An investment adviser and his wife say someone forged signatures in an attempt to steal the Van Dusen mansion.
Trevor and Gina Cook allege that Oxford Group Advisors, a firm formed by former associate Bo Beckman, filed phony deed documents to gain title of their Van Dusen mansion. Trevor Cook and Beckman used to have offices in the building at 1900 LaSalle Av. S., Minneapolis.
The convoluted tale of a Twin Cities foreign currency investment program just took another twist -- one that throws into question the ownership of a landmark Minneapolis mansion.
For those coming in late, the program involves Pat Kiley, a Burnsville talk radio host who brought hundreds of listeners into foreign currency investments, ostensibly to protect their money from market chaos. The strategy was said to be managed by Trevor Cook, a 37-year-old Minneapolis investment adviser with a trail of regulatory sanctions and lawsuits. Bo Beckman, who claimed to be among the nation's top money managers, steered investors into the program in exchange for "rebates."
But in July, tens of millions of dollars went missing. Last month, Beckman, 39, of Plymouth, sued Cook, demanding an accounting.
Now Cook is claiming that officers or agents associated with a company that appears to have been started by Beckman have tried to steal the Van Dusen mansion from him and his wife, Gina.
Beckman, through attorney Andrew Luger, denies that.
The 117-year-old mansion on LaSalle Avenue in Minneapolis resembles a Gothic castle with its thick, pink limestone walls. It served as a stately emblem for the companies that operated from there. They include Oxford Global Partners, Oxford Global Advisors and the Oxford Private Client Group. State records show that Oxford Global Partners was formed in September 2008 by Cook and Beckman's wife, Hollie, while Oxford Global Advisors, a Delaware firm, and the Oxford Private Client Group were set up by Beckman.
The Cooks paid its previous owners $2.6 million in cash for the mansion in April 2008.
Hennepin County property records show that they sold the property for the same amount three months later to Beckman's Oxford Global Advisors, which paid a deed tax of $8,850.
But in a petition filed Aug. 20 in Hennepin County District Court, the Cooks allege that their signatures -- and the signature of notary public Paul R. Wood -- on the warranty deed are forgeries. They blame Oxford.
"Mr. Beckman has no knowledge about any alleged forgery or why anyone would forge signatures" on Van Dusen property records, Luger said. He said Thursday that the ownership of Oxford Global Advisors is in dispute.
Gina Cook's signature on the deed looks nothing like her signature on the petition seeking to return the building's title. But to the untrained eye, the signatures for Wood and Trevor Cook are close matches.
Wood, a former senior investment adviser with Oxford Private Client Group, did not return calls seeking comment. But in an affidavit filed in court, Wood says he never met Gina Cook. "I recall notarizing one other document for Trevor Cook, but I did not notarize this [warranty deed] document for him," Wood says.
Forgery allegations have been made in past complaints involving Beckman and Cook, though neither was ever charged with such a crime.
Ron Stolpman, a Lakeville resident who invested $383,000 in the currency program through Wood, chuckled when he learned about the Van Dusen complaint.
"They're all falling on each other like a pack of dogs, aren't they?" Stolpman said.
Dan Browning • 612-673-4493