By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
On August 8, a Los Angeles jury awarded a pair of his companies -- Security Network Inc. and Custom Tooling and Service Inc. -- $3 million in punitive damages after determining that Humboldt, Cardservice, and Mastercard had withheld $150,000 of his funds "without legal justification." The story even caught the attention of Forbesmagazine, which printed a short story about Vanmoor on November 10, 2003.
Vanmoor's victory stunned legal observers. "The fact that Mr. Vanmoor found a California attorney to go to court for him while he was busy changing large rocks to small ones in no way altered the basic radioactive nature of this lawsuit," William T. Bedsworth, associate justice of the California Court of Appeals, wrote in a column published on www.greensheet.com by the Orange County Bar Association. "If the bank had put a Geiger counter next to the complaint, it would have gone off like Ginger Baker on speed. Call me cynical, but I think Mr. Vanmoor's chances of staying in this country have improved substantially. Now if he can only get out of jail.
"The jury may have gotten this one exactly right," Bedsworth continued. "But it may have also been, in the words of the venerable legal maxim, 'Incarceratus in propia persona habeat magnum mojo. '" Bedsworth adds that Tennessee Ernie Ford translated the maxim -- usually interpreted as "a person in prison has great power" -- as "If you see me comin', better step aside."
"I'm sure glad this file is on its way to another court of appeal," Bedsworth concluded. "It'll save me the trouble of steppin' aside."
And even though he's locked up, patent attorney Steemer says, Vanmoor has come up with more inventions. In fact, he has a slew of recently registered patents, including cartridges for semi-automatic sidearms, propellers for marine applications, and fixed-wing fuselage designs. "Just yesterday, we worked on a new patent," Steemer says. "Would you believe every once in a while I hear 'You have reached the end of your allotted time' when we're talking? I'm sure it doesn't tickle his imagination to be in there behind gray walls, but he always puts the best slant on things."