Update: Port Austin Odyssey
Since the settlement agreement of 2007, Norman Edwards paid Terry Williams one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), then nothing. In 2014, Edwards filed for bankruptcy. Williams’ Settlement Agreement was one of many debts Edwards asked that the court vacate. Williams’ Settlement Agreement was dismissed: Terry Williams, after mortgaging his home and ending up homeless himself for a period, received just the one thousand dollars from Edwards.
Port Austin Odyssey
08 November 2007
The unfortunate saga that began when four men—Messrs Terry Williams, Paul Drieman, Philip Frankford, and Norman Edwards—came together to form a ministry and to purchase real property at the geographical tip of Michigan’s Thumb is still not over, but the saga took a turn today, whether for better or worse will remain to be seen. Edwards’ betrayal of his peers went, still without either jacket or tie, to court. A settlement agreement was imposed on both Edwards, who arrived prepared for trial, and Williams, with neither entirely satisfied by the agreement: Edwards will repay Williams approximately half of the amount that Williams paid in property payments for the real property of which Edwards enjoys the benefit. One payment of a thousand dollars ($1,000.) is due [and has been paid] immediately. The next payment will be due two years from now, with regular payments to begin at that time … the settlement is not much of a deal for Williams, who, by going to trial and winning the case—which Judge Knoblock apparently intimated to Edwards would happen—would have been obligated to pay the $400,000 mortgage owed to the Eternal Life Bible Institute (ELBI) for real property worth far less in Michigan’s present real estate market.
Williams did not arrive in court prepared for trial—oh, personally, he was prepared, very well prepared, but his attorney had concluded that he needed only one witness, Paul Drieman, who did not show and actually refused to come. Thus, Williams did not have the witness he needed to put ELBI back into the case; so the case was reduced to the simple manner of collecting a debt. Edwards has no money. His financial records apparently indicated that though he has taken in a large amount of money since summer 2004, he has nothing available from which he could pay Williams; that he, Edwards, is approximately $60,000 in arrears to ELBI and the property is subject to foreclosure. If Williams would have proceeded to trial and won his case, he, Williams, would have assumed immediate responsibility for the payments that are in arrears. And presently, Williams does not have assets from which he could have made these payments, nor was it his desire to make these payments. The ministry of which he was a part in 2004 was “killed” by Edwards’ deceit and fraudulent acts in 2004. That ministry cannot be resumed. The goodwill that it had is no more.
The settlement is the best that could be made of a bad deal. Williams, Drieman, and Frankford did not want a $420,000 mortgage to ELBI after paying off approximately the $250,000 ELBI still owed to the 754th and to the Babcocks. The $250,000 was near the present market value of the property although Edwards managed to have the local township assign a taxable value to the real property of about $600,000, with most of this value placed on the two parcels Edwards will be most reluctant to sell.
Even though Williams, Drieman, and Frankford did not want the $420,000 mortgage to ELBI and had so expressed their desires to Edwards who was doing the actual negotiating with ELBI, they signed the Purchasing Agreement of 28 April 2004 with that mortgage amount in the Agreement—they signed without reading the Agreement. They were rushed into signing. They trusted Edwards to have prepared an Agreement that reflected their desires, and they were deceived, which is not a legal excuse for reneging on paying the $420,000 mortgage.
To make a case
of fraud against Edwards, nothing more is needed than the documents that
Edwards has filed in
Edwards continues as an individual who has been marked as one to be avoided; he remains unrepentant and someone who will take financial advantage of a disciple. And by signing the court imposed settlement agreement with Williams, he admits no wrongdoing but he acknowledges the falseness of his recent claims that the moneys Williams paid in property payments were contributions to his ministry. He acknowledged what he had previously written: he owed Williams money, and he had not repaid any of that money even though he said he would in a 2005 letter to Williams.
serves as a living schism to separate false from genuine disciples. If a
disciple cannot see that what Edwards did is wrong, then this disciple is not
troubled by sin and though counted among the many who have been called, he or
she shall not be numbered among those chosen (Matt 22:14). The disciple who is
not troubled by what Edwards has done certainly does not sigh and cry about the
abominations committed within
Edwards seeks financial support from whomever will give him money, and it isn’t just angels that are looking to see who donates to him.
The commentaries about what has happened here at Port Austin will remain in place, for the case of the missing trustees has not yet concluded.
*One action was dismissed, but will be refiled.