Councilman has history of financial difficulties
by Jon Gillooly
October 30, 2013 12:06 AM | 6023 views | 23 23 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kennesaw City Council Matthew Riedemann
<br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Kennesaw City Council Matthew Riedemann
Staff/Jeff Stanton
slideshow
KENNESAW — City Councilman Matthew Riedemann has a record of financial troubles, from bankruptcy to breach of contract.

Yet Riedemann, who faces small business owner Debra Williams in the Nov. 5 election, says he’s learned from his past and believes the taxpayers of Kennesaw can trust him to act responsibly when it comes to the city’s finances.

Riedemann found himself on the losing end of a civil suit in Cobb Superior Court on June 26 when Judge Robert Flournoy found him in breach of contract with a company that had loaned him money.

Riedemann was ordered to pay the company the principal of $295,000, accrued interest of $65,426 and attorney’s fees of $54,063, according to the court order.

“Riedemann and ACP Inc. have been stubbornly litigious, acted in bad faith and have caused plaintiff unnecessary trouble and expense,” according to the complaint.

In its lawsuit against Riedemann and his various companies, such as Ashford Capital Partners Inc., Buywake charged that it loaned Riedemann $400,000 on Jan. 31, 2011.

On Dec. 5, 2012, Buywake notified Riedemann that he was in default and demanded payment, resulting in the lawsuit and subsequent judge’s order.

Riedemann acknowledged the judgment when contacted by the MDJ.

Riedemann said the loan was “to bridge a gap between buying a property and an investor coming in to remove that loan because my business is all investors.”

The investor was impacted by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and didn’t come through, he said.

“At that point in March 2011, he couldn’t go forward due to the tsunami, and I completely understood, told my buddy over there at Buywake, ‘Hey, we’re working on this.’”

Even so, the company filed suit.

Riedemann said he paid back more than $100,000 of the $400,000 loan over the last year or two.

“But with all the interest and attorney’s fees, it’s just over $400,000. He is secured now. We have assets of more than $3 million, but they’re in real estate, so that is basically — he is about to be paid off within the next few months actually because we’re about to sell some property.”

Credit card default

Riedemann ran into trouble with his credit card company in another matter.

A court order shows how Riedemann defaulted on his payments to American Express Bank, FSB.

American Express filed suit in Jan. 2012, charging him with defaulting on his payment. Cobb Superior Court ordered him to pay $52,236, according to court records.

“I took the loss myself rather than my investors on a different deal,” he said. “That was monies that I had to put out on another deal rather than pay my American Express card.”

Bankruptcy filing

Riedemann said he agreed to sell his home in 2011 at on Palisades Main in a bank short sale caused, he said, when the housing bubble collapsed.

He has also filed for bankruptcy before.

In 1998 he filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, saying his student loans and building a new family got the best of him.

“We fought, cried and tried as long as we could to avoid the bankruptcy; but ultimately, we had to make what would be one of the most difficult decisions we’d ever have to make,” he said.

He and his wife did pay back the amount set out by the court trustee, he said.

Despite such financial challenges, Riedemann said taxpayers should trust him in helping to manage the city’s budget.

“My answer would be I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and have learned a lot of things in the process and learned about a lot of things that you wouldn’t do and what you would do in certain scenarios,” he said. “It might sound a little corny, but I kind of feel that this is my doctorate program. I have more hard knocks or more experience that many, many, many people.”

Riedemann said there are controls in place to manage the city’s money, such as the city manager and city’s finance director, although as a council member Riedemann does have input, and a vote, on the city’s budget.

“I know budgets now better than ever before,” he said.

Riedemann said he is the council’s administrative liaison.

“I meet with the city manager and any issues that are needed to be covered through there,” he said. “I’m basically the city hall kind of liaison.”

Riedemann said he is also the liaison to the Kennesaw Development Authority, which he chaired before the council elected him to fill the unexpired term of the late Councilman Bill Thrash earlier this year.

Past dictates future, challenger says Debra Williams, who owns her own public relations and marketing business in the city and serves on the Kennesaw Planning and Zoning Board, said Riedemann’s financial problems were brought to her attention.

