County completes abatement of Centralia hoarder’s property

September 16, 2013 


The figures associated with Lewis County’s 10-year battle against Centralia hoarder Victor Bonagofski seem straight from a book of can-you-believe-it trivia facts.

Most recently: 194 hulk vehicles, 956 tires, 42 tons of solid waste and 38 tons of loose scrap steel had to be hauled away from 4020 Harrison Avenue in Centralia before a grass and dirt field - seen only a handful of times in the last 10 years - was revealed.

For the four-week cleanup of the property managed by Bonagofski, Lewis County seeks approximately $16,500, according to court documents.

Bonagofski, for his part, has made his own reimbursement demand: $394.2 billion. Lewis County, by Bonagofski’s estimate, owes him $1 per second, for each second from July 20, 2004, to April 8, 2013, for wasting his time; and $1 for each vehicle, appliance, screw, nut, bolt, nail, piece of cardboard, piece of scrap metal and lumber removed from his two Centralia-area properties.

Lewis County first took legal action against Bonagofski in 2004. His case has been contested, intermittently, for more than a decade.

Over the years, Lewis County has abated Bonagofski’s property on three occasions. Bills sent to Bonagofski - which were never paid - totaled more than $100,000.

A turning point in the drawn-out battle came in March, when a court authorized Lewis County to remove the solid waste and hulk vehicles from 4020 Harrison and to apply any proceeds from the sale of those materials to the cost of abatement.

The judgment, the County Commission said, was the first step toward foreclosure, the county’s ultimate goal. Following the court’s ruling, Lewis County hired recycling company Price Enterprises to execute the abatement.

In their contract, the county and Price agreed that after removing the waste, Price would keep the materials and any money made from selling them.

The lower of two responsive bidders, Price paid Lewis County $5,775 for the job, according to court documents. In all likelihood, that sum will be applied to the county’s reimbursement demand, which would bring its claim against Bonagofski down to approximately $10,700.

A hearing on the matter is set for Friday, Oct. 11, at 9:30 a.m. in Lewis County Superior Court. Bonagofski - a man well known for his daily bike route, during which he collects cardboard and other discarded material - already is in a web of legal entanglements.

On July 21, Bonagofski appointed Keith Crawford trustee of his estate. According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Crawford recently was appointed trustee by another man, Pierce County resident Daniel Haines, who, in a case unrelated to Bonagofski’s, allegedly owes $800,000 in back taxes to the federal government.

In an order denying Haine’s motion to dismiss the suit, the District Court said that Crawford’s appointment - as "trustee" and "authorized representative for the U.S. Treasury" - is unlawful.

According to court documents, Crawford, on Haines’ behalf, recently filed a handwritten note that attempts to charge $799,096.38 to the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. Bonagofski’s Reynolds Avenue property is owned by the Golden Unicorn Family Trust, of which Bonagofski and friends Raymond Leo Jarlik-Bell and Jack Norton are trustees.

Jarlik-Bell helped establish the Unicorn trust - as well as the Pisces Family Trust, which owns the Harrison property - several years ago, according to Bonagofski.

In March, Jarlik-Bell, a former Yelm resident, was convicted in U.S. District Court of five counts of filing false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, 15 counts of assisting in filing false tax returns, three counts of mail fraud and one count of criminal contempt, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison, three years of supervised release and $705,276 in restitution. Bonagofski, Crawford and Jarlik-Bell appear to share similar political views: Each has argued, through court documents, that government is crooked and illegitimate.

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