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A federal lawsuit filed Monday in Waco claims a Hearne law firm conspired with State District Judge Robert Stem to steal millions of dollars in property and mineral rights in an elaborate racketeering scheme.
Included among the 18 defendants named in the suit is Hearne City Attorney Brian F. Russ Jr. and James H. McCullough. The two are also partners in their own law firm.
News 3 has spoken with Bryan Russ, Jr. who says, there is no validity to any of the accusations.
Encana Oil & Gas and Leor Energy are also listed as defendants. These companies have reportedly benefited from the transactions made possible by some of the other defendants.
Though not named in the suit, District Court Judge Robert M. Stem, is listed as a co-conspirator who allegedly over time, has aided the defendants in their extortion plots.
News 3 tried to contact Judge Stem for comment, but he has not returned our calls.
The suit alleges that these and other individuals have over the past 15 years, planned and plotted to primarily swindle African Americans, people no longer living in Robertson County and the poor.
The suit claims, dummy companies are reportedly used by the defendants to easily transfer property and mineral rights. While the owners are allegedly contacted, Judge Stem is accused of allowing Russ & McCullough to serve notice to the unknown property owners by placing ads in publications. When the owners fail to come forward, the suit alleges the land is sold at below market value and the money is then deposited in the registry of the court.
After seven years pass and the money goes unclaimed, Judge Stem reportedly awards the funds to one of the dummy companies established by Russ & McCullough.
The four plaintiffs in the case are seeking three times the compensatory damages and punitive damages against the defendants. The plaintiffs are also seeking reasonable attorney fees and costs and order an equitable accounting from the defendants and are seeking to be awarded all they are legally entitled.