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Murder-for-hire target sues LOP

Lake of the Pines resident Thomas Wess and his wife have filed a $5 million suit against the gated community’s members-only association, alleging that its failure to settle a long-standing property dispute with a neighbor contributed to a murder-for-hire plot.

“The biggest thing I want is to be treated fairly,” said Wess, 43, who moved to Lake of the Pines in 1998.

In the lawsuit filed last week, Wess’ attorneys state that the mishandling of the property-line dispute between the Wesses and their Lakeshore North neighbor, William Weismann, “was a substantial contributing cause, if not the sole cause, of William W. Weismann’s solicitation of the murder for hire of plaintiff Thomas R. Wess.”

Weismann is currently serving a five-year sentence after pleading “no contest” to two charges of soliciting of murder for hire. He was arrested last April after handing $5,000 to an undercover Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputy posing as a hit man.

Weismann moved next door to Wess in 2000. The dispute between the neighbors centered on a pier built on Wess’ property that extended 18 inches onto his neighbor’s land.

“There was favoritism the whole time toward Mr. Weismann,” Wess said of the Lake of the Pines association.

In court documents, attorneys for Wess state that they had attempted to create an easement that would allow the pier to remain where it was.

The association’s committee that oversees such matters declined to approve the pier that the Wesses had constructed. In 2002, a Nevada County Superior Court judge ruled that the Wesses were entitled to an easement for the part of the pier that extended to the Weismanns’ property.

The lawsuit states that the dispute led to numerous conflagrations between Wess and Weismann, and the association’s apparent favoritism for the Weismanns only exacerbated the problem, Wess’ attorneys stated last week in a statement for punitive damages filed.

“During (a 2002) meeting, defendant Ron Trimble (chairman of the association’s environmental control committee) said to plaintiff Lisa Wess that (they) ‘needed to compromise’ the prescriptive easement ordered by (the court) so that the Weismanns wouldn’t feel so bad.”

Weismann, 66, was a property-rights activist who was instrumental in the move to quash Natural Heritage 2020, the county’s shuttered blueprint for long-term planning. He was once head of the Citizens for Property Rights group.

Wess, a Chicago native, is a former sonar technician for the U.S. Navy.

Reached Monday, Wess said the association continually favored Weismann in the property dispute over the dock and rock planter that encroached on Wess’ property.

Wess is seeking monetary, nonmonetary and punitive damages in the suit against Lake of the Pines. Wess’ attorney, Timothy Hodgson of Sacramento, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Lake of the Pines general manager Ed Vitrano said he had not personally been served with the lawsuit as of Monday afternoon.

“I won’t talk about that in more detail … until legal counsel has a chance to review it,” he said.

Vitrano, past association board president Lisl Hicks, director of environmental control Ed Marshall, environmental control committee member Ron Trimble, former director of environmental control Fred Dean-Turner and the association are named as defendants in the suit.

Vitrano recently accepted a position with an Oceanside-area golf/residential community, but said leaving Lake of the Pines after almost 10 years has nothing to do with the Wess-Weismann property dispute.

“This lawsuit has been talked about for months,” he said. “The two are totally unconnected.”

Wess last year dropped a civil suit against Weismann because of legal wrangling with the defendant’s attorneys. He said Monday, however, that he may revive the suit against his former neighbor.

“Our life has been a whirlwind for the past 31Ú2 years,” said Wess. He added that he enjoys living in Lake of the Pines, “except for the politics.”

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