of Ashmore's name could lend credibility to the too-good-to-be-true deals to which his name has so often been attached.

In the instructions Wilemon sent Mitakys for wiring the money, two days after Wyatt outlined the deal for her, Ashmore's name was absent, as was Regency Worldwide. Instead, Wilemon wrote that the money should be split two ways, $75,000 to an account for "Financial Risk Specialists Inc." at JPMorgan Chase Bank on Preston Road and $175,000 to Regions Bank, in a trust account for an Alabama law firm called Pruitt & Pruitt.

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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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