KEITH GORMEZANO Unraveling a silk web? Joel Sanders
Keith Gormezano is practically on a first-name basis with security guards at a U.S. court at Sixth Avenue and Seneca Street. That's because every week, Gormezano stops in to check on the case of his former employer, famed local architect Stuart Silk. Silk has won several awards for designing upscale homes for Seattle's rich and famous; on June 11, Silk filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing at least $5 million in debt to various people.

"It's all public information," says Gormezano, who posts Silk's filings--which he gets for seven cents a page--on the web. But on Friday, September 26, Gormezano didn't go to the clerk's office to check up on Silk's papers. He was there to file his own. Silk, you see, is now suing Gormezano for meddling in the bankruptcy case, and Gormezano had a brief to file in response. "We've been battling over the last couple of months, because [Silk] doesn't like the fact that I've been writing to his creditors," Gormezano says.

Gormezano--a late-40s guy with a dry wit, and hobbies like calling in junk cars to be towed, crusading against smoking in bus shelters, and inventing a fake entrepreneur history to see if millionaires' lists can be fooled into ranking him, which he details on his personal website--has posted 99 documents to his website on Yahoo! groups. He's used up 75 percent of his allotted 20,480 KB of space, posting things like court documents, copies of letters he's written to Silk's associates, plus amendments he's proposed Silk should make to his financial disclosures.

Why is Gormezano going to so much trouble? First of all, he considers himself a whistleblower, doing his part to curb corporate abuse by monitoring Silk's bankruptcy filings. He wishes Enron's accountants had done something like this, early on. "We don't like multimillionaires--like Stuart--who don't follow the rules," Gormezano says. Gormezano, whose status as a former employee who kept Silk's books gives him plenty of insight into the architect's finances, has offered his take on Silk's money situation to Silk's numerous creditors. At least five have called him for more information, he says. (Silk, for his part, says his filings are accurate. "I made a mistake [concerning debt], and I'm trying to desperately move on with my life. Keith is preventing me from doing that.")

The second reason for keeping such a close eye on the bankruptcy case is that Gormezano claims Silk owes him money. Gormezano--listed as a creditor in the case--says he has a pending labor claim against Silk, filed after his job ended in February. He says he blew the whistle on what he deemed discriminatory hiring practices--he claims Silk passed over a black woman in favor of a white man for a marketing position--and lost his job as a result. Silk however, bristles at the allegations, saying he's never discriminated at his firm. "I hire people based on ability," Silk says. Moreover, Silk says, the alleged discrimination situation happened over a year ago, and Gormezano quit in February. "He called me a sociopath in an e-mail, and said he was going to look for work elsewhere," Silk says. "Now he wants $3.5 million from me. He's a very bitter, very disgruntled man."

Silk, via his attorneys, sent Gormezano a cease-and-desist letter on August 11, asking him to quit writing letters and posting the bankruptcy documents on his website. "You have been taking a number of actions that are interfering with and disrupting the Bankruptcy Case and Mr. Silk's ability to make a living," the letter said. "All I want him to do is stop. I just want him to stop," Silk says.

But Gormezano didn't stop. So on August 29, Silk filed a suit against Gormezano, asking for an injuction to end the website and Gormezano's correspondence--which Silk says went out to at least 1,000 people, including former and current clients, friends, suppliers, contractors, and even members of boards and a private club that Silk is part of. "The basic belief by Stuart is Keith [Gormezano] is a disgruntled former employee," explains Silk's attorney, Brian Meenaghan.

"You can't prohibit someone from publishing court documents on a website, but... bankruptcy prohibits creditors and other individuals from harassing a debtor," Meenaghan explains. Silk agrees: "The guy is a complete nutcase. The suit we filed is to stop him from trying to ruin my reputation."

Gormezano doesn't seem fazed by the suit, and he plans to--surprise!--represent himself. Both sides will meet in court on October 9.