Atlanta magazine :: November 2009 :: Reporter's Notebook
November 2009

Reporter’s Notebook

Here are some notes from Thomas Lake’s sources for “The Debtor”:

 Illustration by Oliver Munday
The first paragraph comes from interviews with Verna and Dana.

Darwin’s age comes from the autopsy report, which also mentions the tattoo. I read the police report as well. It describes the knife.

The cause of death is from the autopsy report.

These were Dana’s words about Darren: “He threw a rope toward the sky and tried to pull down a star.”

Dana talked about the mobile home by the Mississippi.

Verna told about the briefcase and the T-shirt and the blazer.

Dana told about Darren begging his father to stay.

Verna told about the change and the groceries and Sesame Street.

Dana and Verna told about the thumbsucking.

Dana told about the Rubik’s Cube and the outdoor adventures.

Verna told about the stock tables and the move to Marietta.

Dana and Verna told about the Robusty Light Company.

Dana told about the pool party.

Dr. Yamma Brown, Darren’s ex-wife, said Darren told her he had played semi-pro ball and then been a replacement player after going to Loyola and pledging at Tulane. She saw the K brand.

For Loyola, I spoke with James Shields, a communications coordinator. “We found no record of Darren Lumar in our system,” he said.

For Tulane, I called the registrar’s office at 504-865-5231. An employee I spoke with said they have no record of a Darren Lumar with a date of birth anywhere near 6/15/70. They have a Darren Lumar with a much different birthdate, but he was never enrolled in any classes.

A spokeswoman for Kappa Alpha Psi said in an e-mail she could find no record that Darren Lumar had ever been a member.

Dana told about the handshake and the tobacco.

Dana and Chris talked about the thrift-store ties.

Dana told about the holes in Darren’s shoes.

Yamma told the story of how she and Darren met.

Darren’s birthdate is provided on many official documents in my possession.

I obtained copies of the judge’s order on the Ford F-150; the expired warrant, and the car-crash complaint. Strangely, it names the defendant as “Darren Lumar a/k/a Dana Lumar.” I asked Dana about this and he assured me it was not him. I believe him.

Yamma confirmed that she is the youngest of the six children named in James Brown’s will. I also obtained thousands of pages of court documents from South Carolina, including Brown’s will itself.

Brown died in 2006. I have a copy of the death certificate.

In court documents, an independent trustee estimated the value at $86 million.

Yamma told about what Darren did for her and Sydney.

Verna can recall the exchange with Darren.

I saw a copy of the item from Jet.

I reviewed the land records on the Lumar house.

Yamma talked about how Darren spoiled Sydney.

Darren’s 2000 income was listed in a subsequent bankruptcy filing, which I read.

Darren’s job with HyperDynamics was described in a press release that was archived in the Nexis database.

The Houston Chronicle ran a brief item on the falling stock price of HyperDynamics.

See Darren’s company bio.

For more on the University of Devonshire, see this report.

I called the registrar’s office at Mercer to confirm Yamma’s degree.

Yamma talked about the Tiffany jewelry. She can confirm that Carrington was born in 2001.

I saw the landscaper’s lien affidavit and the Sam’s Club court document.

Yamma said she had been told Darren’s heart attack was caused by stress. Dana talked about the flirtation.

I have the bankruptcy records.

Yamma talked about the thumbsucking and Darren’s increasingly strange behavior.

I have the police report from the Elorian Landers incident and the press release on the deal between Darren and Landers. I saw the court records and the probation officer’s report.

I reviewed the affidavit of foreclosure and the sheriff’s report.

I reviewed all the court records in Dr. Steve Ams’ suit against Lumar. They include the story of the precious-metals deal and a copy of the contract between Ams and Lumar. Copies of the checks are also included.

For information on the kind of company Lumar Worldwide said it was, see this.

I saw the court records from Luis and Christine Gonzalez.

The tax information is mentioned in one of the bankruptcy filings.

I saw the Cigna lawsuit and the Wesley Woods Pools lien claim.

Yamma confirmed the Lumars had a rottweiler named Risha. I reviewed the Grand Parkway court documents.

I have the bankruptcy documents.

Dana talked about moving Darren from Texas.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported more than once on the demographics of Sandstone Estates. I visited the subdivision and saw the house. The current resident told me it had 30-foot ceilings.

I reviewed official land records for the house.

The process servers from Texas are mentioned in the Cigna suit.

I obtained copies of Yamma’s first divorce petition and subsequent dismissal.

Yamma talked about what she did to get Darren to stop sucking his thumb.

Dana said Darren sometimes sucked his thumb during business meetings.

I have a Pinnacle brochure, which shows Darren and the company offices. A former Pinnacle official who spoke on condition of anonymity gave me more details about the company’s inner workings.

A spokeswoman for BearingPoint, a former subsidiary of KPMG, confirmed the lease agreement with Pinnacle and said the rent was delinquent.

Dana told me about Darren’s self-nickname and what it meant.

The freelance television producer is mentioned in a transcript of court proceedings involving Darren Lumar and several female employees. I’ll refer to this again later.

Steele told me about Rev. Jackson and the $6,000 check.

I reviewed Darren’s proposal for rebuilding New Orleans.

“Only a few actually worked for Pinnacle” is a conclusion I reached after closely reading the list and calling whoever I could. Steven Cady says he never worked for them. So do Greg Stimson and Evan Schmutz. Pete Racelis was in charge of a company called China Wireless. Jeff McElnea says he never met Darren. So do Russell Nype and his wife, Judy Munroe.

