Boise & Garden City

Property manager, 3% of Idaho leader fined for workers’ comp violations

Brandon Curtiss speaks to reporters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge after he and other armed members of the Pacific Patriot Network from Idaho, Washington and Oregon arrived during occupation of the wildlife refuge outside Burns, Ore., in January.
Brandon Curtiss speaks to reporters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge after he and other armed members of the Pacific Patriot Network from Idaho, Washington and Oregon arrived during occupation of the wildlife refuge outside Burns, Ore., in January. The Oregonian

An Ada County judge has ordered Liberty Property Management to pay $7,200 after owner Brandon Curtiss failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance for his employees.

A default judgment was entered after Curtiss, 42, failed to respond to the civil complaint filed in Ada County Magistrate Court.

The suit was filed in May by the Idaho Industrial Commission, which claimed Liberty Property Management had not carried the required insurance since Oct. 1.

At about the same time, the Idaho State Police opened an investigation into claims from at least 17 clients that Curtiss owed them money. The property owners said Curtiss, who also owns Curtiss Property Management, collected rent from tenants but failed to turn over the money to them.

The case is still under investigation, ISP spokeswoman Teresa Baker said.

Curtiss is president of 3% of Idaho, this state’s branch of a militia movement that says it’s devoted to “freedom, liberty and the Constitution.” He drew attention to his businesses in an interview with an Oregonian reporter during a visit to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January, while it was seized by armed protesters. Three weeks later, he filed for bankruptcy — his third filing since 2001.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has also looked into complaints about Curtiss filed with its Consumer Protection Division.

In an Aug. 8 letter sent to one of the complaining property owners, Deputy Attorney General Stephanie Guyon wrote that Curtiss had turned over “minimal records” in responding to the complaints. Guyon said she sent the property management company a letter informing it “of our disappointment with its lack of cooperation and its refusal to assist complaining customers.”

“I hope they (don’t) just drop this case and let this guy go,” said Edison Fong, who owns a rental home in Boise that was managed by Curtiss until he was fired in April.

Curtiss owes him $2,170 in rent and for a deposit, Fong said.

In an email to the Statesman, Curtiss said his property management businesses have been shut down.

“We are in the process of winding down and will make all efforts to fulfill any outstanding obligations,” wrote Curtiss, who now lives in Fruitland.

Curtiss also faces two small-claims court actions filed over the summer in Ada County.

Randy Brooks and Kathleen Eddy, owners of the Fruitland house Curtiss and his girlfriend are renting, served their tenants Aug. 28 with a three-day notice to pay $1,347 in rent they claim was owed — or vacate the premises. When no payment was made, Brooks and Eddy filed an eviction action Sept. 2 in Payette County Magistrate Court.

Curtiss said the dispute did not involve rent but was about repairs to the home that Curtiss agreed to make to offset deposit costs.

On Aug. 31, Curtiss’ girlfriend, Brooke Agresta, filed for a protection order against Brooks. She claims Brooks threatened to kill her and to forcefully remove her, Curtiss and seven minor children living in the household.

Brooks denied the accusations, saying he just wanted to be paid. He said Curtiss posted an armed guard to prevent him from entering the property.

That same day, Payette County Magistrate Robert Jackson signed a temporary protection order, pending a hearing on Tuesday. A separate hearing on the eviction will take place that same day.

Curtiss and his wife, Stephanie, who has separated from him, claimed debts of $235,000 and assets of $13,230 in the February bankruptcy filing.

Late last month, Gail Geiger, the Northwest region bankruptcy trustee, filed a document claiming the couple have provided only a portion of the financial documents requested in the case.

“The United States trustee anticipates that obtaining the documents will likely require subpoenaing records from financial institutions,” Geiger wrote.

Curtiss also owes a Portland couple, Aaron and Leslie Boyce, $68,549 from a judgment issued after Curtiss failed to turn over rents and deposits owed on a rental he had managed for them. Because the judgment was against the management company, it isn’t part of the bankruptcy case.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

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