“It does bring concern to me as a citizen that someone with a financial background even allows himself to get in that situation,” Williams said. “I don’t know the details of how it took place -- if he actually got the money -- but if they gave him the money and then an investor didn’t come through, is he not supposed to have that money to give back to them? So where did the money go? It is quite a concern to me. My mom and dad always said your past dictates your future. You can learn from it, but it’s a predicator to your future and the decisions that you make at certain times.”

Williams said she wants every voter to be aware of both her and Riedemann’s backgrounds before they go into the voting booth.

“I don’t want anyone to vote for me who doesn’t know my background,” Williams said. “I want them to go into that voting booth and, without a shadow of a doubt, have no hesitation when they punch my name. I want them to know both of us before they go into that booth.”

Councilwoman Chris Welsh, who has endorsed Williams in the race, is also concerned about Riedemann’s background.

“It makes me uncomfortable,” said Welsh. “I was not aware of those things when his name was put in the hat, but it does make me uncomfortable. I think people are allowed to make mistakes and have difficult times. I’ve had my own difficult times, but I think when you end up in a courtroom situation, there’s probably more to it, and it does make me uncomfortable.”

Welsh said while it is considered “bad form” to weigh in on a political race “on your level or lower,” she believes the future of the city is too important for her to remain silent.

“At this point I think the city needs some independent thinkers,” said Welsh, who plans to retire when her term is over in two years to devote more time to her children.

Endorsing Williams was not easy, Welsh said, “because Matt’s daughter and my children are the same age and they go to school together. Matt’s wife I adore. We live in the same neighborhood. It’s a hard thing. I think he’s a good man, I think he’s a good person. I just don’t think he’s the person to lead the city right now.”

Comments
(23)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Eileen Alberstadt
|
November 01, 2013
Uh oh! Matt Riedemann, I see you have another Cobb Superior Court complaint sitting in the wings!

This new one filed on October 2, 2013 and you were serviced on October 9, 2013 while holding City Council Post 4. Again we have a complaint filed on behalf of American Express Centurion Bank.

This time in the amount of $107,000. My God, where do you spend that money? How much more is to come?

You stated in your interview with the MDJ that you have learned your lesson and you would not let down the people of Kennesaw. You knew you did not pay these people and this would come sooner or later.

Who is the blame on this one?

The people are going to want truthful answer and not bs!

Matt Riedemann
|
November 01, 2013
Eileen,

I hope you are doing well. I appreciate your inquiry and happy to answer your question.

This complaint is tied to the original complaint that I had with American Express. There was a master account and these accounts were part of that.

As I have said before - I would take the loss personally on a deal rather than my investors.

If you would like to call me at 678-231-4579 or Email me at Matt@AshfordCP.com I would be more than happy to setup a time to discuss this with you in more detail.

Thank you,

Matt
Eileen Alberstadt
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October 31, 2013
So you have learned a lesson Matt Riedemann?

Doubt It! We shall see!

How can you lie to people?
Eileen Alberstadt
|
October 31, 2013
Shame on you Matt Riedemann!

Shame on you Mark Mathews!

How can you do this to people who pay your salary and benefits?

Out they should go. Benefits, Pensions and Credit Cards for abusive spending. No More!

People, put a stop to this NOW!
Analysis
|
October 30, 2013
In reading the Court Documents regarding the suit by Buywake, they never mentioned that the deal fell through because of the Tsunami. The loan was made under the pretense that it was for a bridge loan, but the funds were used for an outright purchase. Had they known that they would have never made the loan.

You can see the links by going to http://riedeman.blogspot.com. Scroll all the way down to see the court documents. His previous response to my post do not seem to hold water.

Eileen Alberstadt
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November 01, 2013
We Have another!
Big Shanty Girl
|
October 30, 2013
Kennesaw is in a mess! Thank you Mr. Mayor. What next?
Anonomous resident
|
October 30, 2013
There is a big block of folks here in Legacy Park that do NOT support you. Your CHOICE to walk away from your home and short sell was another dagger in your neighbors pocketbooks. You could have rode it out but you decided it was more expedient to give up and bail, leaving your neighbors to hold the bag. Add to this bankruptcies, lawsuits, unpaid credit cards. You are the LAST person that needs to be running Kennesaw. But since the mayor who appointed you and is your personal BUDDY also has a bankruptcy - i guess he wouldn't care so much.

