Thursday, April 17, 2014

From Friends to Enemies - The Joe Stowell, Sr. Family

I'll try to make this long story short. I first met Joe when he was basketball coach at Armington and I was basketball coach at Heyworth. When I left coaching, I became a salesman wit a major company and a basketball referee. Joe hired me to referee games at Robertson Fieldhouse where Joe was then freshman coach. Joe encouraged me to become active in Bradley basketball. I was later to become a member of the Bradley Chiefs Club. I  was elected Vice-President and next in line to be President of the club until Joe was terminated and some resented that I was not a Bradley graduate.  I also led the fundraising drive that raised the most money in the club's history. Dick Versace succeeded Joe and fund-raising went ballistic.

When Joe became head coach at Bradley, I was among Joe's strongest supporters. I was one of four (Jim Maloof, Bill Roecker and I believe Grant Bush) who met with Dr. Jerry Abegg, President of the University to try to save Joe's job when so many felt he needed to be replaced. Dr. Abegg agreed to let Joe coach another year. When Joe didn't do some of the things Dr.Abegg requested he do, strong alumni convinced Abegg to terminate Joe.

I supported Joe to the end of his coaching career which came after he was removed or retired from being head coach of women's basketball. I had hired Joe, Jr. and Jim; later gave them my stock portfolio, hired Bradley graduates that Joe recommended; Dana Davis, Bob Humbles, David Booth, etc. Joe and I met for coffee frequently, went fishing, went to various places to play the horses or poker. Joe was later arrested in a high stakes gambling group, one in which I had never participated.

When I was elected to the Peoria County Board at the age of 75, I turned my stock portfolio over to Joe, Jr. Jim had handled some of my investments but when he and several others left en-masse to join another brokerage, I turned down Jim's request to transfer my funds to his new firm.

Jim was not happy

But Joe, Jr. promised me great returns, 20% a year on my investments so I foolishly transferred my stocks and laterr my Annuity to him. I was given an $11,000 bonus to do so. Soon my investments started to go downhill. Joe, Jr. increased my 5000 share investment in World Com to 12,000 shares. He recommended Adelphia highly so I bought. Both went broke. I was losing money on buys and sells rather rapidly.

I also quickly had paper losses in my Annuity totaling over $30,000.. I became quite worried and met with Joe, Sr. several times. He complained that he was not making enough money even though as an example he charged $1000 commission on a sale of 2000 shares of GE.

I became suspicious of what type of investments Joe, Jr. was making so I called his companies home office. They made a review and said my investments were classed as "high risk". I had specifically told Joe, Jr. that even though I checked the "aggressive bar" on the contract at his suggestion, that this was my fall back money as I had no pension. That aggressive meant a winning style and always has had  that meaning was interpreted by Joe, Jr., to permit him to make risky investments. After all, it wasn't his money. I also told him I was devoted to job I was elected to and did not have the time and energy to research investments for my money.

I depended on his recommendations to be in my best interests.

I made the decision to transfer my account, leaving the Annuity with his firm. Joe, Jr. was quite upset. But it was my money and I was more upset. Considering the amount of money I had lost both in dollars and on paper, I took my files to an attorney who recommended suing both Joe, Jr. and his company. The case was later settled  out of court and I'm told Joe., Jr. eventually left that brokerage. Why he left that position is only speculative.

Some years later, Joe,Jr, filed for bankruptcy. It is quite unusual that a broker handling other people's money, goes bankrupt. It also became apparent that none of the family wanted to hear my side of the story.

My too late advise to others is seldom put your savings in the hands of friends but in the hands of those with the most proven track record; a mistake I regret making more than once.

So it came as some surprise that my arrest, first ever, in Sarasota on a "staged" misdemeanor, hit all the news media in Peoria within a couple of days. I was released within a couple of hours from non-confinement on $120 bond. Eight months later, I have yet to have a hearing and none in sight. Unfortunately, I had to hire an attorney but he is very capable as he was once States Attorney for Sarasota.

This is where the real revenge of the Stowell's began. Joe, Sr.called me and asked to have back a low cost Bradley Brave wrist watch he had given me 30 or more years ago. He also suggested I had borrowed a shotgun from him 40 years ago and never returned it. He had admitted he had lent the shotgun to others. Then I was able to secure a copy of an email Jim Stowell had sent to all the medias in Peoria of a clipping that appeared in Sarasota's version of the "National Inquirer". He wrote that the clipping had been sent to him by his brother Jerry, now a teacher in a Sarasota middle school. Jerry Stowell, some may recall, was head basketball coach at Metamora High School before he took a middle school teaching position in Sarasota. Records of  why he left  Metamora are confidential.

Jim tried his hand as being an elected governmental official and was not successful.

My "activist" shoulders are broad. Few know the research I do on what is happening in this community, the State of Illinois, my country and world events.  I earned no "brownie" points on my position as to why the ball park would have trouble succeeding, why the RiverPlex would strain Peoria Park District's budget while competing against private enterprise with taxpayer dollars, or why the PRM would be an attendance and financial failure, why Peoria County shouldn't own the museum building, etc. Or why Peoria School District would suffer from outside interference like the State and Federal government, a too large unpaid board, and an unforgiving union. (Read my dozens of blogs on the subject).

Few know the real story of my life. But many are interested in reading about other people's misfortunes. (The medias have made me their favorite "whipping boy" especially the Journal Star) Few suffer personal attacks for things that remain hidden in their "closets". Yes, my judgment at times may not be as good as I get older, hard of hearing and with less energy and at times, patience. Many of  my successes are largely forgotten and overshadowed by half-truths and personal attacks on me. I still have many friends but many friends and supporters are either dead, moved out of the area or are in some type of home they may not prefer.

Some of my "yesterdays" were not what I envisioned and  "tomorrow" may not be what I envisioned either. I am not alone. However, I am always ready to start a new day, hopefully optimistic, but wary of the future. It's hard to believe I will be too soon approaching 90 years on this planet. This blog that I thought long and hard about posting,  is my 2500th+ post since learning how to use a computer in year 2004.. All older posts are available to read by using the search bar appearing on all my posts.

When I was a 19 year old farm boy just drafted into Post WW2, I had no idea that one day I would attain to being one of Peoria's most successful business man (my name has stood on a business I founded for more than 50 years) a political servant and ending my days in some sort of personal and media generated notoriety.

Good grief!

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