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Cellblock ‘sultan’ behind Joyland deed scam

Convicted murderer Anthony Kelley-El filed bogus deeds

Anthony Kelley-El, a self-styled "Sultan," started a corporation in Kansas while serving a life sentence for murder. His company, Moorish America Inc., filed bogus deeds in Sedgwick County, claiming three high-profile properties.
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Anthony Kelley-El, a self-styled "Sultan," started a corporation in Kansas while serving a life sentence for murder. His company, Moorish America Inc., filed bogus deeds in Sedgwick County, claiming three high-profile properties.

The president of a Kansas corporation that filed bogus deeds on Joyland and a Greyhound bus station in Wichita is a self-styled “sultan” in a prison-cult offshoot of Islam, serving three life sentences for strangling a woman and bragging about it to his girlfriend.

His listed corporate secretary served seven years in federal prison for obstruction of justice and scamming Medicaid of $1.24 million through a phony drug-and-alcohol counseling center that collected money for treatment of patients who were mostly family members and children.

Those details emerge in a check of corporate and court records of Anthony Kelley-El, a resident of El Dorado state prison, his company, the fraudulent deed transfers and the woman listed in state documents as the corporate secretary, Peggy Franklin-El of Wichita.

Peggy Franklin-El said she has never met or heard of Anthony Kelley-El and does not know why her name and home address are included in the Moorish America Inc. business documents filed with the Kansas Secretary of State.

Kelley-El is a principal in a nonprofit corporation called Moorish America Inc. Another corporate officer in the company’s latest filing, treasurer Abbigaye Kelley-El, lives in St. Thomas, Jamaica, according to secretary of state records.

Moorish America was the named beneficiary of fake cut-and-paste deeds claiming ownership to three substantial properties in Wichita: the site of the defunct Joyland Amusement Park, the former downtown Greyhound bus terminal and the Wellness Center veterans home.

The deeds were filed and recorded at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, exploiting a loophole in state law that requires the Register of Deeds and County Clerk’s offices to accept documents at face value, even if they know they’re fakes.

Danedri Herbert, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was unable to explain how Kelley-El could incorporate the business from behind bars or what, if anything, could be done to remove the company from state business files now that it’s been exposed as a shell for passing fake deeds.

It also isn’t clear whether the officers in Moorish America are related to each other — or even know they are listed as being involved in the business.

The suffix -El is an add-on often adopted by members of “Moorish” sects, which claim to practice a form of Islam but have been linked to multiple fraudulent enterprises across the country.

News reports and court documents about Kelley-El illuminate a history of an unexplained murder, coupled with bizarre behaviors and beliefs behind bars.

Kelley-El, originally Anthony Kelley, came to public notice in November of 1988, when he was charged with murdering Serina Patton, 32, at her southeast Wichita home.

Patton’s boyfriend found her strangled body when he showed up to take her on a date. She hands and feet had been bound and her hair and sweater were sopping wet from an apparent attempt to drown her before the strangling.

Fingerprints found on a wine glass at the crime scene led police to Kelley, then 24 years old and on parole for theft and weapons convictions.

An elaborate effort by Kelley to blame the killing on a Missouri prisoner fell through when his girlfriend and a jailhouse acquaintance decided not to lie for him.

The girlfriend ultimately testified that Kelley had bragged to her about the killing and provided her and the jailhouse friend details about the interior of Patton’s home to make the testimony he solicited seem more credible.

Kelley’s defense was that he lied about committing the crime as a “prestige thing” to gain status with his criminal friends.

He was found guilty and sentenced to three back-to-back terms of life in prison.

A cellblock ‘Sultan’

Kelley apparently began associating himself with the Moorish movement in prison, although a national spokesperson for the Moorish Science Temple of America said he is not, nor has he ever been, an official member.

Within a year of his conviction, Kelley added the -El to his name and formed his first corporation, “Second Kingdom of Moab, Inc.”

The stated purpose of Second Kingdom of Moab was to “aid the Prophet Noble Drew Ali … to initiate the teachings of Prophet Noble Drew Ali … to protect life, liberty, and property, to appoint and consecrate missionaries of the prophet.”

Noble Drew Ali, born Timothy Drew, founded the Moorish Science Temple of America 1913 in Newark, N.J. Ali claimed to have possession of a lost section of the Quran that was given to him by an Egyptian high priest.

Moorism is a quasi-Islamic belief system founded on the premise that African Americans are descendants of Moabites and are Moors by nationality. Noble Drew Ali is believed by its followers to be a prophet.

In recent years, people claiming to be followers of the Moorish Science Temple of America have engaged in what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “paper terrorism” — filing false paperwork, including deeds and liens.

Press Secretary of the Moorish Science Temple of America Azeem Hopkins-Bey said these “paper terrorists” are not actual members of the religious group, but typically “sovereign citizens” who use the Moorish American name to hide their illegal activities.

