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Would you pay R30,000 for this view?

There's been this moratorium on any and all developments along the Wild Coast for the past 13 years - apart from Incopho and their American cohort's proposed Resorts on huge chunks of land appropriated - under false, or entirely misleading pretexts - from the Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay, and Mdumbi communities. A brief glance at their websites reveals Pure Africa LLC (www.pureafrica.org) and their so called "Partner company" Earth Conservancy (www.theearthconservancy.org) for what they truly are: my emphases placed on Resorts and Partner is to underscore the over imaginative products of an opportunistic NY tax lawyer. The same tax lawyer who is in fact president and founder of both the so called Partner companies. There was a third Partner company by the name of African Conservancy (which had an equally imaginative and factually devoid website - and the same President, funnily enough) which was mentioned on the billboard (photo attached) - but which no longer appears to exist. Presumably this has something to do with a legitimate US based charity organization of the same name objecting to its use.

It seems unlikely in the extreme that giving any significant ownership to a locally fronted operation for 2 US registered Non Profit Organizations which in turn are controlled by a Limited Liability Company - all of which share the same founder and President: a New York tax lawyer by the name of Brian Dinning; and no other obviously credible partners or believable track record - could be in any way in the best interests of the local communities. On their websites, for example, they say that in return (for their land) the local communities will benefit by receiving "jobs, skills training, microenterprise experience, healthcare and education. Finally the community receives a significant share of the profit."

Earth Conservancy NPO owns the land and Pure Africa LLC manages the issue of profits. Very simple and very open to abuse.

www.pureafrica.org
www.theearthconservancy.org
www.mdumbi.com

Say there's no profit from the Resorts, then so what? our outside wunderkinds still own 70% or so of priceless tracts of Wild Coast soil for which they payed the owners next to nothing. The twisted irony is that in a short time the community will itself be able to manage their own resources so much better than by giving away their only asset - land - to outside interests in exchange for jobs. Judge by the ludicrous fabrications on their websites.

It even appears, from a cursory glance through the R.O.D., that there are no limitations on their divesting themselves of the assets. What their real intentions are is the million dollar question, as the websites are factually deranged to a ludicrous extent.

It should be well noted by now that the actual local villagers at Hole in the Wall - who comprise of the people who own the land in question (not the faction who support the woman "headman", who are almost exclusively from Inzulwini about 4km inland) have been totally against the development from the time that the developers placed their signboard on a hill overlooking the Hole sometime over a year ago without asking the rightful owner's permission.

Further, the whole proposal has been done under the pretence of the benefit to the local community, but the Incopho / Kwa Tshezi community is an aggregated 4 districts extending from Hole in the Wall to Mdumbi - and of the people that have benefited from the employment created so far (guarding the fenced tract of land at the Hole, mainly) - not one person is actually from the village from whom the land has been expropriated. In fact, Nowinas' people, in police blue security uniforms and caps, lounge around near the signboard on the hill. On questioning, they all come from Nowinas, and allegedly have no other duties than to guard the expropriated and fenced-off land. No, they will not guard or protect the rest of the area.

It is rumored that the owners have been offered R30,000 per hut that is located on the site of the expropriated land at the Hole. Over and above that, a rental of R7,000 per month had been unilaterally agreed by the principal players through the Kwa-Tshezi Development trust for these 15 or so acres of prime real estate (50,000 acres if pureafrica.org's website is to be believed) - but that rental goes to the Kwa Tshezi Development Trust as a whole, and very little benefit - apart from jobs someday, perhaps, and platitudes about healthcare and education - to the people who once legally owned the land. Platitudes they are, as the schools in the area already have beautiful Open Source, NetDay (www.netday.org.za) sponsored computer classrooms and internet connections - and there are adequate clinics in the area, and a full hospital no more than a few kilometers away.

Why should the people who were born here have to give up their legacy for promises and platitudes? when within a generation or less they can develop the capacity (or hire it for that matter) - through education and eco-tourism - to manage their own land far better than outside ventures. The feeling of the community is that they are being treated like ignorant Xabas . . .

It is strangely ironic that not so long ago and just 20km down South from the Hole the local community (who had many years ago been forced to give up their land for the Dwesa / Cwebe nature reserves) made landmark claims when they took repossession of their land rights; yet here the government and bureaucratic processes are depriving people of theirs.

Comments

I came across this blog when I Googled “Brian Dinning”. I did that since I have heard “through the e-grape vine” that there is opposition to the social enterprises he is helping with in Africa.

I think actions say more than words. I saw the actions of Mr. Dinning during my 4-week volunteer visit to the Wild Coast in Africa. As a Human Resources professional for a top North American Bank I volunteers and paid for the costs to visit and interview the people of this regoin in order to understand their employment and training needs. I did this due to the vision that Mr. Dinning shared about establishing community owned social enterprises to provide employment in the Wild Coast.

I believe social enterprises are the answer to provide sustained upliftment to people that have little hope. I personal used Mr. Dinning’s social enterprise model to help three groups of inner city youth, in North America, to set up their own computer refurbishing and carpentry businesses. These enterprises were so successful that they were able to send over 40 computers to schools in Africa with help from Mr. Dinning for shipment, along with his donations of medial equipment, clothes, desks, and children’s bicycles.

Social Enterprises are recent developments to partner for-profit and non-profit enterprises for social betterment. These are not easy to establish since most banks and investors do not see it as viable business model. Also, most foundations don’t want to help since the enterprises will generate a profit. So, visionaries, let Mr. Dinning are in a tough spot to fund the “seed” investment. Through his passion to see needy people enabled to help themselves Mr. Dinning has shared his vision to attract socially sensitive investors and volunteers.

To establish an enterprise to help tribal communities develop ecotourism is not an easy task, a host of for-profit and non-profit organizations are needed just keep everything legal and keep the ownership of the land in the hands of the communities. Also, dealing with developing communities can be time consuming, beyond most development timelines, in order to accommodate community and environmental concerns.

I’m one of the dozens off volunteers that have helped, not only with ecotourism, but helping with real needs such as food, building reconstruction, water, and support for orphanages. My memory of seeing Mr. Dinning cooking and serving food for more than 200 community people is very different than the image of a NY Lawyer. At this event a community leader thanked Mr. Dinning saying “My heart is uplifted by not only with help for employment, but, with the concerns for our Spirits”.

The ecotourism started to generate funds two months ago and will soon relate to sustainable employment. I think the world needs more layers like Mr. Dinning.

I have known of Mr. Dinning's work for years. In 1992 to 1994, he assisted in researching and drafting a legal textbook on how to partner NGOs and business to achieve non-profit goals and purposes. He has brought this knowledge on sustainable development to the Wild Coast of South Africa.

The "community transformation" model is a model whereby a job creation project such as a small guest lodge is established in partnership between business and the local community. Jobs are created, skills are transferred, education and a future hope are also created for the community. NGOs such as churches, missions groups, orphan care programs are then invited to partner with the community as well to further provide benefits. Finally, micro enterprise projects are promoted so that many guest house patron needs such as arts and crafts can be established promoting further economic growth.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Professor at Columbia University and head of EarthWatch Institute, stated in his recent book that these types of small community projects are the start to economic freedom in the communities in Africa. Thus, I applaud the efforts of Brian Dinning to help the rural community in Africa.

Finally, until anyone has logged in the hundreds and perhaps even thousands of hours that Mr. Dinning has put in to help the rural communities on the Wild Coast, they should not criticize. If you want to make your voice or actions heard, then go to the Wild Coast and do some missions work with the local community for yourself.

Yes. I happen to live and work on the Wild Coast. Hole in the Wall, in fact. I was born and grew up in the the area, so it is no small coincidence that I run www.wildcoast.com as a free tourism resource for all, and also as an environmental protest forum.

I am presently involved in setting up a WiFi network between 5 schools' computer labs in the Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall areas, and hooking them up to the internet. The intention is to then create a non-profit "Mentor Ring" ((c) reserved) volunteer programme to teach internet, computer literacy and extra-mural activities. We are also expanding the network to the Zithulelele Hospital and surrounding clinics to setup a VoIP telephone network for "tele-medicine". I don't get paid for this work, but have 20 years experience in the IT industry and consider utilizing my expertise an obligation for the benefit and upliftment of my people and my homeland.

We are backed by Coza Cares (Uniforum), NetDay, Rotary International, and CSIR. In addition, I work for a DEAT funded SRPP (Social Responsibilty Policy & Projects) project which employs about 70 people on a day to day basis doing mussel rehabilitation (www.wildcoast.com/mrp), community gardens, and a nursery; and which supports hundreds of families in its outreach.

I can name many people: like my boss, Dr. Gugu Calvo-Ugarteburu, and Ant Brooks and Mark Elkins who initiated these programmes and who are personally responsible for staggering social reformation initiatives.

I have many reasons for criticizing the Dinning brothers' modus operandi in our area. Their intentions may well be good, but I believe that people who propound such fraudulent and misleading statements on their public podiums (www.hole in the wall.info and www. umdumbi. com) are not to be trusted.

Want a list?

Transforming Communities on the Wild Coast

I am a university professor and I head an international mentoring organization which works in South Africa as well as in various countries around the world. I have been to the Wild Coast several times now beginning in 2003. In August 2007, I was part of a missions team that assisted in renovating a church at Hole in the Wall and in providing food and clothing to the local people. I worked side by side with Brian Dinning in rebuilding this church. I also watched as he personally cooked food and served over 200 local people after a church service we all attended wherein we dedicated the new church.

I also help Mr. Dinning in providing mentoring and coaching materials for the local community in South Africa along with Unlimited Group from Toronto, Canada.

I am pleased to be working alongside Mr. Dinning and totally support his efforts on the Wild Coast.

Very interesting. Thank you for the feedback. Now for some facts:

Firstly, the land at Hole in the Wall was given away to "Pure Africa" LLC by an over-zealous ward councilor and an unpopular headwoman (who was subsequently murdered) without the people who actually own and live on the land ever being consulted.

Secondly, the LLC (with associated NPOs) was given 70% ownership of the land, while the remaining 30% was allocated to the greater community - in the form of a trust which was setup for the Tshezi district/tribe - so it is difficult in the extreme to see how the actual owners will benefit; when the last I heard, they had been offered R30,000 per hut located on the site. Yet those same sites are advertised for sale at http://www.holeinthe wall.info for amounts of R690,000 and up.

