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Former “Fox & Friends” co-host Clayton Morris has fled the U.S. in the middle of several lawsuits involving recent real estate deals.
As first reported by the Indianapolis Star, Morris left his home in Indianapolis to live in a coastal town in Portugal. His wife, Natali Morris, a former MSNBC anchor, wrote several social media posts announcing the family’s decision to leave.
“I am not one of those who rejects America,” she wrote on a personal site that has since been taken down. “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.”
Morris and partner Bert Whalen are currently being sued by investors who purchased properties from real estate investment company, Oceanpointe, and say they were misled about their distressed conditions. At least 35 separate investors said they were led into a Ponzi scheme that, according to the Star, involved Morris and Whalen “covering their tracks by providing fake leases and sending rent checks even though the properties were vacant.”
Since leaving Fox News in 2017, Morris has been working as a real estate promoter in Indianapolis. At one point, Morris also called a $1.4 million house in New Jersey home.
According to The Star’s report, Morris and Whalen sold at least 700 homes in some of Indianapolis’ poorest neighborhoods through Oceanpointe, a company headed by Whalen and affiliated with Morris. The properties were purchased primarily by first-time investors who live outside Indiana and believed that the two men would fix the properties up, find tenants and manage day-to-day business while they would simply receive returns.
California investor Danny Gomes told the Star that he had no idea that the $52,500 investment property he bought had actually burned down. Gomes had hoped to use the proceeds from the property to provide for his newly adopted child and used his retirement funds to make the sale.
The house had burned down four days after Gomes had signed the purchase agreement, a fact which Gomes discovered three months after the sale had closed. He said that neither Morris nor Whalen had told him about the fire. He found out about what had happened after receiving a city order to demolish the property and calling a city inspector.
“[The inspector] sent me some pictures and sure enough, the place was torched,” Gomes told the Star. “It was pretty darn shocking.”
As Gomes and other investors told the Star, the properties that they bought from Oceanpointe were never properly fixed up or managed. Some say they discovered the scheme after receiving code violations and condemnation notices from the city. In a YouTube channel with over 120,000 followers, Morris posts videos with advice on gaining money from investment properties.
As news of the investor complaints broke, Morris has denied all allegations and said he was not directly involved but instead simply made referrals to Whalen’s company, Oceanpointe. He also said he, too, was sickened by the conditions of the homes. No criminal charges have been filed against Morris.
Morris’ wife, who wrote the post announcing their decision to move to Portugal, told the Star that Morris’ “residual fame” as a former Fox anchor earned him unfair blame and scrutiny in an email.
“We have not run from anything,” she told the Star. “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.”
Attorneys representing the investors have a different opinion.
“In my clients’ opinion, innocent people don’t flee the country,” Jynell Berkshire, a real estate attorney who is representing several of the plaintiffs in the suit, also told the Star.
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