Willis Carto archive

Including information about his associates

‘Fifth Amendment Willie’ Has Another Bad Day in Court (February 27, 1998)

Willis and Elisabeth Carto, two of the defendants found to owe IHR’s parent corporation more than $11 million, are starting to crack under the pressure of the collection efforts.

Last week (Friday, February 20) during a mandatory settlement conference on four of the remaining lawsuits between Carto and IHR’s parent corporation, Legion for the Survival of Freedom (LSF), Carto showed definite signs of nervousness, as he attempted to wiggle out of appearing at his first debtor’s examination to be held today, February 27, offering to trade first one lawsuit and then another in hopes of either postponing his debtor’s examination for 45 days or even permanently. At one point, he also offered one of his bogus lawsuits in exchange for delaying wife Elisabeth Carto’s debtor’s examination by 10 days. Who says chivalry is dead?

His efforts were to no avail, however, and this morning they were scheduled to appear in court or risk contempt citations. As she has before at critical times, Elisabeth called in sick. Judge Maino, noting that proper notice had not been given to LSF/IHR attorneys, issued a bench (arrest) warrant for Elisabeth.

First, however, LSF/IHR attorney Bill Hulsy made a motion to force Carto’s attorney to set a date certain for reviewing documents pertaining to Carto’s finances. Carto’s attorney, Brian Urtnowski, had been stalling for months by means fair and foul, and in front of Judge Maino, Urtnowski compounded his culpability by lying repeatedly to the Judge about the reasons that the examination of documents had not gone forward as the court had previously ordered. Maino found Urtnowski’s lies unconvincing, and ordered that the examination go forward without fail on March 18.

Next up were two motions by our attorneys to compel Carto to abide by other court orders. Urtnowski argued that Carto would not comply because doing so would involve revealing financial information. Revealing this financial information, argued Urtnowski, would jeopardize Carto because of an criminal investigation ongoing in Switzerland into the disappearance of millions of dollars meant for LSF/IHR when it was under Carto’s control.

This argument is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, Carto has claimed in his 148-page RICO lawsuit that LSF/IHR staff had defamed Carto by characterizing some of his actions as criminal. Today, however, Carto and his attorney told the court that Carto would take the Fifth in response to any questions about assets or finances, out of fear that answering questions would provide criminal investigators with the information they are seeking against Carto (and possibly others).

Second, it is noteworthy because Carto has already lost the suit in which he is now claiming protection. Normally, the Fifth Amendment is not (and cannot be) invoked by judgment debtors.

Third, it is noteworthy because the Cartos have on previous occasions answered many of these same questions already, so while we need to ask them again for confirmation, the information is already in the public record.

Fourth, authorities in Switzerland presumably have access to a great deal of information simply by virtue of being able to contact financial institutions and track transactions. It is unlikely that they would need any information from the Cartos that they could not discover through other sources.

Last but not least, Switzerland does not recognize Fifth Amendment rights.

After issuing the bench warrant for Elisabeth, the debtor’s examination of Carto got underway, in spite of Urtnowski’s insistence that Carto would take the Fifth on virtually all questions. After giving his first, middle, and last names, Willis Allison Carto then took the Fifth on the following topics:

  • Other names he has used;
  • If he has ever used the name J. W. Young;
  • His date of birth;
  • His social security number;
  • If anyone lives at the house in Escondido he has in the past claimed as his residence (and the so-called West Coast office of Liberty Lobby);
  • If anyone else uses the Escondido residence;
  • If he has ever lived at the residence in Escondido;
  • Who owns the residence in Escondido;
  • What bank accounts he has;
  • If he owns a car;
  • The year, make, and model of the car he drives;
  • If he owns any real property;
  • If he owns any jewelry;
  • If he owns any property worth in excess of $500;
  • If he has any property insurance;
  • If he has any country club memberships;
  • If he is a member of any professional organizations;
  • If he has a safe deposit box;
  • If he has any financial accounts in foreign countries;
  • If he owns any bonds;
  • If he holds any patents;
  • The name of his accountant;
  • Where he currently works;
  • If he has made any loans to anyone;
  • If he is a judgment creditor;
  • If there were any tax liens filed against him;
  • His wife Elisabeth’s maiden name;
  • Any marriages he had prior to marrying Elisabeth;
  • Any marriages Elisabeth had prior to marrying Willis;
  • Elisabeth’s bank accounts;
  • Elisabeth’s vehicles;
  • Elisabeth’s assets worth in excess of $500;
  • Elisabeth’s employment;
  • and others.

Of course, no meeting with Carto would be complete without having him lie about something, and today he exceeded his own lofty standard for lying about things that are common knowledge. It is not appropriate to cite details because some of the items Carto lied about are very useful to our future legal maneuvers, but suffice to say that at one point, Carto claimed not to know his own wife’s middle name!

The entire process left Carto obviously rattled, far beyond what we have observed to date. For example, we know that Carto is amazed that the tiny, underfunded, understaffed, overworked LSF/IHR is still around after he has spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of his (and others'?) money to put us out of business. Carto’s hatred of the LSF/IHR and perplexedness concerning our continued existence finally bubbled to the surface after the debtor’s examination ended, as he approached Greg Raven, LSF president, and stated, You must have gotten a generous stipend from David Miscavage. This comment reflects Carto’s demented view that Raven is a Scientologist, and that the Church of Scientology must be helping to finance the LSF/IHR. Both views are utterly false, as are an overwhelming number of the assertions and claims put forward in the RICO lawsuit mentioned above.

If the Cartos are the subject of an intense criminal investigation in Switzerland, as his attorney Brian Urtnowski repeatedly claimed, it would seem that Carto is indeed justified in his preoccupation with its outcome. Whether or not the results of this investigation will be beneficial for the LSF/IHR remains to be seen.

If all goes according to schedule, Willis and Elisabeth will be back in court on April 10, at which time the court will rule on their ridiculous claims of Fifth Amendment protection. LSF/IHR is confident that the court will rule in our favor, and that the Cartos will then be forced to answer questions regarding the whereabouts of the millions of dollars they owe LSF/IHR.