PLAISTOW — The men who were the subjects of defamatory accusations posted on a billboard in town are still awaiting their share of a $275 million settlement ordered to be paid by local businessman Michael Gill in September of 2017.
“Attempted Murder,” “Drug Dealer,” “Extortionist” declared the messages published by Gill, owner and president of The Mortgage Specialists Inc. and a 2016 gubernatorial candidate. He accused local businessmen Dick Anagnost, Bill Greiner and Andy Crews of orchestrating and exacerbating the opioid crisis in order to make money from addicts who sought treatment at HOPE Recovery Center, which received large donations from Anagnost and Crews, according to court documents.
Gill called the men drug dealers, gun runners and murderers of children, according to court documents.
Now, no one knows where Gill is. He’s disappeared — and so have the large, flashy messages that once bombarded drivers near his business at 2 Main St. The electronic screen is blank.
But the three men who won the 2016 defamation lawsuit which said Gill “maliciously published taunting and extreme statements, which falsely accuse (them) of crimes” are still waiting for Gill to pay up.
To date, their attorneys, Shaheen and Gordon, have collected about $1 million, according to Anagnost, in addition to Gill’s home at 67-69 Conley Grove Road in Derry and The Mortgage Specialists Inc.’s business locations in Nashua and Plaistow, which will likely be leased to new tenants.
“His house was in significant disrepair,” Tim McLaughlin, a Shaheen and Gordon attorney who represented the three plaintiffs, said of Gill’s home. “The men have had to install a new septic tank, drill a new well on the property, and pay for other home repairs so that they could put the house on the market.”
Anagnost said because of taxes, attorney’s fees and the cost of repairs to the Derry home paid by him, Grenier and Crews, he isn’t sure if they made their money back since they started to collect.
“He didn’t pay his taxes, so we had to pay them in order to get the properties,” Anagnost said. “In totality, we have spent an awful lot of money to get here. So I’m not sure where we are now.”
It is unclear whether the remaining settlement plus interest as of May — a total of $291,307,956 — will ever be paid.
“Mr. Gill is hiding. He is not taking responsibility for his actions,” McLaughlin said. “As far as I know, nobody that I know knows his location. He is clearly not going to pay his debt.”
Gill represented himself during the lawsuit and maintained that the accusations were true, and that their “substance can be established.”
Gill said in court documents that he was using his billboard simply to disseminate information to the public and report on the news as a journalist would. Gill repeatedly ignored the judge’s orders to stop making accusations about the plaintiffs. During the lawsuit, Gill continued to show the plaintiffs’ photos on his billboards.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys presented what they said was a pattern of Gill showing a disregard for the rules of the court.
According to Anagnost, there is currently an investigation into recent financial information turned over by Michael Gill Jr., Gill’s son. The younger Gill recently founded NextGen Mortgage Inc., a company which does business similar to that done by his father’s company, The Mortgage Specialists Inc.
“We believe NextGen is the alter ego of the Mortgage Specialists,” Anagnost said. “But we don’t know, honestly, whether (Gill’s) son will be found responsible.”
NextGen Mortgage Inc. denies any affiliation with The Mortgage Specialists, but a phone number listed on The Mortgage Specialists Inc.’s website is forwarded to a NextGen employee. Contacted by The Eagle-Tribune, that employee failed to comment on the phone number connection and said the two companies are unrelated.
Michael Gill Jr. was unable to be reached for comment about NextGen or his father’s whereabouts.
According to McLaughlin, Gill continues to make accusations against Crews, Anagnost, and Greiner via his “State of Corruption NH” YouTube channel, where he claims to expose “politicians, law enforcement, courts, along with the treason of the FBI and the DEA.” His most recent video was published from an unknown location on Oct. 24.
Anagnost said he isn’t sure why Gill chose to target him, Greiner and Crews.
“I had no relationship with him at all,” Anagnost said. “None of us had ever met, knew of, or had any information of Mike Gill before all of this happened.”
Anagnost said he wants to put the situation behind him.
“We’re hoping that day comes,’’ he said, “but it probably isn’t coming any time soon.’’