Legal Defense – Protecting Property Rights in Anchorage, AK

Fundraising campaign by Frank Pugh
  • US$2,070.00
    raised of $70,000.00 goal
2% Funded
12 Donors
Raised offline: $12,500.00
Total: $14,570.00
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Case Update: 12-Oct-2022

We had a "14-day" trial which commenced on 18-Jan-2022 and concluded with closing statements on 02-Mar-2022. Judge Dani Crosby issued her decision against us (Defendants) on 01-Sep-2022, the very last day before she would start losing pay (Judges have 6-months to close a case before their pay gets reduced). Subsequently, we submitted a Motion for Reconsideration on 10-Oct-2022.

Case Info:

On 22-Mar-2019, Frank Pugh and his wife were served the following complaint:
FRIENDS OF THE STEWART PUBLIC TRAIL, INC. vs. FRANKLIN D. PUGH, JR., OKSANA V. PUGH, CHRISTOPHER MATTHEW CAVANAUGH, and KIMBERLY CAVANAUGH / COMPLAINT TO QUIET TITLE TO PUBLIC NON-MOTORIZED EASEMENT BY PRESCRIPTION (Case No. 3AN-19-05746 Civil). Currently, the trial is scheduled to commence at 9:00 am on 18-Jan-2022 before Judge Dani Crosby in Courtroom 304 of the Nesbett Courthouse.

PayPal Donation link: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=8LK...

Case Summary:

Property rights in Alaska have been under assault for many years, pitting trail vigilantes and anti-development activists against landowners simply attempting to use their properties as they desire within the bounds of the law. Currently, property rights in Potter Valley (Anchorage, AK) are being targeted by a group that has not held a long-term interest in the Mountainside Village Neighborhood area. This group was enabled by an unethical and aggressive Municipality of Anchorage originally led by then Municipality of Anchorage Attorney William D Falsey through then Mayor Berkowitz’s Office. In 2016, MOA Attorney Falsey and his Assistant Municipal Attorneys worked closely with Steve Cleary (Alaska Trails Executive Director) and his sidekick activist attorney Thomas E Meacham. Over time this group morphed into a non-profit, Friends of the Stewart Public Trail Inc, specifically organized in 2018 with Thomas E Meacham serving as its Registered Agent. The sole purpose for creation of this organization was to file a Quiet Title complaint for a Public Prescriptive Pedestrian Easement across our property and a fellow neighbor’s property while attempting to shield its officers and members from personal liability. I have spent countless hours and a significant amount of money on legal fees to protect our property and the traditionally quiet, peaceful, and friendly character of the area neighborhoods which is supported by a majority of the residents. Based on the motions filed, the judge’s ruling that the Presumption of Permissive Use applies, and the nine depositions taken of their witnesses to date; we believe that we will win this case because, at a minimum, they will not be able to demonstrate hostile use, which is a requirement. However, it is not yet over and unfortunately our legal system forces outsized expenditures to defend even winning positions, especially when more than 70 activists have organized against an individual landowner.

I would sincerely appreciate your financial support at any level. I believe this case matters to every property owner in Anchorage because this is not the first time that coercive extortion tactics have been used against property owners. Your support will help ensure that we can fully defend our position and make it more difficult for property rights to be so easily assaulted by vigilante groups in the future.

Thanks in advance, Frank Pugh

Additional Case Details:

Please read on for additional details about this case. I'm Frank Pugh and our family purchased acreage in Anchorage, AK in September 2012 which was about 2-months prior to moving overseas for work in Azerbaijan. Shortly after our return to Anchorage in March 2015, a neighbor to our property entrance in Mountainside Village Subdivision contacted me seeking help with a parking problem that had developed at an intersection near the entry to his driveway. Some people had learned about this area when the Municipality of Anchorage published a proposed park access plan which highlighted our property as a potential entry point. And naturally with the explosive growth of social media during this time, the word quickly spread.

Prior to this point there was a simple gate which precluded motorized vehicle entry but allowed neighbors to walk the area, as had been traditionally allowed by previous landowners. However, at the request of my neighbor next to our gated entrance, and due the fact that I had been recently threatened by a person that had driven from outside the neighborhood when I simply questioned whether or not he was a neighbor, I decided to reinforce the gate in October 2015 to deter people driving from outside the neighborhood from entering the property. The gated entrance had simply become a nuisance which threatened the typically quiet neighborhood environment. The intent was to discourage individuals living outside of the adjacent neighborhoods from driving to this area and illegally parking along the neighborhood streets to enter our property while continue allowing our neighbors to pass through other points on our property.