“I believe they think that our organization is an easy target to utilize as an umbrella to hide their illegal activities,” Hopkins-Bey said. “Those teachings in no way reflect the doctrine we teach.”

“We don’t believe in filing fraudulent documents, attempting to illegally take control of people’s property, and we don’t believe in filing liens. But we encourage our members to be upstanding, law-abiding citizens,” Hopkins-Bey said.

Despite Kelley-El’s apparent lack of official membership with the Moorish Science Temple of America, he directly associated his first company with it in its elaborate founding documents and named himself the “Sultan,” collecting a salary from membership dues of the group.

The company also had a board of directors that would meet three times a week and “lay and collect dues and duties” from fellow prisoners who were ostensibly under Moorish protection to “suppress insurrection and repel invasions.”

“The executive Power of this Kingdom shall be vested in the Sultan thereof, he shall, at stated Times, receive for his services, a Compensation,” the articles of incorporation said. “Anthony E. Kelley, the son of Ruth, shall serve as the first Sultan of Moab.”

In 1991, Kelley-El sued the organization in federal court claiming his rights were violated when he was prevented by two other inmates at Lansing State Prison from “taking control of Temple 43.” The suit was dismissed as “frivolous.”

It is unknown how much money, if any, Kelley-El made from the Second Kingdom of Moab or how many members his first company had.

The business was forfeited on July 15, 1993, after failing to file an annual report with the secretary of state.

Records show that Kelley-El incorporated Moorish America in 2011.

Unlike the documents establishing the Second Kingdom of Moab, the articles of incorporation for Moorish America were about as brief as Kansas law allows. The filing said only that it was formed “to engage in any lawful action or activity for which corporations may be organized under the Kansas General Corporation Code.”

In its latest filing, Moorish America claims to have 3,106 members.

The “principal office address” listed is an apparently defunct beauty shop and the mailing address is a private home, both in northeast Wichita. An Eagle reporter was unable to contact anyone at either location.

Of 22 board members the corporation has reported since it formed in 2011, at least 12 were prisoners — including three murderers — when they served. Four were listed as residents of Jamaica.

As he did with his first company, Kelley-El ended up suing his successor organization.

In 2007, Kelley-El sued the “Kingdom of Moorish America” to prevent the group’s “monarchical judge” from sending its “law enforcement officers” to execute a “search warrant” on his El Dorado prison cell.

A Butler County judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that “the Kingdom lacked the capacity to sue or be sued and lacked the authority to issue a search warrant.” The state Court of Appeals upheld the ruling.

Baby drug addicts?

One listed business associate of Moorish America, 61-year-old Peggy Franklin-El of Wichita, said she is not involved in the business.

She said she has served in various leadership roles in the Moorish Science Temple of America and that she was instrumental in bringing it to Wichita. But she’s not familiar with any of the listed Moorish America business associates, she said.

Franklin-El served seven years in federal prison for Medicaid fraud and obstruction of justice.

In 1993, Franklin-El and her husband, Johnnie, set up a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment center called “The Great Meeting Is On For Your Success.”

For 10 years, the company survived largely on income from fundraising, court records show. In 2003, the business became eligible to bill Medicaid. Franklin-El and her husband received more than $1.24 million in Medicaid money on 1,331 claims in less than 17 months.

But, as billing and medical experts would later testify, all those claims were fraudulent.

For example, Franklin-El’s company got more than $420,000 to provide addiction counseling to relatives and 17 children under the age of 12, including two two-week-old babies, court documents show. It is clinically impossible to diagnose or treat children younger than 12 for drug addiction, experts testified.

She was sentenced to 92 months in prison and was released in 2014.

Franklin-El said she has “never stole nothing” and that she thinks she was targeted because of her race and religion.

“Why would I steal all that money and stay in Wichita? That don’t even make sense,” Franklin-El said.

Deeds cut and pasted

Kelley-El apparently whited-out and cut-and-pasted sections and signatures from various documents to create deeds purporting to show that random owners had transferred their property to Moorish America, Sedgwick County Register of Deeds Tonya Buckingham said.

Buckingham said she knew the papers were suspicious and almost certainly phony, but she had to record them anyway or violate a Kansas law specifying that a register of deeds must immediately accept and file all documents as long as they follow the proper form.

The only way for the property owners to get rid of the bogus deeds is to go to court — at their own expense — and get a judge’s order clarifying ownership, Buckingham said.

The person who files a fake deed can use it to borrow money by pledging the falsely claimed property as collateral, Buckingham said.

She said there’s no penalty for filing a fake document with her office, although “there should be.” In Kelley-El’s case, it’s probably moot anyway since he’s already serving life in prison.

Buckingham and County Clerk Kelly Arnold said they plan to ask the Legislature to rewrite the law when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January, to give them some mechanism to investigate suspicious filings.

The Whacky Shack, a popular ride at Wichita’s abandoned amusement park Joyland, was destroyed by a fire in August 2018.

Dion Lefler; 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

Chance Swaim: 316-269-6752, @byChanceSwaim
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