How have you paid for the 10 thousand signs all over Kennesaw??? Shouldn't some of that money been used to pay back the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars you owe Wakeboard.com, American Express and others?
Matt Riedemann
|
October 30, 2013
Mr. Bill Harris (Mr. Anonymous)

Your hate writing is fortunately or unfortunately very transparent.

The offer is open to sit down and speak...

Thanks,

Matt
comet81
|
October 30, 2013
Doesn't pay AMEX cards.... credit cards issued to members with little guidelines....what could go wrong! :)
anoymous resident
|
October 30, 2013
LOL - Post of the day! But SO TRUE!
Best Qualified???
|
October 30, 2013
When Mathews appointed him to council he said he was the "best qualified".

Really????? Seriously?????

Of all the people in Kennesaw, this guy is most qualified???

And why do we NEVER hear anything from Killingsworth or Duckett???

The only thing they do is vote the way the Mayor tells them to vote, other than that, they do nothing but keep seats warm in council chambers.

Duckett is up for election this time, he needs to go as well.

Next election cycle Mathews and Killingsworth are gone, then maybe Kennesaw can move out from under this cloud it's been under.

We'll see next week if the population of Kennesaw is paying attention.

You get the government you vote for.
Stop the madness
|
October 30, 2013
When are we going to say "enough is enough".

We here in Kennesaw do NOT need another shady character on council. We have enough already, and we are trying to clean up our city government.

If you all remember, he never won an election. He was put in office by Mayor Mathews, himself standing on shaky ground right now after calling his citizens "idiots" if they want accountability in government spending.

If you live in Kennesaw, please vote and try to move the city away from the unethical politics that has plagued our city the last few years.
Cutting Edge?
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October 30, 2013
Cutting Edge business model? Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
anonymous
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October 30, 2013
"Riedman said there are controls in place to manage the city's money."

From what we've seen lately with the credit card non-guidelines, let alone "controls," this is an untruth. In either case, this guy couldn't even get his student loans paid. This is NOT the guy I want representing me on the council. And his cavalier attitude does not help him.
anonymous
|
October 30, 2013
Sounds like Tim Lee with traing wheels he will fit right in at the Cobb Chamber look for big money to follow him.
Matt Riedemann
|
October 30, 2013
Kudos to the Marietta Daily Journal and Jon Gillooly for story that included both sides.

--

I have never had anything to hide and I am not ashamed of implementing a cutting edge business model. My personal business is a real estate investment firm.

To answer a few questions:

Comment: Williams said... I don't know the details of how it took place -- if he actually got the money -- but if they gave him the money and then an investor didn't come through, is he not supposed to have that money to give back to them?"

Comment Answer: Correct, Mrs. Williams doesn't know all the details. The monies loaned were for an unsecured bridge loan to close a real estate deal that an original investor was unable to do. The deal closed. The original investor backed out after the closing. It wasn't a scenario where I could "give the money back". Meanwhile, the loan to acquire the property was unsecured, the property acquired was worth more than twice the value of the loan.

Comment: Welsh said... "I think people are allowed to make mistakes and have difficult times. I've had my own difficult times, but I think when you end up in a courtroom situation, there's probably more to it, and it does make me uncomfortable."

Comment Answer: It wasn't settled in a court room and the outcome required legal documentation and there really is not more to it. We secured his unsecured business bridge loan. The loan is set to be paid off by the end of the year.

I wasn't tried and convicted for a criminal case.

Please feel free to contact me at (678) 231-4579 or Matt@AshfordCP.com if you have any further questions.

Thank you.

Matt
anonymous
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October 30, 2013
So you entered into an unsecured bridge loan with no safety net and no guarantee the investor was on board? This sounds like you'd fit right in with all the other fiduciarily-challenged politicians we've seen. Truly poor judgment with your own money, let alone mine.
Debra Williams
|
October 30, 2013
Mr. Riedemann: I admitted I didn't know how the deal went down, I'm didn't graduate with a financial background. However, the fact is, it isn't the only negative financial situation you have found yourself in. Walking away from responsibilities is a character trait once started, is found easier and easier to do in the future. Although you were 'forgiven' of your debts, those outstanding debts are handed to the rest of the American people - hence the reason we are trying to dig our way out of the economic downturn.

