Sunday, August 30, 2015

Crackpot Serving Five Years For Obtaining Property By False Pretenses When He Attempted To Hijack Title To Vacant $800K NC Home To Ask State Supremes To Nix Conviction

In Raleigh, North Carolina, The Associated Press reports:
  • North Carolina's crippled housing market was limping along when Shawn Pendergraft decided he'd take over a foreclosed Raleigh home in 2011. He backed up a moving van, unpacked his belongings and changed the locks.

    But he never paid for the $800,000 house, instead filing a bogus document with the Wake County register of deeds staking an ownership claim he had no legal right to make.

    Pendergraft, 43, was convicted of a felony for obtaining property by false pretenses and sentenced to more than five years in prison. On Wednesday, his lawyer will ask the state Supreme Court to throw out his conviction.

    Pendergraft's squatting scheme was part of a wave of hundreds of frivolous property claims at a time registrars were already dealing with a flood of foreclosures amid the Great Recession's housing market collapse. Flimflam artists were occupying foreclosed homes in Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey, California and elsewhere across the country.

    In North Carolina's most populous county, more than 200 of the bad filings were filed in 2011, said J. David Granberry, Mecklenburg County's register of deeds. Many were written in confusing pseudo-legal jargon, some making outlandish claims about being exempt from U.S. law.

    “Lump ‘em together in the wacky document category and we still get a lot of them,” Granberry said. “They don't really mean anything. They have a lot of jibber-jabber and some quotes from statutes.”

    But since this spring there's been a sharp drop in fake deeds transferring ownership, such as Pendergraft used, through the misguided application of the actual legal concept of adverse possession, Granberry said.

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