Thursday, January 31, 2013

Party To Mediation Shoots Three People Before Suicide

A lawsuit over $20,000 worth of office furniture may be a factor in a deadly shooting in north-central Phoenix on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 according to court records.

Arthur Douglas Harmon is suspected of shooting three people outside the entrance of the three-story building at 7310 N. 16th St. Police say two of the victims — Mark Hummels, a partner with Osborn Maledon, and Steven Singer, president and CEO of Fusion Contact Centers — were the targets. Singer, 48, was killed. Hummels, 43, is in critical condition.

The third victim, 32-year-old Nichole Hampton, was not seriously injured.

All three men had been in a morning mediation session at the law office of DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, trying to resolve the case. Hummels was Singer’s attorney.

The financial dispute between Singer and Harmon, who operated a business called Redback Design since 1990, dated to February 2012.

Harmon had been hired to move and refurbish furniture and cubicles in one of Fusion’s Santa Maria, Calif., facilities. It was a contract worth $47,000, according to court documents. But not all the work could be completed because the furniture wasn’t a brand that could be rehabbed.

Harmon and Singer exchanged lengthy e-mails about the contract.

Singer wanted to pay Harmon for the work he had completed and get a refund for what Harmon had been paid for but not done, according to the Fusion CEO’s e-mail submitted to the court. Singer wrote that he wanted to settle the disagreement and “move on,” according to one e-mail.

Harmon was paid $30,000 and then filed a lawsuit in April to get the rest of the amount from his original contract, plus $20,000 in damages, even though he acknowledged in a March e-mail to Singer that he couldn’t complete all of the work.

As the lawsuit dragged on, Harmon and son Stefan Harmon completed several real-estate transactions. Stefan Harmon paid $26,000 cash for his mother and father’s Phoenix house in July, according to the Information Market’s research of public real-estate records. The home was then valued at more than $100,000. That is the home on North 28th Street that authorities surrounded and searched after the shooting.

In September, Stefan Harmon borrowed $180,000 from his parents, who used the house as collateral, even though Stefan legally owned it. On Jan. 7, Fusion filed suit, alleging that Arthur Harmon, his wife, Ivett Huska, and son Stefan were party to a fraudulent transfer of the same home.

On Jan. 8, a motion for summary judgment filed by Fusion Contract Centers called for Harmon to pay Fusion $20,184 to settle the cases.

Harmon didn’t have an attorney.

Police say he fled the scene of the shooting, firing at someone who gave chase, police said. He remained at large late Wednesday.

Three others were taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries after the mid-morning shooting.

Singer, 48, was a father of two. His company, Fusion, is a call-center staffing agency based in Scottsdale with sites in California and Nevada. No one answered the phone Wednesday afternoon at the Scottsdale location.

Harmon has had previous financial troubles.

In 2005, Harmon and his wife faced $219,000 in debts, most of it to banks and credit-card companies. The couple filed for bankruptcy, which proved to be “a fairly mundane case,” said Lothar Goernitz, a trustee who helped resolve the matter.

At the time, the couple had three vehicles, including a 1974 Datsun. Collectively, the vehicles were worth less than $5,000.

While the bankruptcy was closed a year later, Harmon’s money problems apparently were not.

In 2005, Harmon filed court papers saying he had $43 in his checking account. By 2012, he testified as part of the lawsuit that was in mediation that he had just $17.
The Republic)

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