Thirdly, why is it necessary to give 70% ownership of these poor people's lands to offshore interests with no proven track record of social development - whereas the land actually belongs to them and they have the capacity and desire to develop this prime land on their own (and their children's) account? The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) has hundreds of millions of rands available from EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) to allocate to tourism development, and they could as easily fund the development of tourism ventures to be directly owned by the local inhabitants. In my conversations with Steven Dinning and Bossie Bossman it was apparent that they didn't have funds themselves and were looking for soft loans from DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) for the development/s.

Fourthly, why is it that they are fraudulently advertising that the allocated piece of land is adjacent to a 2000 hectare game reserve which doesn't exist? . . . and if it did exist would be impinging on the rights of every other resident, pastoralist, and visitor? That's not the only liberty they have taken with their marketing fabrications either: 1) they claim that the tenement is "riverfront", whereas it does not even come within view of the river? 2) is "oceanfront" with "private beaches", whereas it is several hundred meters from the closest beach? and actually most of the sites look onto the rear of existing cottages, 3) they claim that there is an air-strip at nearby Coffee Bay whereas the short strip at Maphuzi golf course has been out of action for over 25 years and is too short to land anything but a STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) aircraft or microlight in any event? 4) they say on their website that the Umtata (Mthatha) airport is 40 minutes away, whereas it is an hour an a half drive? 5) they claim the Mpako river is navigable whereas it is only half a kilometer long? 6) they are selling sub-leases on land whereas the ROD (Record Of Decision) actually lapsed in August 2006, as they had failed to start development on the land? 7) the community and the owners of the land are still totally against the usurpation of their rights? 8) I mentioned the fact that 3 NPO companies and 1 controlling LLC (which structure could conceivably be way open to abuse) have received this land and options, yet the people themselves are unable to develop their own land because it falls under "Tribal Trust" land - and now State appropriation.

There are many more issues at stake, and I don't really have the capacity or time to address them all. My bottom-line opinion is that 70% of private individual's heritage has been given away without open consultation, to offshore interests; and regardless of the good intentions of those interests, the actual owners rights have been abused to a formidable extent. This is a direct result of the land tenure issues facing the residents of the former Transkei homeland, and relates directly to the fact that this area has never been settled or integrated into the rest of South Africa... because of many historical intersections - from the Zulu Mfecane to British colonialism. (Read "The House of Phalo" by Prof. Jeff Peires for a small insight into this travesty.)

Fortunately the local people objected and have tried to retain the rights to their own land.... and more fortunately still there are many people who can attest to the fact that the terms of the ROD expired without any development having taken place.

I certainly don't wish to denigrate your good intentions or efforts, but I have to question your perceptions. Also, as a permanent resident at Hole in the Wall, I am very curious as to the exact location of the renovated church, as I have never seen it. Of course I don't disbelieve you, but some people use Coffee Bay, Maphuzi and Mdumbi interchangeably with Hole in the Wall, as it is the foremost icon of the Wild Coast. Could you provide us with some spatial co-ordinates (Google-Earth) for the church?

There are many other anomalies I have noted on the website/s, and I will happily indulge in a point by point debunking if you are interested.

For your interest, I have consulted with the affected families and they are eager to set up a 100% locally owned backpacker venture on the affected parcel of land.

A simple breakeven analysis comparing the estimated R48,600,000 to be realised by the sale of sub-leases of their land, for which they get next to nothing (R30,000 per hut, or R14,580,000 which would be the communities' 30% thereof (that is, the ward councilor's "trust")) will show that a 100% locally owned initiative will surpass that amount/benefit in a few years, and create very much more revenue and local benefits for the eternal future. Such a venture will not pose the Environmental Impact threat of 50 inappropriate "Cape Cod" style dwellings, and will bring more revenue to the local community on a day-to-day basis, while really significantly enhancing the Tourism market potential along the Wild Coast. (In perpetuity.)

I'm sorry, but the proposals by the Dinning brothers are just not appropriate or feasible for the area.

Interesting read:
http://www.insidebiz.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=6E1D4E1DFAE84C08B7F5FB89A676...

Also interesting to note that pureafrica.org and theearthconservancy.org websites are MIA.

From the article:

Locals drawn to Africa investments
Issue Date: Week of August 18 2008, Posted On: 8/15/2008 9:19:00 AM
MICHAEL SCHWARTZ - Staff Writer

The lure of African diamond mines has drawn local businesspeople and investors thousands of miles and has dragged some into lawsuits alleging various levels of investment fraud.

Two companies with offices in Norfolk at first glance appear to have only one thing in common. South African diamond country captivated both WexTrust Capital, whose principals were arrested last week on charges of fraud, and a company called Pure Africa LLC, the head of which is now facing his fourth fraud-related lawsuit filed by ticked-off investors.

On the surface that’s where the similarities end. But an examination of court documents, state corporation filings, press releases, online videos and Web sites reveals connections between the two companies start sticking out like – well – diamonds in the rough.

The names

There are at least a dozen companies with “Pure Africa” in their name that at one time or another existed as corporations registered in Virginia, Delaware and elsewhere, all with ties to either WexTrust or a local man named Brian Dinning who runs Pure Africa LLC out of a Norfolk office in the Monticello Arcade. Both WexTrust and Dinning are involved in African diamond mine investments.

Five of seven of those Pure Africa corporations registered in Virginia, listed WexTrust’s Norfolk office in Dominion Tower as their principal address.

The other two, including Pure Africa LLC, have ties to Dinning. Dinning is now facing his fourth lawsuit filed by angry investors, which was filed last week in Norfolk Circuit Court. Many of the suits claim investors were attracted to the promise of legitimate diamond operations. All the suits against Dinning, with the exception of the most recent, have been settled out of court.

Some of the entities have obvious links to diamonds such as Pure Africa Mining Ltd. Others don’t. There’s Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund, Pure Africa Development, Pure Africa International, Pure Africa Investments, and the list goes on.

Two that stand out have strikingly similar names: Pure Africa Holdings LLC and Pure Africa Holdings Ltd.

Pure Africa Holdings LLC was created in July of 2006 and state records show Dinning’s million dollar home in Suffolk as its principal address.

Pure Africa Holdings Ltd., according to a WexTrust press release from July 2007, was WexTrust’s holding company for its South African operations, which dabbled in various lines of business including “minerals.”

These two Norfolk-based entities with basically identical names and apparently similar lines of business caught the eye of Joel Nied, an attorney who handles various aspects of corporate law with Williams Mullen in Norfolk.

Nied said it is not typical for two companies with such similarities to co-exist without some sort of dispute over the name.

“In general if you had two companies that had confusingly similar names and they were competitors,” one would typically file a cease-and-desist order, Nied said.

There are federal laws, for example, the Lanham Act, Nied said, that define the legal boundaries of such a practice based on the fact that it could inhibit the business operations of either entity.

The connections

Dinning, in addition to running countless for- and non-profit entities, is an attorney who has practiced in Virginia in various capacities. One of those was serving as WexTrust’s in-house legal counsel as recently as 2004, about the time that WexTrust created the first of its Pure Africa corporations.

About two years later, Dinning created a number of Pure Africa entities, including Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund LLC, a Delaware corporation that, according to the Pure Africa Web site, has ties to entities known as Honingklip Diamond Mine I and II Ltd.

A video on various Internet sites shows Brian Dinning giving a tour of diamond facilities in South Africa including Honingklip Diamond Mine I. Information on one of the Web sites indicates that the mine is managed by Michael Van Der Merwe and that the original investment group of PASDF is made up various members, one of which is WexTrust Capital.

The July 2007 WexTrust press release announced the creation of the board of directors for Pure Africa Holdings Ltd. including the appointment of Michael van der Merwe as CEO of Pure Africa Holdings.Van der Merwe is one of four owners of Pure Africa Investments Ltd., a “partner in WexTrust Capital’s mining operations,” according to the release.

The similarities

Both WexTrust and Dinning’s entities dabbled in activities related to African diamond mines funded by private investors. And both sides in many cases targeted specific groups of investors, based on both profession and religion.

Court documents from the fraud case brought last week in federal court against WexTrust, its various entities, its CEO, and its former COO Joseph Shereshevsky of Norfolk, allege that by design, many of those targeted as investors by WexTrust were Orthodox Jews.

Shereshevsky had “a background in the diamond commodity business and was to take the lead in soliciting investors through his wide contacts in the Orthodox Jewish community and to manage the offerings and investments relating to the purchase of real estate and specific assets, including diamond mining interests in Africa,” a court filing in the case said.

Dinning, on the other hand, who received his law degree from Regent University, appears to have had an affinity toward targeting investors affiliated with evangelical Christianity.

A lawsuit filed against Dinning by a Regent professor in September 2005 in Virginia Beach Circuit Court alleged that one particular group of individuals that Dinning targeted for investments through various group sales pitches were the faculty at Regent University.

Dinning also has many medical doctors who have invested in his businesses. Three of the four lawsuits brought against him were filed by doctors.

Dinning no longer works for WexTrust. And court documents don’t reveal if Dinning and WexTrust worked together to set up the African operations.

Numerous phone and e-mail messages from Inside Business to Dinning remained unanswered at press time but on Aug. 15, he replied in an e-mail saying he “was hired by WexTrust Capital as corporate counsel in May 2004. [I] resigned shortly thereafter in December 2004. [I] have not maintained contact with WexTrust Capital or any other person associated with WexTrust Capital since [my] resignation.”

Dinning’s e-mail continued, “Pure Africa LLC was created as a consulting company in July 2006. Neither Pure Africa LLC nor any project that Pure Africa LLC works with in South Africa is associated with, affiliated with or connected to WexTrust Capital or any person or affiliate of WexTrust Capital.”

By Aug. 18 at the latest, several videos showing Dinning and investors touring diamond mines and facilites in Africa were removed from the Internet, including the one that named van der Merwe and WexTrust investors in the Honingklip diamond projects.

Issue Date: Week of September 15 2008, Posted On: 9/12/2008 11:21:00 AM

Fifth lawsuit targets local lawyer

MARY FLACHSENHAAR - Assistant Editor

A lawsuit filed in Norfolk Circuit Court Sept. 3 alleges that Brian Dinning made fraudulent claims about his for-profit and nonprofit ventures in South Africa, using funds collected for those businesses instead for his personal use and that of his wife Sommer Dinning. This is the fifth suit since 2005 brought against Brian Dinning or the couple, who live in The Riverfront at Harbour View section of Suffolk.