I would hope you as a citizen would have concerns should anyone running for office had these situations brought to light.

All I ask is for people to make an informed decision before voting. Do their own research and not just listen to what the candidate or anyone else is saying about them. That's all I've ever asked since the first time I ever voted.

For anyone to have judgements against them is a serious matter when it comes to that person being a City Financial Liaison and they have proven irresponsibility.

For clarification, you were not, nor have ever been elected. You were appointed by one vote, the Mayor, to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Bill Thrash. Citizens elect, Mayor and Council appoint.

Analysis
|
October 30, 2013
You were loaned $400k in January 31, 2011 to secure a property for a buyer who could not come through on his side due to the March 2011 Tsunami.

Question1: Did you close on the property and, therefore, become legal owner?

Question2: Did Buywake place a lien on the property at some point in 2011 to prevent you from selling before they received payment? A lien would signify that you had consummated the transaction and legal title passed, placing them somewhere in the chain of being able to be paid off when you sold the property.

Question3: If they did not put a lien on the property, is it possible the deal was not consummated?

Question 4: If not consummated, then Mrs. Williams's question becomes valid. Where did the money go?

Observation 1: It begins to look very bad when you have an outstanding loan to a company, and then cannot payoff the American Express card.

Unfortunately, this begins to rise to a very disturbing level. A bankruptcy in 1998 is different than one in, say 2009, after the worst financial crisis to hit the U.S. since the Great Depression. 1998 was the fourth year of the greatest bull stock market in history, and property was appreciating in value. Not sure what business you were in, but your website says you've been in the game for 20 years, which would put you in the business beginning in 1993..exactly at the beginning of a five year bull run in equities and real estate.

Finally, where are your investors in Ashford Capital? Are they coming to your defense in these pages? Can your produce records to support your claims of $3 million in real estate?

If running for public office, you should be willing to disclose your successful deals.
Matt Riedemann
|
October 30, 2013
Thank you for your analysis. Happy to share with you.

Answer1: Yes, the property closed on January 31, 2011. The loan was an unsecured loan made to myself and my company.

Answer2: No, they did not place a lien. Again, it was an unsecured loan made to me and my company.

Answer3: The deal was consummated. As the unsecured loan was made to my company on January 31, 2011. With the funds the property was purchased and a Warranty Deed was issued.

Answer4: Refer to Answer3 as the property was purchased.

Observation1: I can appreciate your observation about the loan and the AMEX card.

Observation regarding Bankruptcy in 1998. Yes, it was a very good time. I was working for a homebuilder here in Atlanta. My wife and I were a few years out of college and, again, made a very tough decision, but we followed and paid according to the trustee.

I would be more than happy to sit down with you to show you the substantiation of the Ashford deals.

Again, thank you very much. Please contact me at (678) 231-4579 or Matt@AshfordCP.com should you like to come by my office and discuss further.
Matt Riedemann
|
October 30, 2013
Not sure if the last post went thru...

Thank you for your analysis. Happy to share with you.

Answer1: Yes, the property closed on January 31, 2011. The loan was an unsecured loan made to myself and my company.

Answer2: No, they did not place a lien. Again, it was an unsecured loan made to me and my company.

Answer3: The deal was consummated. As the unsecured loan was made to my company on January 31, 2011. With the funds the property was purchased and a Warranty Deed was issued.

Answer4: Refer to Answer3 as the property was purchased.

Observation1: I can appreciate your observation about the loan and the AMEX card.

Observation regarding Bankruptcy in 1998. Yes, it was a very good time. I was working for a homebuilder here in Atlanta. My wife and I were a few years out of college and, again, made a very tough decision, but we followed and paid according to the trustee.

I would be more than happy to sit down with you to show you the substantiation of the Ashford deals.

Again, thank you very much. Please contact me at (678) 231-4579 or Matt@AshfordCP.com should you like to come by my office and discuss further.

voter in kennesaw
|
October 30, 2013
If you filed for Bankruptcy in 1998, then 10 years later have another 400k in debt did you really learn your lesson? Also after the bankruptcy why would you ever get an unsecured loan.
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