US: Ex-Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris leaves country amid fraud allegations, lawsuits - PressFrom - US
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USEx-Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris leaves country amid fraud allegations, lawsuits

02:56  14 july  2019
02:56  14 july  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Ex - Fox & Friends co - host Clayton Morris has left the country amid more than two dozen lawsuits from investors who say he defrauded them in real estate deals involving properties in Indianapolis. Morris , who previously resided in a .4 million home in New Jersey, has moved with his family to

Investors say ex -‘ Fox & Friends ’ host turned them into unwitting slumlords. Clayton Morris , a former Fox News co - host , is accused of selling novice investors uninhabitable rental Attorney Jynell Berkshire says her clients feel they were scammed by former " Fox & Friends " host Clayton Morris .

Ex-Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris leaves country amid fraud allegations, lawsuits© Monica Schipper/Getty Images In 2015, Whalen hooked up with this man, former Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris, who parlayed his large cable news following into a popular online real estate investment business. He pitched his company’s services on a blog, podcast and YouTube channel, where he has more than 100,000 subscribers. Soon, there was a steady supply of out-of-state investors eager to buy distressed Indy properties. Many were managed by Whalen.

INDIANAPOLIS – Ex-Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris has left the country amid more than two dozen lawsuits from investors who say he defrauded them in real estate deals involving properties in Indianapolis.

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If you’re ready to build passive income through smart real estate investing, my turnkey rental company Morris Invest can help. Hi, I’m Clayton . Husband, father of 3, travel addict, former Fox News anchor. And I’m a big fan of this radical idea that everyone should be able to achieve total financial freedom.

Morris, who previously resided in a $1.4 million home in New Jersey, has moved with his family to a coastal resort town in Portugal, according to a Facebook post made by his wife.

In an email to IndyStar, Morris's wife and business partner, former MSNBC anchor Natali Morris, said they plan to continue fighting the lawsuits from abroad. They have denied responsibility for investor losses, instead blaming their Indianapolis business partner Bert Whalen and his company, Oceanpointe.

"We have and continued to take responsibility for all of our legal challenges that came from our relationship with Oceanpointe. We have answered all of our attorney general requests in all states. We have answered all lawsuits," Natali Morris said.

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Clayton Morris , 42, of Florham Park, N.J., is a former co - host of " Fox & Friends " who now runs Morris Morris played a reporter named Clayton Benjamin Morris in the 2000 film "Deception," a In an unrelated 2011 lawsuit , Whalen was sued in Marion County by Matthew D. Knee over real

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"We have not run from anything," she added. "We continue to show up for this until the last lawsuit is dismissed and it is clear that we neither had the money from Oceanpointe investors nor did we defraud anyone."

Previously reported: Investors say ex-‘Fox & Friends’ host turned them into unwitting slumlords

But investors and their attorneys expressed concern about the move. They worry it could make it more difficult to serve Morris with legal notices and could complicate efforts to retrieve any damages if a judge finds in their favor.

"In my clients' opinion, innocent people don’t flee the country," said Jynell Berkshire, an Indianapolis real estate attorney who is representing several investors.

No criminal charges have been brought against Morris or Whalen. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Indiana and New Jersey declined to confirm or deny any investigation.

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Fox & Friends is a daily morning conservative news/talk program that airs on Fox News Channel, hosted by Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade.

Morris was honored by his co - hosts and crew with a montage of his best moments from the show, after which he thanked his co-workers Abby Huntsman and Pete Hegseth and discussed his future plans.

In a lengthy post Thursday on her website, Natali Morris said the legal problems, animosity from investors and negative news coverage drove the family's decision to leave the country.

"I am not one of those who rejects America," she wrote. "We had a good life there. But my husband and I have had a hard few years in our business and this collective soul challenge forced us to question everything."

She said her husband was unfairly blamed because of his "residual 'fame' from his former career as a news anchor."

"But America is polarized and if you can write a headline about a Fox News guy doing something wrong, it will get clicked on in order to reinforce people’s conviction bias, one way or another," she wrote.

She said her husband has taken accusations and media coverage particularly hard.

"Watching him endure this has felt like what I would imagine it is like to watch him endure chemotherapy," she said. "I wish I could take it from him. I wish I could fix it. I wish it were me instead. I carry a pain with me knowing that he is in pain and it is with me always. His health began to suffer. He began to withdraw emotionally and it was hard on our family. We both knew that we had to make a change if we wanted to survive."

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IndyStar reported in March that investors were accusing Morris of running a Ponzi scheme with Whalen's help. Together they sold at least 700 homes in some of Indianapolis's most troubled neighborhoods.

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Investors suing Morris — mostly out-of-state real estate novices — claim he sold them houses with a promise to rehab them, find tenants and manage the properties. All they had to do, according to a video on his popular YouTube channel, was sit back and collect the rent checks.

But those rehabs didn't happen or were superficial, the investors claim. They accuse Morris and Whalen of covering their tracks by providing fake leases and sending rent checks even though the properties were vacant. Many of the investors say they only discovered the truth when they began receiving code violations and condemnation notices from the city.

Some investors say the scheme turned them into unwitting slumlords. An IndyStar investigation published last month found tenants who said they suffered through dangerous and disgusting conditions in properties bought, sold or managed by Whalen's companies.

Morris has denied the fraud allegations, saying he merely referred investors to Whalen. He claimed he was not responsible for managing the properties and has said he was sickened to learn of tenants living in abject conditions.

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Ms. Tantaros, a former co - host of “The Five,” could not be reached for comment. She was recently reported to be representing herself in the case. Fox News denied Ms. Tantaros’s allegations in that lawsuit and maintained that the host was let go for violating a major part of her contract: She did not

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Whalen has also denied any wrongdoing.

Jennifer Drobac, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said moving out of the U.S. does not absolve a defendant in a lawsuit of their legal responsibility.

But it also is true that Morris does not have to return to the country to defend himself if he has an attorney here representing him.

However, if he simply tried to ignore a lawsuit and not engage local counsel, she said the plaintiff could win a default judgment against him.

And because these are civil cases, rather than criminal, a court would not take action to extradite a defendant to bring them to trial.

Follow Tim Evans and Tony Cook on Twitter: @starwatchtim and @indystartony

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Ex-Fox & Friends co-host Clayton Morris leaves country amid fraud allegations, lawsuits

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