Brian Dinning, an attorney who has a law degree from Regent University and a master’s in tax law from Georgetown University, is the founder of a complex network of businesses and charities that he says were intended to promote sustainable development, conservation and health care projects in South Africa. Dinning’s business office is in downtown Norfolk.

The latest suit, filed by Danny and Debra Murrill of Harrisburg, Pa., lists four counts: fraudulent inducement and breach of contract against Brian and civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment against Brian and Sommer.

The suit says that the Murrills were given Brian Dinning’s name by a church acquaintance as they sought information about overseas investments that engage in charitable works while earning a profit for investors.

On May 12 of this year the Murrills introduced themselves to Dinning by phone, according to the suit, and on the next day Dinning proposed an investment opportunity at the "Hole in the Wall" development along South Africa’s Wild Coast. He said, according to the suit, he was selling lots in the development for $50,000 each, that his father had purchased two and that three remained for sale.

Dinning predicted, according to the suit, that Hole in the Wall investors would see a sizable return in less than six months.

After many phone and e-mail communications, during which Dinning also assured the Murrills he could help them with their goal of establishing a missionary project that would qualify as a charity for tax purposes, the Murrills on Aug. 7 wired $220,000 to Dinning to purchase three lots and also to fund their "Children of Hope" ministry, the suit says.

They requested Dinning send $22,000 to the charity and also reimburse the Murrills for airline tickets to Africa they had purchased for their missionary work, according to the suit.

By Aug. 25, the suit said, the Murrills began to suspect they had been defrauded by the Dinnings. The suit goes on to say that based on their suspicions, the Murrills learned, among other things, that there has been a moratorium for 13 years on development along South Africa’s Wild Coast, that Dinning never formed the limited liability company he said would serve as legal entity for the Murrills to acquire the three lots, that Dinning has been the subject of a number of lawsuits alleging fraud, and that Dinning previously had been legal counsel to WexTrust LLC, whose principals were recently indicted on federal securities charges for engaging in a Ponzi scheme.

The Murrills’ lawsuit states, "Mr. Dinning targets individuals with deeply religious backgrounds, environmental advocates, and intellectuals who want to invest their resources in African development projects that will not only earn them a return on their investment, but will also do something good with their monies. Unfortunately, the only good that comes of the individuals’ investments with Mr. Dinning is that it allows him and Ms. Dinning to live a lavish lifestyle which includes a million dollar home in Suffolk, exotic trips, payment of his child-support obligations, and high-end automobiles."

The Murrills’ suit seeks $220,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages of $350,000, interest and attorney’s fees.

Early in August a suit was filed against the Dinnings and their businesses, accusing them of fraud, by Allan E. Stiner Jr. of Norfolk, also an investor. Three earlier suits against Dinning by investors were settled out of court.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Dinning declined to comment on the Murrills’ lawsuit, saying that he hadn’t yet been served and knew nothing about it. Concerning the Stiner lawsuit, Dinning said his response will be filed with Norfolk Circuit Court sometime this week.

From:
http://208.40.168.117/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Public...

(14January 2010)

Ms. Flachsenhaar,

Would it be possible to communicate with you with regards to the project, and the fact that the same project have now been revived and we need to stop the bad publisity around this development, as well as seek new investors interested in getting involved in this fresh approach to community development and community participation.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours truly,

MARTIN GREYVENSTEIN

In March of 2002 - I met a man off the website match.com. He had a unique profile, a successful DC Attorney with  wonderful christian qualities including being a 'single (divorced) Dad to 2 amazing kids (daughter & son)'. After speaking together for over a month - we agreed to meet.  I flew to Washington DC to meet BRIAN DINNING. A lovely whirlwind romantic weekend it was - I admired him so much for calling and checking in with his kids, even introducing me to them over the phone! Our relationship was 'exclusive' - We talked at all hours of the day. Brian then flew to Los Angeles and we attended an event honoring Nicholas Cage at the Beverly Hilton. It was then Brian really opened up about his passion - the Earth Conservency and Pure Africa. He couldnt wait to take me on his next trip taking place in June (2002). Infact, Brian featured several pictures of himself in Africa on his match.com profile.

Due to a previous relationship gone bad, I made a promise to myself to protect myself at all costs. I dont like surprises! After Brian's trip to Los ANgeles, I hired a private investigator to check everything out. Much to my shock - this is an abbreviated version of what the investigator found:

-  Brian Dinning was/is married to Summer Dinning.

- At the time, Summer and the children were living in Virginia Beach were Brian once practiced law (also practiced in Norfolk). He took a position with a DC firm and rented an apartment in Alexandria where he stayed during the week.  Weekends were spent at home in Virginia Beach WITH the kids and his WIFE. Brian and his family have been very involved with their local church.

- Brian has been involved with a gentleman named Michael van der Merwe who is well-known for shady business practices especially foreign-based.

My investigator was very thorough in his research. Two weeks after I saw Brian in Los Angeles, Icalled and confronted him - to which - he hung up on me. Ten minuted later, my investigator called and told me Brian had reposted his ad on match.com.

Obviously, BRIAN DINNING has absolutely no moral compass. He is headed to hell - infact, I'll decorate a handbasket for him!

It surprises me that up to now everyone whoever came with developmental ideas for the wildcoast always comes from outside of that area.

We now hear of nature conservationists, mining companies, road concessionaries from outside of the wildcoast. I would like to share with you that it is not a historical mistake that this is the most pristine coastline in South Africa. Perhaps the conservationists only need to applaud the people on the Wild coast in particular Pondoland for keeping this area as pristine as it is and leave it just like that.

When will South Africans learn from each other's contributions and just appreciate instead of coming up with old colonial type despotic developmental policies. Please leave Pondoland to the Pondos in the same way self determination gets preached around elsewhere.

Actually his wife's name was Jill.  He was married (not seperated) to Jill until 2005 when he left her for his mistress named Summer.

I've noticed a flurry of interest in Brian Dinning over the past 2 days. Literally dozens of hits on this page emanating from Portsmouth and Chesapeake. I wish I could find out what the connection is, as the only articles I can find online are further, but dated, evidence from The Hamptons Road Business Journal.

E.g.: Fourth lawsuit filed against South African ventures

Extract: "The scheme with respect to the nonprofit companies is astonishingly bold,” the lawsuit says. Dinning, the suit continues, “represents to potential investors that they can earn a return and take a charitable tax deduction on an investment in a nonprofit company. Dinning uses his purported expertise as a tax lawyer to persuade potential investors that such is legally permissible. Only when investors complain about the lack of return does Dinning reveal that such is not permissible. He then uses the fact that the duped investor has illegally claimed a charitable deduction to discourage the duped investor from pursuing the Dinnings for fraud.”

And: Head of African ventures fights back

Extract: Dinning’s counter-claim charges that the Stiners filed frivolous complaints with the FBI and other federal agencies and contacted people in the community, including other investors and the Dinning’s church "recklessly and maliciously" attacking his reputation.

Inside Business was mentioned in the suit as well. Dinning claims the Stiners and others have contacted Inside Business "in a planned malicious, defamatory and slanderous manner" to harm his reputation and character and provided several "articles" to Inside Business containing false information intended to harm Dinning.

All of this, Dinning claims, has taken a "substantial emotional and physical toll." The suit says he lost the ability to sleep at night, has had to seek counseling and has had severe physical side effects including high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and acute hair loss.

In addition Dinning’s suit states he believes the Stiners’ efforts have caused a loss of potential investors and lost business opportunities.

As part of his latest filing with the court, Dinning also launched a third-party complaint against Maureen Stiner. Between the two suits, Dinning is asking the court to award him damages of at least $3 million.

In an e-mail to Inside Business Wednesday evening concerning Dinning’s counter-claim, Maureen Stiner wrote, "All of Dinning’s accusations are outrageous lies."

 


WHO WOULD YOU BELIEVE?

To whom it may concern:

I am an attorney in Norfolk, Virginia and I have been practicing law in the United States for 28 years.  I represent Brian Dinning and his business interests in the United States and his project-related interests in South Africa.  As a fellow attorney, I know that Brian Dinning is a hard-working man of integrity and he has been working diligently for a number of years on various community projects in South Africa.

I also represent Mr. Dinning in two complaints by investors.  After a thorough review of all documentation in this matter, I am of the view that the complaints are without merit.  Further, I am advised that various individuals have been attempting to damage the reputation and projects of Mr. Dinning with the government, business contacts and communities in South Africa.  We are concerned that these actions against Mr. Dinning and his projects are harming the long term interests of the rural communities  that Mr. Dinning and others have been working so hard to assist.  

We plan to vigorously and aggressively defend Mr. Dinning, his reputation, the projects and the interests of the rural communities in South Africa.  If you have any questions regarding Mr. Dinning, please feel free to contact me at any time.  My direct phone number is 757 446 8612.  

Michael P. Cotter, Esquire

Vandeventer Black, LLP Law Firm

Also, there is a multi-million dollar counter claim against the investors in the United States for libel, slander, defamation of Mr. Dinning and interference with the business of Mr. Dinning, the community and the many supportive investors which will be aggressively prosecuted against them and others who engage in such actionable conduct. 

but I think it's very funny, not to mention self-defeating, the way you use the plural "investors" as both supporters of the plaintiff and defendants against your transparent retaliatory litigation.

A couple of lame lawyer jokes spring to mind. As well as some old, but relevant, idioms: "Where there's smoke there's fire" for one, and "Hoist by your own petard" for another.

If you have any additional info, please send mail to webmasteratwildcoast [dot] com.

Please speak up y'all. And that includes the people who have spoken out in Mr Dinning's defense, but have failed to provide further corroboration when requested.

For the record, I have no personal vendetta against Brian or Steven Dinning, but happen to believe that the projects that they think worthwhile here on the Wild Coast are highly exploitative of the indigenous populace. Even if they are purported to be eco-tourism ventures.

BTW, Michael P. Cotter, Esquire . . . it would be nice if you would provide an email address.

 

Please read thoroughly. Integrity?

http://www.insidebiz.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=9B6FFC446FF7486981EA3C0C3CCE...

