I was taken aback today when news crossed my desk that Clayton Morris and his wife Natali and their kids moved from New Jersey to Portugal under a cloud of civil litigation alleging that Clayton has committed fraud against various investors in real estate. See the news here (Washington Examiner) and here (USA Today).
Why I am taken aback is for years I have listened to both Clayton and Natli. Both of them were tech people on the internet. For almost 20 years I have been following and listening to Leo Laporte, the king of tech on the internet and podcasting. For many years, both Natali and Clayton, who had separate tech careers, were guests on Leo Laporte’s podcasts. Natali was also co-host of another popular podcasts called Buzz Out Loud. She was then single and known as Natali Del Conti. Clayton Morris for years was the tech guy on Fox’s Fox and Friends. At some point they got married and it was really cool that two tech celebrities on the internet found each other. (Although now an internet search shows me Clayton was married and may have gotten Natali pregnant while married to his first wife.)
So a couple of years ago, I thought they did a weird move. They quit doing tech and instead did a real estate program where they were trying get investors to purchase real estate. I listed to one of the podcasts and I didn’t like it because it sounded like they were trying to make investors believe they could make easy money investing in real estate. Among other things, they created something called Morris Invest and did podcasts telling people how they could make a lot of money through real estate. They also had a Youtube channel pitching investment advice.
I found thier pitches on the podcast and YouTube to be creepy. It sounded like hard pitches and that the Morris were primarily interested in making money.
Well things started coming out about the Morrises this past spring when on March 25, 2019, the New York Times reported various civil suits filed by investors into Clayton Morris pitch accusing him and his company of fraud.
Then within recent days the press has reported that the Morris have left the country and moved to Portugal. Natali Morris confirmed this on her website.
Natatli Morris is claiming that she and her husband are innocent:
Last month my family and I moved abroad. We have many reasons for this but the other day at our visa application appointment, I realized that the main motivation was the same thing that has pushed generations of parents across borders: to seek a better life for their family.
I am not one of those who rejects America. We had a good life there. But my husband and I have had a hard few years in our business and this has forced us to question everything. 1
It is not a smart move for them to move to Portugal while there are all these lawsuits claiming that they swindled various investors. It looks like they are running away with the money to Portugal. If the lawsuits go to trial and they don’t show up they will look guilty for running away. Even if they come back for depositions and a civil trial it still looks bad that they left the country, particularly if they took the money with them.
Also, if they are concerned about a criminal case, it is not a good plan to run away to Portugal.
I keep wondering what Leo Laporte and other tech people on the internet who knew them think about this.
I guess this saga will play out on the coming years.