Several months later on March 3rd, 2016 I received the first letter from then Municipality of Anchorage Attorney William D Falsey threatening legal action if I did not remove the reinforcements that I made to the gate. At this time I sought legal advice to help me determine if the Municipal Attorney was correct, after several months of letter exchanges and additional legal threats in the form of a draft complaint from MOA Attorney Falsey , I met with him and other Municipal Officials for discussions. At the meeting we agreed to form a task force to explore solutions. However, after about 1-year, the Municipality through their chosen agent, Pat Pourchot of Great Land Trust, failed to deliver a proposal and only generated a loosely worded appraisal report in 2017 to which none of the several affected landowners responded, including myself. There was no follow-up by the Municipality of Anchorage and the matter seemed to have faded away.

However, in 2018, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we discovered that the group of people that had been behind this effort all along, had been working covertly with MOA Attorney Falsey and several of his Assistant Municipal Attorney's. We also found that this group was again attempting to get the Municipal Attorney's Office to bring legal action against my family and a property neighbor. When their attempts failed to get the Municipality to file suit against us since there was a newly appointed MOA Attorney Rebecca Windt Pearson in place, this group with the help of their activist attorney Thomas E Meacham formed a non-profit corporation called the Friends of the Stewart Public Trail Inc, in order to shield their members from personal liability and to bring suit against me and one other landowner. On March 22, 2019, the Friends Group served a complaint against us to Quiet Title in order to gain a Public Prescriptive Easement across our property. In the last 2-years of filing motions and depositions, it has become apparent that this group lacks the required elements to acquire a prescriptive easement. However, it is still expensive to defend even a winning position, which is why I am seeking financial support since protecting property rights against this type of attack by a mob extends far beyond my personal interest in this matter.

Additionally, we have had the following politicians enter our properties without permission to apparently snoop around for information and take photos of our properties: Anchorage Assemblyman Christopher Constant (01-Oct-2018 at 17:39), AK State Rep Christopher Birch (01-Oct-2018 at 17:39, now deceased), and AK Rep Jennifer Johnston (06-Apr-2019 at 14:26, now out of office) as documented by photographic evidence included in the photo gallery.

The funds will be used to pay for legal fees including attorney fees and court costs which will help us to fully defend property rights to the end of this litigation. We deposed three of their witnesses in 2020 and six thus far in March & April 2021. Although we believe that the depositions taken to date are adequate to defend our position, we may schedule a couple more depositions in 2021 to expose more facts prior to the trial date.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Best regards,
Frank Pugh

Organizer

Retired Drilling Engineer

Retired Drilling Engineer

Donors

  • Katie Lloyd
  • Donated on Sep 25, 2022
Amount Hidden
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Dec 14, 2021
Amount Hidden
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Dec 13, 2021
  • I appreciate the effort you had put into this fight, and although I miss walking on the Stewart Trail, I wish to keep our neighborhood quiet.

$100.00

No updates for this campaign just yet

Donors & Comments

12 donors
  • Katie Lloyd
  • Donated on Sep 25, 2022
Amount Hidden
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Dec 14, 2021
Amount Hidden
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Dec 13, 2021
  • I appreciate the effort you had put into this fight, and although I miss walking on the Stewart Trail, I wish to keep our neighborhood quiet.

$100.00
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on May 06, 2021
$500.00
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on May 03, 2021
$50.00
  • Kelly Becker
  • Donated on May 02, 2021
  • Sorry you had to go through this!

$200.00
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on May 01, 2021
$100.00
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Apr 26, 2021
Amount Hidden
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Apr 23, 2021
  • You have our support, thank you for your sacrifices and for having the courage to fight this battle.

$100.00
  • Anonymous
  • Donated on Apr 17, 2021
$10.00
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Followers

2 followers
Christina Rosales
DAVID MACDOWELL
US$2,070.00
raised of $70,000.00 goal
2% Funded
12 Donors
Raised offline: $12,500.00
Total: $14,570.00

Help this ongoing fundraising campaign by making a donation and spreading the word.

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