Full text:

Mistrial declared in African investments case

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ - Staff Writer

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A legal dispute involving South African real estate ventures, a Christian mission in Malawi, a complex chain of for- and nonprofit entities and past articles written by Inside Business ended in a surprising mistrial last week.

As the story goes, as told in testimony in Norfolk Circuit Court, it began in early 2008 with plaintiffs Danny and Debbie Murrill, a couple from Harrisburg, Pa. Danny Murrill said he and his wife, active churchgoing Christians, like to work with inner city youth in their spare time, where they play games and “tell them stories about Jesus.”

After 27 years of marriage and having raised four children, the Murrills still had dreams of a higher calling.

“It was their dream to become missionaries in Malawi,” their attorney, Jason Roper, told the jury in his opening remarks in the case that claims his clients were victims of fraud, breach of contract and other charges.

That dream took a turn toward reality when the Murrills unexpectedly came into a windfall of $220,000 from an employee stock payout from Danny’s job at a pharmaceutical firm.

On the stand, Danny Murrill, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible theology, said instead of just putting the money into an IRA to avoid the 45 percent tax burden, they saw this newfound small fortune as a way to carry out their mission work in Malawi.

Enter the Dinnings, Brian and Sommer, the defendants from Suffolk, also active churchgoers with their own missionary aspirations. Brian Dinning, according to his attorney, Duncan Byers, in opening remarks, “gave up his job to do mission work” and has spent years of his life trying to “do good works in Africa.”

The two sides were brought together after a church acquaintance of the Murrills learned of their situation and told them he knew of someone who could help.

Dinning by profession a tax attorney with expertise in international tax law set up a series of investment deals that involve a complicated tax structure.

In 2006, Inside Business first reported on Dinning’s efforts to use a web of for- and nonprofit entities to create sustainable development projects in South Africa while at the same time providing value for investors. Those efforts have also led to several legal battles with investors claiming some sort of fraud or fraudulent inducement.

In the Murrills’ case, the deal they believed they were getting into would allow them to invest the $220,000 windfall through a for-profit limited liability company into a South African real estate development Dinning was trying to get off the ground. That real estate would then be sold at a profit, he told them, and that profit would then be funneled into a nonprofit charity, all the while allowing the Murrills to forgo any tax burden from the original sum of money and any related profit while setting up and funding their religious mission. Do good, make money and pay no taxes.

“Mr. Dinning was the best thing since sliced bread,” for the Murrills’ situation, Roper told the eight jury members, one of whom was a priest.

The deal was set up so that the Murrills, through their LLC that Dinning was to create for them, would buy three lots at a South African development known as the Reserve at Hole in the Wall for $50,000 each. Those lots would then be sold at a profit and that profit, along with the remaining funds would be funneled back into their Malawi charity that Dinning was to create for them, to be known as Children of Hope.

Everything was falling into place, Danny Murrill said in his testimony. The plan “seemed like the answer to our prayers,” he said. “Now through Mr. Dinning it looked like it was going to come together.”

That was in May 2008. The Murrills eventually signed a contract as managers of their LLC, D&D Ventures LLC, for the purchase of three lots at HITW from Pure Africa Development LLC, an entity, according to the contract, represented by Brian Dinning.

When it came time for the money to change hands, the Murrills cut a check to yet another entity, African Conservation International, a nonprofit run out of the former Norfolk office of Dinning’s Pure Africa. Dinning and his wife also helped run and were paid by ACI, according to tax forms filed by the entity.

While Brian Dinning may have acted as representative or consultant for Pure Africa Development, ACI and other entities listed in the suit, the question of the trial was what legal connection does he have to those entities and can he be held liable for any wrongdoing they may have carried out. Was there a legal buffer between him and the entities he set up?

Byers attacked this point fiercely at one point moving to dismiss the lawsuit’s charge of breach of contract because Dinning isn’t personally party to the contracts in question.

“Why didn’t they sue ACI?” Byers asked the jury. “They didn’t send their money to Mr. Dinning. They sent it to ACI.”

The judge denied the motion.

The Murrills eventually received a receipt from ACI thanking them for their charitable contribution, leaving them confused as they were under the impression their money was going toward the purchase of lots and to their charity, not a different charity.

That confusion, the realization that D&D Ventures had not been formed and other inconsistencies caused the Murrills to become suspicious.

Debbie Murrill decided to Google Dinning’s name, according to Danny Murrill’s testimony . Up popped stories reported in Inside Business of past lawsuits filed against Dinning by investors from several of his ventures in South Africa including Hole in the Wall.

“That’s when we knew we had better find a lawyer,” Danny Murrill tesified.

The articles reporting the lawsuits against Dinning were the subject of a pre-trial ruling that found their content was prejudicial to the case and any mention of the articles would lead to a mistrial.

Byers, the Dinnings’ attorney, however, questioned Danny Murrill about any investigation the Murrills might have done prior to filing the suit. When asked, Murrill initially balked and said he didn’t remember any investigations, unsure of how to respond because of the prior warnings about mentioning the articles.

With the jury out of the room, the judge ruled Murrill could mention he and his wife found articles about allegations involving Dinning regarding Hole in the Wall. But he was not to mention any specifics including the fact that the allegations were actual lawsuits.

Murrill said he understood. But when the jury came back and Murrill was asked about any prior investigation, he said they had found articles about four lawsuits.

Byers quickly asked the judge for a mistrial and at one point turned back to Dinning and grinned.

Murrills’ lawyer Roper argued Byers was trying to bait Murrill into mentioning the lawsuits in front of the jury.

“He opened the door, purposely, I believe,” Roper said.

Judge Karen Jean Burrell ruled there were grounds for a mistrial.

A new trial has been set for February.

it's a shame that the Murrils have to endure the expense of even more legal fees; after they already lost their investment to a 'loophole.'

The truth is that the Dinnings, through their various holdings, never actually had the right to sell off those portions or leases; as the original R.O.D. (Record of Decision) stipulated that it (the property) was to be a 45 room hotel. (This R.O.D. actually expired in August 2006, as no development had commenced on the land.)

I reckon the potential for abuse certainly saw through.

BTW. Brian & Sommer Dinning have been conducting a campaign of credibility (if you can call it that) on Youtube. Many isolated 30 second fragments of implied philanthropism. With nothing substantial to back it up.

I have a full record, if anyone wants. (Thanks Google Alerts!)

Some days it is Brian. Some days it is B. Ray Dinning. Sometimes it is just Ray Dinning. Nice!

Threatens his daughter with taking away the two things she cares about most, her education/tuition to Stonebridge School and her cell phone. There is no question in my mind what a wolf in sheeps clothing this man is. He seems able to snow everyone over, it's incredible. Threatens to not pay the child support he owes (to his daughter) if she will not visit him. If he doesn't pay, she doesn't get to continue in the school she loves. How can you weave such a terrible web with your own children? Summer should run and Jill is lucky to be rid of him. Now if he would just leave his kids alone...

It never ceases to amaze me how in such a city as Norfolk the characters like Dinning keep cropping up. I have been watching you from afar, Mr. Dinning, for five years. I have watched you con folks with Sunpoints International - a good thing you settled that. I have chatted with Mr. Shereshevsky while tracking you down. I was privy to your shenanigans with Huff, Poll and Mahoney and I found particularly amusing how you shunted a prominent faculty member's(Regent University in the Divinity School) assets to arrange for the services of - how would you call them? - "comfort women" in Africa. I had occasion to speak with you in your apartment in Alexandria and had occasion to speak as well with your mistress, also there.
I have follwed the commentary of your various attorneys, latest of which is Mr. Byers, who seems to have gone the way of several others.
I have quite a thick file on you, Mr. Dinning, and know you for what you are. And so that there is no confusion, the next time you read the entries on this blog, read mine carefully. Then walk through your elegant home and gaze fondly at your wife and think of Africa. And after you have done that, be hoinest with yourself and realize that your life is a sham and a house of cards that will eventually tumble down and you, too, can trade it all in for a lonesome, solitary, celibate(perhaps) government paid-for vacation lasting years.

He's slimy. Hope he gets what's coming to him. He's hurt a lot of people.

After months of delay, a Norfolk jury found Brian Dinning, a/k/a Ray Dinning (some days), liable to Danny and Debbie Murrill for $722,000 for his acts of misconduct, including fraud. It looks like the con is over.

I have recently been scanned by Brian Dinning! I have invested thousands of dollars with him and am just learning of these types of emails and of other people being scammed by him as well. How can I get in touch with Danny and Debbie Murrill? There is a group of about 10 of us who have invested with Brian and all the horror stores written above seem to mirror what we all have just been through.

Help!! Brian is a shameless, heartless con-man and should be thrown in jail for many, many years!!!

For help with Dinning, send email with contact information to rufusheelatyahoo [dot] com

I do not know about anyone else's circumstances. However, I have been to South Africa with Brian and have seen these projects firsthand. The projects on the Wild Coast of South Africa are truly amazing. The local people are getting jobs and there is actual construction at the sites I visited.

There were six people on our trip and we were all amazed by the social benefit projects that Brian is working on. Before you cast stones, you should perhaps go see these projects yourself. It is easy to say words like scam and fraud but I can prove to you that the projects exist and are really helping people in need. Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves for the nasty things you have said about this man.

I was also just in South Africa and I am going again in November, 2010 to work at these projects which are helping the Xhosa people.

I know dozens of people who are working hard to make a difference in the lives of people in Africa. Brian Dinning and others are working hard to create projects that help people with jobs and education. It is never easy or quick to work in Africa.

I am encouraging Brian and a group of supporters to take action against the people who are interfering with and damaging these projects through careless and reckless statements which are hurting our investment and work.

Please see the blog "rotted apples" on Wordpress.com. It is eye opening. It is my understanding that the person instigating negativity about Brian Dinning is Jason Roper. His name has come up several times in conversations during the course of my investigation as the person behind all of this negativity.

According to this blog, Jason Roper tried to commit suicide in December, 2009 and he was fired from his law firm. According to several lawyers I know, there are pending lawsuits and bar complaints against Jason Roper.

Jason Roper and others are truly damaging these projects and their day in court is coming soon. Please be sure of and careful of the words you speak and write because you will be held accountable for them.

*lol*

All 3 preceding comments above come from the same computer. The IP address was 70.29.19.51; located in Toronto, Canada.

