Musick: `I was defamed’ |

Musick: `I was defamed’

Jeremy Heiman

In the latest chapter in the W/J Ranch saga, developer John Musick has accused Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland of defaming his character.

And he has threatened to back up that accusation with a defamation lawsuit.

The threat is in reaction to remarks Ireland made during a meeting of the county commissioners last Friday, when the BOCC downzoned property Musick wants to fill with high-density affordable housing. In a letter addressed to Ireland and faxed to The Aspen Times (see page 9), Musick says he will file a defamation action unless Ireland publicly retracts the statements.

Musick, who was not at the meeting, said he was informed of Ireland’s statements after the meeting.

“What set me off is I got the meeting notes from the attorneys who were there,” he said. “Apparently he brought my beloved wife Mindy’s name into it.” Musick said that was one thing he could not accept.

“I started looking at other things he said,” Musick added, “comparing me to [embezzler] Michael Wise, a convicted felon. Fuck him. I’ll see his ass in court. The guy’s a disgrace to the bar.”

Wise, who is facing federal charges for embezzling some $6 million from investors in Cornerstone Investments, has actually never been convicted of a crime. He was cleared of wrongdoing in the Silverado Savings and Loan scandal in 1988, but was banned from ever working again as a banker.

Ireland, an attorney, called Musick a hostage taker, saying he has threatened the pocketbooks of present homeowners at W/J. In a March 19 letter, Musick told owners of the existing 62 homes at W/J that construction will not resume and deep holes and piles of dirt around their houses will remain forever unless the county is stopped from downzoning the property.

The commissioner said Musick is attempting to hold the commissioners and their families hostage by means of a lawsuit he filed last year after the BOCC denied Musick’s application to build 778 affordable units. Musick’s letter threatening the defamation action tells Ireland and the other commissioners he will drop the existing suit that names them individually if they reverse the downzoning of the property.

Ireland also said Musick has written threatening letters to county staff members. Pitkin County Manager Suzanne Konchan said Wednesday the letters were sent to Housing Director Dave Tolen and Deputy Planning Director Lance Clarke. She said the letter to Clarke indicated Musick would make it difficult for Clarke to get a job in the future.

Musick told the Times Wednesday he no longer cared what Ireland called him. “Let the judge sort it out,” he said.

“He’s got himself a lifetime enemy. As long as he lives, I’m gonna be in his face.”

Ireland was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

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