Calling All Junior Mystery Solvers

Today I found something totally unexpected in a San Diego Courthouse. It’s also totally strange. I’d like to enlist your help explaining what I’ve found. Click here now to see the case file while your eyes are still fresh!

It appears to be a debt collection action by Fred C. Trump that somehow turned into bench warrants and a police manhunt for an elderly couple who owed Trump slightly over $1,000. The entire case is deeply unusual. I’ve never seen anything like it. Several people hanging out with me in the basement of the San Diego Hall of Justice this afternoon agreed it seems most unusual.

So let’s do a quick walk-through of the weird. First, let’s look at the amount of money at stake. Even by the standards of 1982, a debt of $1,310.10 wasn’t huge.

Next, pay close attention to the address of his attorney. For a two-bit collection action in San Diego, Trump hires an attorney with an office in Beverly Hills. That’s 100 miles north of San Diego and some of the priciest real estate in America. This doesn’t look like a cheap attorney.

OK, so next Fred Trump’s presumably high-priced attorney asks the court to schedule a hearing about issuing a “writ of execution” against Sam and Betty Tobias. But they don’t come to the hearing. So the judge issues a bench warrant for their arrest. I’ve seen a lot of collection actions in my career. I’ve never seen them pushed this far.

Now take a look at the arrest warrant itself. Police are searching for a 75-year-old retiree with a receding hairline and a 9 year old car. To arrest him (and his wife!) over a $1,300 debt owed to a landlord 3,000 miles away.

The final filings were barely legible on microfilm (and even less legible after printing and scanning). But they’re an account by the marshal of his unsuccessful efforts to apprehend our fugitives.

This case is one of the dozens of bizarre things you find when you start looking into Trump. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time or money (yet!) to chase down every lead. I’ve given several of my most promising leads to journalists and I’m working on several by myself.

Would you like to try your hand at running this one down? Can you find evidence that would help to explain Fred C. Trump’s motives for launching such a punitive cross-continental quest for such a small sum of money? If so, please send me an email at explaining your theory and the evidence that supports it. No attachments, please.


I want to thank everyone for all the support you have shown for RAGEPATH and its mission. Your recent outpouring of support has saved this endeavor.

One week ago, the RAGEPATH project was on its last legs. I have been working full-time since mid-November to research business entities controlled by Donald Trump that were inadequately vetted during the 2016 campaign. During that time, I have made a lot of shocking finds and I have attracted generous support. As we entered August, however, I was planning to dissolve the project by the end of the month due to a lack of sufficient resources to continue. The recent outpouring of support that has followed in the wake of Politico‘s profile on independent research efforts into Trump has allowed us to change those plans.

Researchers like me help journalists by chasing down leads and figuring out which of the many possible stories that could be told are well-substantiated and which tantalizing clues will lead to an empty rabbit hole. I’m the first step in a long process of bringing stories to light. My professional industry — opposition research — has arisen to fill a void left behind by the hollowing out of America’s newsrooms. Under ordinary circumstances, that means we only get to investigate the stories that someone has a vested financial interest in exploring. I’ve dedicated myself to my Trump research at my own expense because it seemed to be a matter of significant public concern that too few resources were dedicated to exploring.

When I was planning to cease operations, I devised a “triage list” of my best findings. The stories on that list struck a balance between high significance in light of current events and comparatively less work to “finish.” For the past several weeks, I have made a concerted effort to share those findings with some very talented investigative journalists. Many of the projects ranked highest on my “triage list” have been entrusted to competent hands.

In the past week we have received enough financial support to extend our project through at least the end of October. Your support has also given me the ability to visit some public record archives that are likely to contain highly relevant information that has not previously come to light. I will first head down to Los Angeles, where Trump has had several bizarre financial arrangements over the past thirty years. I will then travel to a second jurisdiction of concern, where we believe there are valuable but vulnerable records which should be preserved.

I can’t thank you all enough for supporting my work. I’ve given my all to this because I feel it is so important. In the past few weeks it felt like I’d hit the mat and was down for the count. Then, suddenly, a roar of support has given me new energy and helped me to rise back up — wobbly but determined to resume the fight.

I’m still working to revise my project scope in light of the changed circumstances. Many of you have reached out to volunteer services, provide tips, contribute funds and request further info on my findings. Check out our support page if you still want to help. It will take some time to figure out what I can realistically achieve within the confines of this new set of resources. I will update you all with my plans when that process is complete.

Thank you. God bless America.