3 separate email addresses were used, but with striking similarities. In order:

safari20006atyahoo [dot] com
hemingway20006atyahoo [dot] com
lawyerjeraldatyahoo [dot] com

The Jason Roper link seems to be a bit of a red herring, as I can't find any obvious connection at http://rottedapples.wordpress.com.

What is true, however, is that I have copies of all the above logs and information, as well as screenshots of the Pure Africa and Earth Conservancy websites containing most of the (how shall I put this politely) somewhat extended versions of the truth.

Fact is the Record of Decision (RoD) expired at Hole in the Wall at the end of August 2006. Not only that, but the RoD allowed for the establishment of a hotel. Not for the land to be sub-divided into 50 odd erven and sold off for millions of dollars, while the original owners of the land were offered only R30,000 (less than $4,000).

What was it that the Murrils were awarded over $700,000 for?

Come on Brian, give it up! The Wild Coast, I mean. We so don't need you here. All the damage to your reputation has been done by one person only: yourself. Nothing I have written here cannot be proven; and you're only digging a deeper hole.

On that note, also kindly call off your associate Ntuthuzelo Mdledle. I really don't appreciate (or fear) his veiled threats...

He sent me a message recently about your 'investments' here, along with a facebook friend request.

His facebook page had what looks like it could be your photo as his profile pic, and the following bio:

"I an a winner, i crush all those in my way to the promised land, i believe in dedicating all my life to serving my needs and my needs Only."

His favorite quotation: "SOUTH AFRICANS R IGNORANT about almst everthin"

Don't you believe that for a second.

His facebook page seems to be MIA now (or he's simply blocked me) but of course I also have a screenshot of that - as evidence.

My wife and I live in Toronto. These were our comments from our own personal viewing of these projects. This IP address is from my work near Toronto. We did just visit with Brian and wholeheartedly support him and the projects.

It appears as though you are trying to stop them maybe because you want to put a backpackers at Hole in the Wall on your own. For example, you quote articles above that do not exist on the website where they supposedly came from.

It takes alot of people to help Africa. As Canada has named this the time for Africa to shine in the world and after a successful World Cup, let's all work together to help.

Just because Inside Business (The Hampton Roads Business Journal) has bowed under to threats of lawsuits, and removed the article (amongst many others mentioning Brian Dinning's name, business practices and chequered legal past) - about the mistrial when Jason Roper was representing the Murrills - doesn't mean it wasn't quoted from there.

I even quoted the journalist's name. Honestly, who could make that kind of stuff up? :)

The other websites you may be referring to all belonged to Brian Dinning, and were taken down ages ago to protect himself. More recently holeinthewall.info and mdumbi.com have also disappeared. However, I've just posted a few screenshots of some of his websites (dating back to 2006 when Pure Africa LLC was clearly also involved with a South African diamond mining 'operation'. *chuckle*) on my blog: www.wildcoast.co.za/jeff. (www.wildcoast.co.za/no_comment)

You're half right, BTW: I would love to see a community-owned backpackers at Hole in the Wall. Failing which that the people receive fair compensation for their land. I've stated that openly many times. What is it exactly you're trying to imply?

Believe what you like, but the facts (and outrageous fabrications) speak for themselves. How the hell can someone -who calls himself a missionary/lawyer- ethically or in good conscience carve-up and sell off poor people's land that does not at ALL belong to him?

Again: WHY were the Murrills awarded $722,000 in damages? (The answers are all contained in previous quotes and comments on this page.)

By the way, why hide behind anonymity? Embarrassed to use your name for some reason?

Good luck with that. And with believing that saying they were your and your wife's separate comments makes your actual intention any less transparent, or your naive credibility campaign any less mistaken.

And then the third comment from yet another address? What's up with that? Did you think we're not capable of tracking IP addresses in Africa? *lol*

Jason Roper was the Murrill's attorney. How did he damage the projects by obtaining a fraud verdict against Dinning for in excess of $700,000?

I, too, have read the "Rotted Apples" blog and have done some independent resesrch. Roper did try to commit suicide, has at least two bar complaints that have been referred to a higher authority, has had a sanction of pretty hefty proportions levied against him and was indeed fired by his old firm. There are numerous attorneys in the Hampton Roads area that have made no bones of the fact that Roper is as radioactive as an attorney can get. And while he did get the Murrill's a hefty verdict, he has far more pressing problems that are about to close in on him.

As I stated previously there is no obvious connection on the rotted apples blog to the assertion that Jason Roper is behind some kind of smear campaign against the 'good' name of Brian Ray Dinning.

He got a guilty conviction against Dinning, and as one is innocent until proven guilty it is a proven fact that Dinning is guilty of fraud; while Jason Roper, from what I can tell, has not even had any civil or criminal charges laid against him.

What is clear from your 'contribution' to this discussion is an apparent vested interest in assassinating Jason Roper's character. Could that be some transparent attempt to prevent other people from using him against Dinning in further litigation?

By the way, why the anonymity?

I worked with Roper at his former firm. Kind of odd that the two bar complaints against Roper were filed by Brian R. Dinning and his attorney. Maybe that speaks to their merits and who is actually posting this information about Roper.

Below is an article posted to the Inside Business web page on Friday, October 15, 2010 with additional information about the Murrill lawsuit:
http://insidebiz.com/news/attorney-seeks-quash-722000-jury-award

By Mary Flachsenhaar

mary [dot] flachsenhaaratinsidebiz [dot] com

In May a Norfolk jury ordered Brian R. Dinning, who lived in Suffolk until recently, to pay more than $722,000 to a Pennsylvania couple who sought legal guidance from Dinning, an attorney, in setting up what they intended to be a charity to help orphans in the African country of Malawi.

Danny and Debra Murrill of Mechanicsburg, Pa., had sued Dinning in Norfolk Circuit Court on charges of fraud and breach of contract.

Last month, Dinning and his wife, Sommer C. Dinning, who was also a defendant in the case, asked that the jury's verdict be set aside.

In testimony at the trial, the Murrills said their dream, since they were married in 1982, has been to do missionary work, especially among children. They said they fell in love with the country of Malawi after working alongside missionaries there for a month in 2007.

"We've lived a lot of different places," Danny Murrill said in his testimony in May. "And everywhere, we've done this type of work because we're addicted to it. We just love being with children, love being in the inner city, love being with the poor."

They learned about Dinning in spring 2008 through a friend in their church, the Murrills testified in the May trial. Dinning, a tax attorney with a master's in taxation from Georgetown University and a juris doctorate from Regent University, specialized in structuring business ventures that blended for-profits and nonprofits with the aim of making money while also doing good. The Murrills testified that their friend told them Dinning had been doing humanitarian work in South Africa for years based on his for-profit and nonprofit business model.

The Murrills testified that they expected they'd be living in Malawi soon after finalizing their deal with Dinning, along with one of their four adult children who's also committed to missionary work. The three Murrills would work to improve the quality of life for orphans through a charity they intended to call Children of Hope.

Instead, the couple said in court testimony, they are living in a cramped apartment after selling their five-bedroom home in anticipation of relocating to Malawi; they are $115,000 in debt to the IRS; and they have little hope of ever fulfilling their missionary dreams, according to testimony they presented in the civil trial in May before a jury of seven women and Norfolk Circuit Judge Karen J. Burrell.

The trial was held in Norfolk because Dinning's principal place of business, when he was advising the Murrills, was in Norfolk. That downtown office has since closed. In an e-mail to Inside Business last week, Dinning wrote, "I am no longer involved in any projects in South Africa other than as an adviser or consultant to people and businesses who wish to work in South Africa."

The Murrills said in court they grew suspicious about Dinning when, after they had already invested $220,000 of their money through him, they found online news stories about lawsuits filed against Dinning by investors in some of his South African ventures.

The suits, which were reported in Inside Business in 2008 and 2009, are similar in nature to the Murrills': After investors stroke a check to one of the businesses created by Dinning, the man whom they initially admired as a brilliant attorney, caring and committed to those living in poverty, nothing happens. According to investors interviewed by Inside Business since 2008, there has been no return on investment and no evidence of any significant progress on the South African projects.

Three suits against Dinning were dismissed after they were settled out of court. A verdict has been reached in the Murrills' suit and another two are pending.

A trial in September 2009, in which the Murrills initially made the fraud and breach of contract allegations against Dinning, ended in a mistrial when Danny Murrill made reference to previous lawsuits against Dinning after the judge had banned their mention.

In September of this year, Dinning and his wife filed a motion to strike the Murrill case with the court, claiming that the jury verdict in May was without merit and basis. Their motion is now before the judge and they are awaiting her response.

According to a transcript of the Murrills' May 2010 court testimony, this is how the couple described their expections of the deal they were entering into with Dinning:

To fulfill their dream of doing missionary work, the couple intended to use the $220,000 in retirement money Danny was about to receive through an employee stock-owned company where he had once worked. They knew they'd be heavily taxed if they just took the cash payout, so when they learned about Dinning through their friend, they were hopeful he'd be able to devise a way for them to put the $220,000 toward their new life in Malawi without having to turn 45 percent of it over to the government.

Dinning proposed to them an investment opportunity in one of his South African projects, an environmentally and socially conscious resort development called the Reserve at Hole in the Wall on the Indian Ocean. He intended for the resort to be a model in ecotourism and to provide employment for many South Africans living in poverty.

Dinning told the Murrills he needed $250,000 to construct utilities for the resort. He offered to sell the couple three lots, at $50,000 each, assuring them that the lots, which were to be marketed by Sotheby's International Realty, were certain to sell for twice that amount in about six months. The Murrills intended to channel profits from that sale into Children of Hope.

Dinning told them he would create a limited liability company, D&D Ventures LLC (for Danny and Debra), through which the Murrills could purchase the three lots. He also would create a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization called Children of Hope for their missionary work in Malawi and a bank account for it.

The remaining $70,000 from Danny's employee stock ownership program would be funneled into Children of Hope. Dinning intended to do that through one of his established nonprofits, African Conservation International, according to testimony by both Dinning and the Murrills.

The Murrills said in court that they agreed and wired $220,000 to ACI, as instructed by Dinning.

When they received a receipt from ACI, thanking them for their donation to that nonprofit, they became confused. They thought that $150,000 of their money had gone for the purchase of three lots and that $70,000 was a contribution for Children of Hope.

