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‘Rowayton Cowboy’ files FOI request, accusing Norwalk officials of racketeering

An image included in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Scott Merrell to Norwalk Tax Collector Lisa Biagiarelli.

NORWALK, Conn. — Mayor Harry Rilling and one of his competitors agree on a significant issue, though one a mayor has little power over.

Neither Rilling nor Scott Merrell, also known as the “Rowayton Cowboy,” approve of Connecticut’s reliance on property taxes.

The thoughts of Merrell, who has filed papers to run for both Norwalk mayor and Connecticut governor, are peppered throughout a Freedom of Information Act request delivered to the city on July 3 and titled “F.O.I.A.-REQUEST: Dr SCOTT P. MERRELL DECLARATION OF CANIDACY {sic} FOR MAYOR OF NORWALK, CONNECTICUT: 2017”

NancyOnNorwalk received Merrell’s FOI request on Tuesday through an FOI request to Tax Collector Lisa Biagiarelli. This followed Merrell’s visit to the Republican Town Committee meeting on Monday, where he attempted to get the Republican mayoral candidate endorsement even though he is not a registered Republican, according to RTC Vice
Chairman Victor Cavallo.

In the FOI request, Merrell, who lost his Wilson Point home through the 2008 tax sale and was subsequently arrested, addresses Rilling, members of the Corporation Counsel office, State Sen. Bob Duff, Attorney General George Jepsen, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Biagiarelli, quoting the 1765 Stamp Act before getting to the request for information.

Merrell requests “A LIST OF ALL THE NAMES, ADDRESSES, SALARY’S {sic} AND BENEFITS OF ALL EMPLOYEES OF THE CITY OF NORWALK AND THE NORWALK BOARD OF EDUCATION IN THE YEAR 2016” with several different variations – those that live in Norwalk, those who do not; those who pay taxes to Norwalk and those who do not. He also asks for a list of AFL-CIO union members and a list of the amount of taxes they paid in 2016.

The Freedom of Information Act does not require a government to compile lists. Citizens can request copies of lists that the government has already compiled, but cannot force government workers to spend time creating a list.

“He paid for and received a printout of the income of the City and Board employees,” Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeffry Spahr explained Tuesday in an email. He went on to confirm that’s the same list requested every January by NancyOnNorwalk, and posted without charge.

Merrell, who describes himself in the FOI request as a whistle-blower/investigator/qui-tam-relator, ran for governor in 2006, 2010 and 2014. His appeal of the Board of Assessment Appeals valuation of his Wilson Point home was dismissed; he took it to the State Supreme Court but was turned down in 2013.

In 2010, Merrell refused to leave the driveway of his former home and demanded that Norwalk Police arrest him, calling himself a political prisoner.

Merrell, in an interview with Fox61 posted on YouTube in 2011, described the house as a tear down and alleged that it was wildly over-assessed.

“The United States of America is based on English Common law. English Common law, tax is based on consent. … That’s why it’s voluntary,” he said.

Merrell’s FOI request is part history lesson and cites the Constitution over and over.

Under the heading, “Civil RICO – Public Official Extortion Under Hobbs Act,” Merrell states, “The Slate of Connecticut’s deceptive business practices, charging greatly higher property tax rates In Municipal Corporations vs. Townships violates the ‘equal protection clause’ Amendment XIV of the U.S. Constitution and Sec. 1 “equal In rights” and Sec. 20 ‘equal protection of the law’ of the Constitution.”

RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States.

Rilling in 2015 said he fully supports the Connecticut Conference of Municipality’s (CCM’s) effort to reform Connecticut’s “regressive and antiquated” tax structure, in which Norwalk relies upon property taxes for 85 to 90 percent of its government funding.

He was not available for comment late Tuesday.

Merrell includes in his FOI request a 2009 field card of his former property, listing the assessment at $4.4 million. “UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT V: ‘nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,’” the FOI request states.