Yamma talked about the Media & Entertainment division and said it never got off the ground.

I have copies of the Land Rover repossession documents.

I have the federal court records from Takesian’s wire-fraud case.

I have copies of the Mercedes repossession documents.

I have the federal court records from LaFrance’s wire-fraud case. A judge’s opinion mentions the previous money-laundering conviction.

The Boston Globe reported on LaFrance’s connection with Swindall.

Cady and Schmutz are among those who confirmed what Darren said Pinnacle did.

Schmutz was with the online clearinghouse.

Cady had the debit cards.

My anonymous source mentioned the African chieftains.

All of the above-mentioned entrepreneurs—especially Cady and Schmutz—talked about the Wachovia bond.

Cady is one of the main people working on the lawsuit.

Cady and Schmutz talked about the supposed Wachovia reps. So did John Varsames, a Florida developer.

Cady is among those who saw Darren’s electronic presentation on the bond trading.

Many of the details in the next section come from photographs of the event.

I reviewed the official property records, and a court order showing what Darren agreed to pay for the house.

Verna told me how she felt about Darren’s possessions. She can be seen here.

Dana is on the left of this picture.

Steve Ewing is in this picture.

Information on Wade Ford is here.

John Applewhite can be seen here.

Applewhite’s website

Robb Pitts can be seen with Darren and Yamma here.

Robb Pitts told me about his encounters with Darren.

Darren told Dana and Verna that Democrats take too much of your money.

Picture of Morial as the guest of honor

Morial’s Urban League bio

Morial puts an arm around Verna

I found Morial’s salary in official tax documents that the Urban League submitted to the government. They were collected at

Morial stands in front of the fireplace

Holds up the Journal

I spoke with Conway. The blog post is here.

The Simmons press release is here.

Verna told me about the phone call from Darren.

Yamma told me about Darren’s apology to her father.

The WSB item is here.

All five women are mentioned in the previously-cited court transcript. I also obtained a police report filed by one of them.

The exchange between Gardner and the counselor comes from the transcript.

I obtained the plea documents.

The receptionist and her parole officer are mentioned in the court transcript. Through the Georgia Department of Corrections and people who knew her, I independently confirmed her manslaughter conviction.

Schmutz said his company paid Pinnacle $150,000.

Out of embarrassment, the businessman who lost his home asked not to be identified by name. So did the woman who took a job at a doctor’s office.

To see the Pinnacle website, go here, and click on the December 9, 2006 version of the site.

Information on Brown’s death comes from his death certificate.

I read the will in the court file, which also included an inventory of his personal property.

In a subsequent motion contesting the settlement, court-appointed trustees provided an estimated value of Brown’s assets.

For a note on how the trust was to be divided, see this, which mentions the needy students.

The AJC covered the immediate contesting.

Levenson’s bio is here.

I have court documents showing that Levenson represented Darren Lumar.

I have the police report, as well as a note from Yamma explaining why she and Darren fought that night.

I also have a note in which Yamma admits to the stabbing but says it was done in self-defense.

The AJC covered the indictment.

Discussions on Darren’s negotiations with Buddy Dallas—and the splintering factions—are included in the South Carolina court file.

I have the police report that was filed when a cop helped Yamma get her clothes from the house.

The text messages were included in a court file on the Lumars’ divorce.

I have a copy of the dismissal order and an e-mail from the District Attorney’s office explaining the dismissal.

Dana told me his theory.

I saw some of the footage from the McNary interview.

Yamma’s claim about losing one job and having another offer rescinded was filed in court documents.

I have a copy of the custody decree.

Dana is the source for the next three paragraphs.

Bone Breaker’s entry is the tenth one on this page.

I spoke with the new landlord, Kenneth Daniels.

He made those wild claims to Kevin Trice, head of the homeowners association there. Trice witnessed many of these pretenders, the ones losing their Jaguars and Bentleys, and he disbelieved what Darren said.

Neighbors who remember the block party include Michael Bang and Bill Waters. Trice was there too.

Trice confirmed the next paragraph.

Verna said he called her that night.

Yamma told me what happened at the drugstore, and about the performance at Carnegie Hall.

For data on the moon, visit this website.

The silver Mercedes is mentioned in the police report; Trice can confirmed that Darren was driving one. I visited the complex and saw how the high walls of the townhouses formed the stucco canyon.

The iPhone and BlackBerry are mentioned in the police report. Yamma confirmed he had both of these phones.

The $4,000 cash is mentioned in the medical examiner’s investigative summary.

The man in the hooded sweatshirt is mentioned in the police report.

Trice and Waters said Darren crashed and then apparently waking up.

The Central Buckhead Townhomes are at 3541 Roswell Road. I did the measuring on Google Maps.

The police report says the first 911 call came in at 2153. The medical examiner’s investigative summary says Darren was admitted at 2209.

Yamma was told by hospital workers that Darren said to call his wife.

Dana confirmed the next paragraph.

The autopsy report lists the gunshot wounds.

Dana talked about the tattoos and the graves and the strangeness of the fifth wound.

Yamma and Dana talked about the dwindling blood pressure.

Verna talked about the debts being wiped away.

Lt. Keith Meadows of the Atlanta Police Department told me about the difficulty of the investigation.

The Brown settlement was covered by the Associated Press, among others. I read the trustees’ objection.

In the divorce file, there is a document in which Darren admits owing Varsames $275,000.