In August 2008, when the Murrills' doubts about Dinning began to mount, they discovered, with the help of an attorney, that D&D Ventures had never been set up, nor had a bank account for Children of Hope, according to their court testimony.

The following month they sued Dinning, hoping they'd get their money back but fearful he'd already spent it on what the Murrills' attorney, Jason Roper, referred to in court as the Dinnings' "lavish lifestyle." According to Roper, this included a million-dollar home in the Riverfront section of Suffolk, fancy cars and frequent trips, Brian Dinning's monthly child support payments of $10,000, and private school tuition for his two children from a previous marriage.

The Dinnings, said Roper, used African Conservation International as their "personal piggybank."

Dinning, who represented himself in the Murrill trial while his wife was represented by an attorney, countered the plaintiffs' allegations in court. A breach of contract with the Murrills was impossible, he said, because there never was a contract, at least not one where he was the liable party.

From the outset, the Murrills' money, he claimed, was intended to be a charitble contribution through ACI.

"No one made any misrepresentations or misconduct toward the Murrills. The project was set up under ACI as they requested on May 16 [in 2008]," Dinning testified.

"The simple fact is this case boils down to no matter what happened before and after, did the Murrills donate their money to ACI?" Dinning said in court. "I think the evidence clearly shows that they did."

The proper resolution in the case, Dinning said, would be for the Murrills to amend their tax return, which they still are able to do, and designate their $220,000 a charitable contribution. That, he said, would take care of negative tax consequences.

According to the Murrills' testimony, they owe the IRS $115,000 based on their ESOP windfall, and they are working with the agency to pay it down over time. They said they will not consider recasting the money as a charitable contribution eligible for a deduction.

Dinning's plans have also collapsed. Negative publicity from the lawsuit caused Sotheby's to withdraw from marketing the Hole in the Wall project, Dinning said in court testimony.

In last week's e-mail to Inside Business, he wrote, "The community at Hole in the Wall and the South African government have awarded the Hole in the Wall project to another South African development company, which is run by a South African professional team and [I] am no longer involved in the project at Hole in the Wall."

Concerning the court case, he wrote in the e-mail, " [I] have filed a motion to strike/motion for reconsideration of the Murrill lawsuit. I believe the verdict of the jury is utterly without merit and is without any basis in law or fact and will be vigorously defended. In the event that Judge Burrell does not grant the motion to strike, [I] plan to appeal."

During the trial in May charges against Brian Dinning's wife, Sommer, were struck down.

The more than $722,000 the jury awarded the Murrills includes compensatory and punitive damages plus interest.

Currently, Dinning is listed as an attorney with Rockville, Md.-based Kundra Associates Tax Attorneys on the firm's website, where he goes by the name Ray Dinning.

He explained in his e-mail to Inside Business: "My name is Brian Ray Dinning and I have always been called by either name by friends, family and colleagues."

The Dinnings' Suffolk home is for sale for $769,000, according to the website of real estate company William E. Wood.

Through their attorney, Jason Roper, the Murrills declined to be interviewed for this story.nibib

I know of many people who was scammed by there guys... why are they gettinng away? Or are some of them locked up?

Van der merwe is still on the loose...

Despite Mr. Dinning's assurances that the Court would grant his Motion to Strike the $722k verdict that a seven women jury rendered against him (see above), the Court denied Mr. Dinning's Motion to Strike on January 19, 2012. Thus, Mr. Dinning is now indebted to Dan and Debra Murrill in the amount of $722, plus interest from 2008 at 6% on a judgment this is nondischargeabe in bankruptcy (because of Mr. Dinning's fraud). The game is finally over Mr. Dinning. Time to pay up.

Thanks for that information. Now the problem with Cebe is that it is State owned, but no Government or Provicial Department has any sort of an idea as to who is actually is responsible for looking after and maintaining the reserve.

Tax lawyer indicted for wire fraud

Posted: June 8, 2012

By Mary Flachsenhaar

http://insidebiz.com/news/tax-lawyer-indicted-wire-fraud

Brian Ray Dinning of Toronto, a tax attorney who used to live in a $975,000 home in Suffolk and run a business from an office in downtown Norfolk, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury on wire fraud charges in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Dinning, 47, has been charged with 25 counts of wire fraud, each carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if he is convicted, in what the U.S. Attorney's office for the district refers to as a South African Ponzi scheme. Dinning is accused of using $2 million of investor money for personal gain.

Over the years, Dinning established a complex network of for-profit and nonprofit businesses whose goal, he said, was to help the indigenous people of the Wild Coast of South Africa attain a better quality of life while also making money for those who invested in his projects.

In the first of many stories Inside Business wrote about Dinning, in November 2006, he said that he thought his investors would make about a 26 percent return annually.

Many of those investors were from Hampton Roads, often members of the medical, academic and evangelical Christian communities.

But according to numerous investors interviewed since 2008, there has never been any return on investment and no evidence of significant progress on the South African projects, which included luxury villas for rent and sale, a golf course and a nature preserve, all of which were supposed to create jobs for the locals. Simultaneously, Dinning's charitable ventures were supposed to provide the tribal communities with health care, education and improved farming methods.

According to the indictment, regardless of whether his supporters made investments for profit or donations to his charity work, upon receipt of these funds, "Dinning is alleged to have immediately used their money for personal and family gain, for payment of his and his family's expenses, for payment of alimony and child support to his ex-wife, for payment of private school tuition for his children, and to make the down payment and subsequent mortgage payments on his new $975,000 home in Suffolk."

The indictment goes on to say, "As a result Dinning allegedly obtained more than $2.9 million from his investors, of which he retained more than $2 million for his and his family's benefit."

About 23 individuals have invested in his projects, the indictment says.

Steve Geller of Suffolk, a golf course superintendent, was one of them. About seven years ago, Dinning proposed a business deal, Geller said, in a phone interview last week.

If Geller and his team of golf course professionals designed and laid out a golf course atop a 300-foot cliff on the Indian Ocean in South Africa, Dinning promised him a percent of the project.

Geller made two trips to the site, the second time paying the cost of the flight and a week's stay for himself and three professional colleagues, all of which, he said, Dinning was supposed to reimburse but never did. Nor did he pay for the golf course work, Geller said.

"That should have been a quarter-million to half-million-dollar deal," Geller said, "but I charged him only $50,000."

Add to that what Geller paid out of pocket for expenses and he calculates Dinning owes him $72,000.

When his legal fees surpassed $10,000, Geller abandoned his lawsuit against Dinning.

"He ripped me off," he said. "I'm glad he got indicted."

At least five other lawsuits have been filed against Dinning by investors. Four were settled out of court and in the fifth, Dinning was ordered by Norfolk Circuit Court to pay more than $722,000 to a Pennsylvania couple who'd sued him on charges of fraud and breach of contract.

Dinning also worked at Wextrust Capital, a real estate investment firm, as corporate counsel from May to December 2004.

In 2008, charges were filed against Wextrust principals Joseph Shereshevsky of Norfolk and Steven Byers of Illinois. They were accused of creating a Ponzi scheme that targeted the orthodox Jewish community, in which they were accused of bilking investors, including many Hampton Roads residents, out of more than $100 million.

Shereshevsky pleaded guilty to fraud and is serving a 21-year prison sentence. Byers also pleaded guilty to fraud and is serving a 13-year prison sentence.

In 2008, Dinning said that neither his consulting company, Pure Africa LLC, nor any company that Pure Africa worked with in South Africa was ever associated with Wextrust Capital or anyone with Wextrust.

Last Thursday, the Norfolk office of the FBI said Dinning had not been arrested and his whereabouts were unknown.

Dinning's case was investigated by the Norfolk Division of the FBI and U.S. Attorney Steve Haynie is prosecuting the case on behalf of the U.S.

Dinning holds a juris doctorate from Regent University, a master's in tax law from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

http://insidebiz.com/news/lawyer-sues-investors-and-their-attorneys

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/3dd0197a2331444c984b444572982231/V...

http://fairfaxnews.com/2012/06/virginia-attorney-indicted-in-alleged-pon...

http://hamptonroads.com/2012/06/exsuffolk-attorney-ponzi-case-has-wextru... :

By Tim McGlone
The Virginian-Pilot
© June 12, 2012
NORFOLK

BRIAN RAY Dinning, an attorney charged with orchestrating a $2 million Ponzi scheme, left a trail of investors who believed they would make money off South African gold, diamonds and real estate while contributing to wildlife protection and building churches.

Instead, according to an indictment filed last week, he used most of the money to buy a million-dollar home in Suffolk, pay for his children's private school tuition and make alimony and child support payments.

Authorities also say that Dinning was tied to WexTrust Capital, an investment company that bilked $100 million from its clients. Both lured investors through an investment scheme called Pure Africa, according to court records and other legal filings.

Dinning, 47, remains at large. A federal grand jury indicted him on 25 counts of wire fraud. Authorities say that he fled the area after selling his home in Harbour View, Suffolk, for a $300,000 loss in January, and that they believe he is in Toronto.

A Pennsylvania native, Dinning received his law degree from Regent University and began working for local law firms in the early 1990s.

Portsmouth attorney Stephen Heretick said he worked with Dinning at the same Norfolk law firm in the late 1990s. He recalled Dinning touting investments.

"He was always doing these odd deals that no one understood with Africa," Heretick said.

Dinning made frequent trips to Africa, he said, and "would come back and talk about this nature conservancy and that he's meeting with minister of something."

Dinning persuaded several faculty members at Regent to invest with him. One professor, Andrew Quicke, sued Dinning over a failed investment. The case was settled out of court, said Jason Roper, the attorney for Quicke. The indictment says Dinning used $32,000 from Pure Africa investors to pay the settlement.

Roper handled at least two investor lawsuits against Dinning. Dinning fought back by filing a complaint against Roper with the Virginia State Bar, which suspended his license for three years after finding that he committed misconduct by treating Dinning and a witness unfairly.

Roper admitted that he once lost his temper and shouted at a deposition in one of the lawsuits. Among Dinning's accusations was that Roper, while contacting other investors, called him a fraud.

Roper remains bitter.

"He ruined my career," said Roper, who now practices in Pennsylvania.

He said the families he represented have been devastated. Some invested their life savings with Dinning. Several investors contacted said they feared speaking publicly because Dinning remains at large.