An excerpt:

“[All Defendants] Doe Defendant State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D)

1.              “As set forth above, the ‘Cartel’ and the CITY OF NORWALK ET AL, CARMELO J. THOMAS. JANE READY, Michael Barbis, State Senate Majority Leader BOB DUFF and the Connecticut General Assembly, Gina McCarthy, Richard Blumenthal, Richard A. Moccia, Suzanne Vieux, Robert F. Maslan Jr., Linda M. Guliuzza Esq., Lisa Biagiarelli Esq., Brian L. McCann Esq., Harry Rilling, Michael S. Lynch, the Norwalk B.A.A, Prudential Reality, Kenneth M. Whitman, Michael J. Stewart and the Doe Defendants and the Associated Organizations, on a number of occasions, engaged, attempted to engage, and conspired to engage in monetary transactions, in or affecting commerce, in property derived from specified unlawful activity, namely, extortion, of a value greater than $10,000, knowing that the property was derived from unlawful activity.”

 

 

The specified members of the “cartel” are an organization engaged in racketeering, the FOI request states, referring to RICO.

Merrell, in the Fox61 interview, said that his property taxes had gone up to $50,000 in 2007, when they should have been around $8,000.

“They can’t force me to pay something that is not even reasonable,” he said. “…They are not going to surrender my manhood to own a home in the state of Connecticut.”

“The reval tax doesn’t base on a purchase price. It’s just any number the city of Norwalk wants to make up,” he said.

Revaluations are performed by an outside assessment company, with the latest reval done by Vision Government Solutions Inc. Purchase prices of neighborhood properties are part of the assessment.

Merrell in the interview said he stopped paying taxes when the assessment went too high, and he was making himself a test case.

“If they want to steal my home based on fraud, that’s a criminal conspiracy, really,” he said.

“The country needs complete change and we need government like we are supposed to have, a government of the people, not of these self-annointed ones, that these political parties arrange. It’s like an arranged marriage, you never get any real choices,” Merrell said.

His FOI request also suggest that Merrells’ gubernatorial run will include a manifesto on fluoride:

1.     “The ‘MERRELL-THEORY’’ on cancer is over a twelve year period if you remove fluoride from both sources; the toothpaste and the water supply nationally. You will reduce the cancer rate in America by 30 to 50%. The first step is easy and anybody can do it. Switch you toothpaste with baking soda. The second step is easy too. Only drink water and prepare your food with *charcoal filtered water. The third step, eliminate all artificial sweeteners and only use natural brown sugar. This is the “MERRELL-THREE-STEP-PROGRAM.’”

7 comments

Sue Haynie July 26, 2017 at 6:13 am

@Nancy on Norwalk, I think you’d find that all Norwalk’s Mayoral candidates, Lisa Brinton, Merrell, Rilling and Conroy, would state an objection with Connecticut’s over-reliance on property taxes. What will they do about it is the question. Even with all Norwalk’s growth, Rilling raised property taxes this year.

Josh Ornstein July 26, 2017 at 7:29 am

@Sue, you’re right. Seems like Rilling is the only one who could have done anything about property taxes, but instead raised spending more than 10% in four years.

Donna July 26, 2017 at 10:33 am

I understand why he’s pissed about his property taxes. Mine went up over 30% from last year–enough to make me question why I should stay in Norwalk for the long term, or whether or not I can afford to. Waiting for the Firetree decision first. No way to sell anything at market value in South Norwalk these days. Norwalk has a real problem attracting homeowners, investors and wealth in general. Spiking property taxes up and up isn’t helping. The next mayor will hopefully find other ways to generate revenue before the well runs dry.

Louis July 26, 2017 at 11:09 am

No one is moving into Norwalk, just moving out but the current Administration doesn’t care. These homes will eventually become rentals and allow for building more apartments and condos.

Norwalk is a transient town and thats who is being targeted with the new developments in town.

Tony P July 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Sounds like the perfect running mate for Brinton, or Thompson, or Brinton Thompson.

Town of Fairfield, here I come!

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NancyOnNorwwalk.com was conceived as the place to go for Norwalk residents to get the real, unvarnished story about what is going on in and around their city. NancyOnNorwalk does not intend to be a print newspaper online; rather, it exists to pull the curtain back and shine a spotlight on how Norwalk is run and what is happening regarding issues that have an impact on taxpayers’ pocketbooks and safety. As an independent site, NancyOnNorwalk’s first and only allegiance is to the reader.

About Nancy

Nancy came to Norwalk in September 2010 and, after reporting on Norwalk for two years for another company, resigned to begin Nancy On Norwalk so she engage in journalism the way it was meant to be done. She is married to career journalist Mark Chapman, has a son, Eric (the artist and web designer who built this website), and two cats – a middle-aged lady and a young hottie who are learning how to peacefully co-exist.