Roper likened the Dinning case to that of disbarred attorney Troy Titus. A Norfolk federal jury in December 2009 convicted Titus of 33 felonies, finding that he had operated a Ponzi scheme that cost investors around $8 million. Titus received a 30-year prison term. He lost his appeal in April.

Both Titus and Dinning used investment seminars to lure people in, according to court documents.

Dinning, Roper said, "went to people with an elaborate scheme that he was able to pull off based on his training as a lawyer and his knowledge of legal documents to make it look legitimate when there was no legitimacy to them."

Besides Regent faculty, Dinning targeted local physicians, authorities said. In all, 22 investors lost $2.9 million, of which Dinning kept and spent $2.06 million, they said, adding that the rest was put toward trying to establish the investments in South Africa

The indictment alleges that Dinning began the scheme in May 2005. That was about six months after he left WexTrust Capital. He told Inside Business magazine in 2008 that he worked for WexTrust as its corporate counsel for about eight months.

WexTrust chief principals Joseph Shereshevsky, who ran the company's Norfolk office, and Steven Byers of Chicago bilked 1,400 investors out of $100 million. They were convicted and are serving lengthy prison terms.

Both Dinning and WexTrust lured investors with promises of high rates of return on investments that included South African diamond and gold mines and luxury developments along the country's eastern Wild Coast. Both touted the Pure Africa investment plan.

Dinning set up more than a dozen limited liability companies with the Pure Africa name, such as Pure Africa Holdings and Pure Africa Minerals. Nearly all of them were registered with the Virginia State Corporation Commission in 2006.

Dinning convinced one investor, a local doctor, that he was building "the next Pebble Beach" in South Africa and that the investment would return as much as 40 percent, according to the indictment.

He also told the investor a bogus story that he had already developed a lodge with an animal sanctuary as well as a diamond mine, the indictment says. The doctor signed a check to Dinning personally for $250,000.

Dinning took $57,500 from two investors for a Pure Africa real estate development, but also to build a church in the name of the 16-year-old daughter of one of them, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack, the indictment says. The church was never built.

In 2006, the excuses began, according to the indictment.

One investor was told that squatters had encamped on the property and there were problems with getting them removed.

As recently as March, Dinning told investors that "new management" had been put in place and that they should expect their money to double, the indictment says.

But Dinning failed to tell investors that the South African government, in 2008, shut down the Pure Africa venture in that country, seizing all of its assets. Some of that money is now being used to repay WexTrust investors, according to the receiver in that matter.

Authorities say that instead of investing the money, Dinning used some of it to pay off earlier investors and the rest to pay his ex-wife's $11,000-a-month alimony and child support. He allegedly also used money to pay his mortgage on his 4,600-square-foot home that sits on a peninsula overlooking a James River tributary. He sold the home in January for $665,000, about $300,000 less than he paid for it.

He also paid nearly $500,000 to his brother, Stephen Dinning, to move to South Africa and work on his behalf from 2005 to 2010, the indictment says. The brother, who is not charged, also gave tours of development sites and mines to investors who traveled there.

A couple from the Harrisburg, Pa., area who invested their life savings with Brian Ray Dinning, won a $722,000 judgment against him in Norfolk Circuit Court in 2010. That case remains on appeal.

Dinning had promised the couple that he would use part of their investment to set up a missionary project in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Africa, the indictment says. Instead, it says, Dinning used most of the money to pay his mortgage, his car payment, his alimony and child support, his taxes, and his children's tuition.

Good things come to those who wait. If you are reading this, Brian, the Federales are closing in on you. There will come a time when you will hear the steel gates clang shut behind you and my advice is "Don't drop the soap".

I wonder how long Sommer Dinning (Mr. Dinning's wife) remains at Mr. Dinning's side to offer him support and comfort. Since he likely will receive twenty years in a federal prison (if not more), is broke, and will on the receiving end of numerous "real intrusions," my bet is she files for divorce within three months.

Also, did anyone read the indictment and see that Mr. Dinning's attorney, Duncan Byers, received stolen funds? An honorable attorney would give the money back. Doubt it.

Please, when you write this think about who may be reading this. I am a Dinning. I know my father has done some horrible things, but he is still my father. I love him very much and it destroys me to read all these things about him. My life is becoming a living hell for things i wasn't even aware of. For what it's worth i am sorry for all the wrong that has been done to you all.

I assume that you are Mr. Dinning's daughter that goes to VMI and runs cross-country. Please note that your father is a scum-bag, con-man who ruined people's lives and did so without regard to the consequences. While you may not care for this blog and the numerous newspaper articles about Mr. Dinning, people have waited a long time for him to "face the music." If you care so much for him, why don't you convince him to turn himself in to the FBI.

On a side note, you state that you were not aware of what was going on? Puzzling? If you are at VMI, you are pretty smart. I found it hard to believe that you never questioned how your daddy paid for a million dollar house, your private school, etc. when he did not have a job.

I lost a considerable sum to Dinning, but I would never stoop so low as to attack his daughter. She has nothing to do with this. She has nothing to apologize for. She owes me nothing, and I feel sorry for her.

Dinning "ruined people's lives"? A bit dramatic don't you think? Nazis raiding your home and raping and killing your family. That is ruining your life. But relatively wealthy Americans(we are all wealthy compared to the rest of the world) losing money in an investment scheme? Some perspective please. If Roper claims his life was ruined, it was his own unethical conduct that was the cause. Dinning didn't make him act unethically. And while I sympathize with the losses of the others, and I am not quite pleased with my own losses, in fact it is quite a hardship, all we lost was money. This young lady lost her father (assuming he goes to jail) and much of her reputation, pride and dignity. "Who is giving the bride away?" "My father would, but he is in jail, so this other guy has too." I wouldn't trade places with her for anything.

And insinuating she knew something was fishy? Who made you God? Dinning had some high paying jobs over the years and a wealthy father too. She was just a kid. There is no honor in making ignorant accusations about an innocent young lady who is hurting.

Obsess about Dinning all you want. It will only hurt you, not him. He will get justice. I trust that. But I won't waste any mental energy on wringing my hands or salivating for his demise. Life is too short to dwell on revenge. I made my mistake and I will live with it. Dinning will get no more from me. But for God's sake, leave his kids out of this.

Any daughter loves her father as any child loves a parent. However, it is incumbent upon you as his daughter, as a Dinning and as a Keydet to step up to the plate and convince your father that the honourable thing to do is to present himself to the authorities. You are honour bound to assist them in any way that you can. He is currently only accused of these crimes and, from what I understand, considered innocent until such time as he is adjudged guilty by a jury of his peers. If he has done nothing wrong, he should vigorously defend himself and make himself available to do so. That is what any honourable person would do. If not, and if he chooses to continue to allude the authorities, then he should be allowed no quarter and you should turn your back on such a rogue, father or not, as he would have no place amongst honourable people.

It is a sad commentary indeed to watch vindicative sorts lash out at Dinning so as to damage his children. Yet, "ye shall reap what ye sow". Dinning, Roper and now Byers - what a nest of vipers. It really reassures us common folk that lawyers are all we think of them.
What do you think the odds are that:
1. Dinning will turn himself in
2. Roper will serve out his suspension and acknowledge his perfidity
3.Byers will pay back the ill-gotten gains
Pretty slim, eh?

Well, Brian, you certainly have led folks on a merry chase, but hiding out in Canada isn't going to work very well for you. Your wife's tribe has covered pretty well for you. Did Sommer change her name back to her maiden name to throw folks off or has she realized that Life with Brian is a bit more than she bargained for? You're in Canada, Toronto actually, and it won't be long before the RCMP comes up your walkway. My bet is that they will not be there for a social visit.

Brian-
Nice to see you back in the game. I read your long winded explanation about all the terrible people who have tried to upset your apple cart. However, a number of things have come to mind. If things are truly as you say they are and Stiner and Battle and all the others who have waged this vicious war on your project are as bad as you say, step forward and make your case. Granted, the fraud conviction in Norfolk as well as the FBI indictments are problems, but I am sure that once you have come forward and given your explanation, all will be right in the world once again and you can continue your crusade to help the poor Xhosa tribespeople. It does, howwever, look a bit peculiar that you have fled and your whereabout(at least to most folks) is unknown. Perhaps Terry or Michael and Rachelle can arrange to have you come back to the States. I am sure that Mr. McBride will understand your side to the issue. Come on, Brian, step up and show Sommer that you are quite the man.

I too find Mr. Dinning's "articles" interesting to say the least. I am looking forward to the article that explains the fraud verdict in Norfolk and the indictment, but doubt we will see any explanation. Also, have to wonder why Dinning refuses to turn himself in to the FBI if he is actually innocent.

I have read Dinning's articles. In one of them he states that he is anxious to have his day in court to expose all the perfidity of those who, according to him, led him astray. All I can say, is that now he has a perfect opportunity to step forward and state his claims. If they are true, he should be allowed to walk away with his head held high. However, by fleeing, he certainly puts his credibility in question. Perhaps his family can be persuaded to convince him to do the honourable thing and face his accusers.

As most people know, Norfolk attorney Duncan G. Byers has represented Brian Dinning and his wife, Sommer, for the past three plus years. For those who have read Dinning's indictment, it is clear that Byers knowingingly took stolen money from Dinning to pay his legal bills. Despite this fact, Byers has refused to pay his ill-gotten gains back to Dinning's victims. What is more absurd is that Byers is currently representing Dinning and refuses to disclose his location to the FBI.

What a crook and thief.

I don't believe Byers is on charge here.

Money comes. It goes. Comme ci, comme ca.

Even after the trial and verdict; there's no way you can hold the lawyer culpable. Loads of real travesties of justice. Get real. FOCUS!

I agree with you, Jeff. Byers perhaps should be more circumspect regarding his choice of clients, but I do not think he is the person here at fault. In fact, no one really knows if Dinning is at fault. He has been indicted and is being sought by the authorities, but has not even had a trial. If, of course, it can be proved that Dinning did what he is accused of and it can be proved that Byers profited from Dinning's alleged perfidity, then that is another story. Regardless, things are going to be interesting in the Dinning household(whatever is left of it) for quite some time. I think that, given the noise Dinning has made about"his day in court", he ought to turn himself in and stop hiding. Comments?

I have read with some interest Brian Dinning's nine part series regarding his adventures in Hole in the Wall and social ventures. I came away with the feeling that no matter how hard you try to polish a turd, at the end of the day, a turd is still a turd.

The Canadian authorities have arrested Brain Ray Dinning and are holding him pending extradiction to the United States. He is currently under a US Federal indictment charging him with 25 counts of wire fraud. He was arrested yesterday in Toronto, Canada.

Dear Sommer:

For the sake of our family name please leave this sorry excuse for a man. I only call him this because as we all know a man is suppose to take care of his family. However, he is not suppose to do this at the expense of others, and where is he now?

Do you think your grandmother would approve? Do you think E.C. would let him in her house? Do you think your grandmother would lend him money? Sommer, do the right thing and leave him. Testify against him and become the heroine of this story and put this person behind bars for the rest of his life. Put him there and let the people he has swindled sleep at night knowing that he will never do this to anyone else ever again.

Do you think your parents approve of this situation? Do you think K&T would let him in their house again? Do you think K&T would lend him money? If you don't testify against him I will never speak to you again until you apologize to every member of the family.

Do you think your aunt and uncle approve? Do you think A&J would let him in their house? Do you think A&J would lend him money? What about your other aunt YM? What about your sisters? Do you think R R or R would approve? Do you think they would lend him money? You have probably already asked many of the people I have listed haven't you? They all said no didn't they?

If you don't do the right thing and leave him then I have to assume you were in on it and if that is the case then you are dead to me and a lot of other relatives you have. Remember blood is thicker than water and in the end all you are going to have is blood to rely on because this person, who is going to jail for a very long time, would sell you out in a heart beat.

Sommer do the right thing, testify against him.

Here's one for you, Sommer. My bet is that if you don't do what your relative has suggested, K, wife of T, is going to remove the S from that stylish tat on K's arm so it will only read R,R and R. And you thought that the S should be the largest!
Dump the loser, let him rot in Club Fed and move on.

I'm Brian Dinning's brother-in-law and I'm simultaneously sorry and relieved that I'm ignorant of his business affairs. What's clear from reading this Blog is that there are an awful lot of people whom have been hurt and have lost money through their business dealings with Brian, and are understandably angry. I'm sorry for this and hope that the multiplying miseries surrounding this situation can be resolved as cleanly and honestly as possible, and that the courts can determine the truth and offer resolution and closure that will help ( please forgive the cliche) the healing begin.

I just wanted to say that I know Sommer's family very well (I'm married to one!) and they are as lovely, sincere, honest and trusting a family as you could imagine. They love their daughter unconditionally and want nothing more than to support her, and so to the person who posted anonymously above this note, I would ask that they contact me directly so that we might discuss how best to help Sommer through this crisis.

Life is long, strange and sometimes very sad, and to all of you on this board I wish nothing but the best and am sincerely sorry for the losses you have suffered.

I don't wish to censor this page, but the distasteful comments and extreme insensitivity to Sommer's (and Brian's children) heartbreaking plight are tempting my resolve.

If (anonymous relative) were one of my family I would be exceedingly grateful if they were no longer in my life.

I can see how this whole thing began and ended. And truthfully, as much of a fool Brian may have been (with narcissistic tendencies, and the "Dunning-Kruger syndrome" to boot) I fondly believe that he never set out to deceive. (Though with the gross exaggerations and factual distortions from the outset, that is hard to conceive. But it is my fond hope, as I hate to believe the worst of anyone.)

He may have even had a chance of pulling it off it wasn't for the fact that I live here in Hole in the Wall and was able to point out the factual, um, distortions, from the start.

And so he found himself in a situation where he was forced to use investor funds to keep afloat. And as his flailings became more desperate, he compromised himself more and more; until he eventually rewrote the Record of Decision himself, and attempted to sell the land illegally. Taking investments and fraudulently calling them charitable donations, on the other hand... well, if that's true, it's in the jury's hands.

I'm truly sorry for the family's pain. I only wanted to protect the community from exploitation here.

It is all well and good to prat on about the many virtues of Dinning's family - at least on his wife's side. But were these not the same folks who knew full well that Brian was wanted by the authorities and had been indicted. I am sure that such a witty blogger such as Michael would be aware of the pickle his brother-in-law had found himself. And the rest of the family - what about them? Where was the moral courage - if nothing else - to confront Brian, particularly after that long diatribe about how misunderstood he was, and get him to turn himself in to the authorities so he could tell his side of the story and have his day in court? What did they do? Nothing, but smugly look the other way and tut-tut behind closed doors. This, in my opinion, makes them no better than Dinning himself.
And-Jeff - do not be gulled into thinking that Dinning didn't set out to con these many folks. There are those of us who have known of Dinning far longer than before you came along.
And as for that blushing young silph, Sommer - don't you think for one minute that she didn't hop right on that financial bandwagon from the get-go. She is up to this to her charming tattoed right arm.
So spare me the self-effacing, sanctomonious claptrap. Nail Dinning to the wall of his cell and let the rest of his miscreant family suffer the consequences of harbouring that wretch.

You sure you hold the moral high ground while hiding behind anonymity to post your hateful vitriol?

I know what city you live in. Can't be too difficult to find which /idiot/ from NC lost money to Dinning's failed ventures.

Seems your hatred and thirst for vengeance is based purely on your bitterness from losing money irretrievably. Not a very cool mindset, dude. You need some training in compassion and forgiveness.

Leave Sommer and the children out of it. You could never turn in your own family for a white collar crime. Hell, here in SA we elect them president! ;)

Sadly, you're just a pathetic troll.

I'm fully aware of Dinning's connections to Wextrust and vd Merwe; and the myriad of disconnections between reality and his fantasy. It almost could have worked (at the expense of my local community's land rights) but it fell through. His magical thinking is a disease, and I hope he gets the help he needs.

You too.

Jeff-
Thanks for the lesson regarding the moral high ground. This character has been gulling folks for long before you were around and it is a pleasure to see him in the hot seat. As for poor Sommer and the rest of the tribe, sorry, but I just don't share your compassion. As I said previously, this crew of clowns was quite content to shelter Dinning so that he could continue his sham of a life, all whilst knowing full well what he was facing. I didn't advocate that they turn him in; rather, I found it strange that none of them ever brought any pressure to bear on him to step up and state his case. And while you may think what you will as to who or where I am - try again. Anonymity has kept me in one piece and in dealing with this crew, it is more out of caution than anything else. So DUDE, we can do without more touchy-feely advice.

Brian, I guess by this time you don't get a chance to read this. We use to work for the same firm before all this and the ventures. I was quite surprised to see the name in the newspaper just a few months ago and looked down several times again and again, "is that Brian? ... Brian Dinning?" I sort of get a chuckle out of that, too, since I know I was not alone whenever some that just found out all this had been going on did the same. Really, Brian was a good guy and this is all a surprise. I really can't say what roads he turned down or what caused this all...and really, Brian, if you do get this: an affair you were having back there? and then another in Northern Virginia, and then off to LA and the whole Nicholas Cage thing? Seriously, folks, that is just how I see it since this was nothing like anyone I knew and I am not half bad at character analysis, but, I can be wrong sometimes. I can tell you the firm we use to work for was one of the tops and they, too, would not have had him employed there if he was not of the like character, which were very good people in the area and not just as lawyers. But, anyway, back to some of what I would like to say to the investors. I realize you have had your reasons to invest...and apparently, Brian was really getting around to beg for the money with many diverse people, BUT, yes, there is a "but".. my mother was a missionary. She went to Mexico and lived there for years. Lived there with the poor people with dirt floors. Her funds came from the World Missionary Fund and various donations. Her other missionary friends, the Heflins in Hanover County, Virginia, lived in little one room cinder block homes when they were not traveling to spread the ministry. My cousin on my other side of the family lived in Russia and a very hostile neighboring country for years as their ministry and just came back to to the US a few years ago, and by no means wealthy to just be a Baptist minister in Georgia. This is not about "a venture". You should have known that. Everyone should have known that. I can't believe that you are dumb like that and really question if you were. You don't seek to have a return on your MONEY in doing your work in this area or if you have a "calling". WTF??
The poster way back a few posts that even said he thought Brian owed him and a few people for having traveled to Africa (by the way, interjecting before I lose the thought.. my mother thought I had some "calling" that I might go to Africa one day. Dang, Brian, if I had only known...lol. Her cousin was Pat Roberson's VP of Public Relations for years until the day she died. Very genuine people...long before his Regent University)...back to the, was that Suffolk? investor... and that he even had to pay for his golf week. Are you kidding ME? Come on! If I was the judge you could blow me on that one. I don't know what Brian was thinking of, nor all his intentions, but I tend to agree that that there are some real back biting, and most likely lying, people that have posted some things here....actually, altogether...family and all. Genuine people do things that might require some money to help out, but do not expect returns, not play that stupid, either. If I was Brian I might be happy to go the club fed for a while to get away from all of you folks and cut the losses. And really, where did the $11,000 dollar in support he was expected to pay come from? When I knew him at the firm we worked for an attorney did not even get paid that much. That figure has an interesting story behind it, I am sure, which apparently no one cared about, but only getting paid. Again, all of you, are questionable in my book, from the investors, to the attorneys, to the family. Easy to just nail that guy up there to the cross, eh? Ever think about that one, folks? You are without sin?
Last, but not least. My family, on my father's side, The Nansemond Indians, has fought the City of Suffolk for years just to have some little tribal land back just to maybe put a museum on it and have the yearly Pow Wows to keep the history alive. We sought just to have more updated history books and so on. To you in Africa on a "Wild Coast", I realize, too, what it is to have had the land taken, but we also fought many wars here. It is ironic that I know someone that did that there. I am sensitive to this, but it looks, too, as some posters stated..it is still all about the money and not just to help people live a quality of life that might be just quite simple. Sounds like there was more than diamonds there but, gold, on the Wild Coast for many interested parties. Shame on you for all the scams, as I said, you were just as much a part of that as what is supposed to be Brian's entire wrong doing.
Sincerely,
Robin Kaye Bass Garnto
PS, sorry for such a rough and casual draft, but I also feel quite empassioned, too, I don't know if I had edited it that it would convey anything REAL instead of the business that you keep talking about in the name of God.

On The second of this month, Brian Dinning, was sentenced to twelve and a half years in the Federal Penal System of the United States.

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