Saturday, December 17, 2016

Class Action Lawsuits To Begin Targeting Florida HOAs That Gouge Tenants For Excessive Application, Move-In Fees Over $100 Maximum Capped By State Law

In Miami, Florida, The Miami Herald reports:
  • A tenant is suing a Miami condo association over its excessive application and move-in fees, saying they violate state law.

    The lawsuit is the first of several class-actions that attorneys say they plan to file against condo associations over high fees. In June, the Miami Herald reported that condo boards routinely charge consumers hundreds of dollars more than state law allows. Florida statute caps the amount condos can charge to apply and move in at $100 per person.

    In a suit filed [] in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, August Lasseter says he was billed $625 in non-refundable fees when he signed a lease for a unit at one of the two high-rise towers at Quantum on the Bay last year. The charges broke down to $100 for a background check, $175 for “administrative review,” $125 for registration and $225 for move-in.

    “I questioned it at the time, but it’s not like you really have a choice,” said Lasseter, 37, who runs a modeling agency. “They say you pay it or you don’t move in.”

    Attorneys for the board, which was highlighted in the Herald’s initial story as the condo with the highest fees, said they had not yet been served and couldn’t comment.

    The Florida Condominium Act prohibits condo associations from charging fees of more than $100 per applicant “in connection with the sale, mortgage, lease, sublease, or other transfer of a unit.” (Married couples are considered one person and children are exempt.)

    Such fees are known as “transfer” fees because they concern the transfer of a unit from one owner or tenant to another.

    It’s shocking that associations are intentionally and knowingly charging these fees when they are improper even after the public attention from media coverage,” said Aaron Resnick, an attorney who is handling the suit. “It’s black-and-white. The law can’t be any clearer on what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. ... Knowledgeable condo associations and property management companies have been flouting the law for years. It’s a shame that it will take lawsuits to end this practice.”

    Resnick is working with South Florida attorneys Joshua Spector and Jonathan Feldman to file more suits across the states.

    “We’ve identified condo associations from Tallahassee to Jacksonville and Orlando to Tampa, but Miami is the most prevalent,” he said. “And we’ve found it’s not just the expensive condos that are doing this, it’s across the board. The wrong is the same, but the impact is even greater [on poorer residents].”

Chicago-Area County Official Slaps $122K+ In Tax Liens On One Landlord, $111K+ On Another, Each For Illegally Claiming Homestead Exemptions On Seven Rental Homes That Yielded Them Unentitled Tax Breaks

In Cook County, Illinois, the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
  • A suspended Harvey police officer is among at least 8,171 Cook County property owners who wrongly received tax breaks over the past decade on homes they didn’t live in — costing more than $24 million, a burden other taxpayers had to make up.

    Lemuel Askew — a Harvey cop for 30 years who’s awaiting trial on charges he bought stolen tools and other goods — is among the owners of 34,804 homes who got property-tax breaks they weren’t eligible for, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

    Askew got homeowner exemptions on seven homes, the records show. Under Illinois law, those tax breaks — which knocks $7,000 off a home’s assessed value — are only for a single, owner-occupied residence.
    ***
    Many of the homes that improperly received these tax breaks meant for people who live in their homes are instead rented out, the Sun-Times found — in some cases to tenants whose rent was covered by taxpayers through Section 8 federal housing vouchers for the poor.

    Askew has been slapped with liens for taxes, penalties and interest totaling $122,413 on seven homes on which he received homestead exemptions for as long as seven years.
    ***
    Five months ago, [Cook County Assessor Joseph] Berrios filed liens totaling $111,986 on seven south suburban homes owned by Robert E. Hall, a management consultant from Lincoln Park. Records show Hall received 48 illegal homeowner’s exemptions between 2009 and 2014 on homes he leases to tenants in Dolton, Hazel Crest and Riverdale.

    “I had no clue this happened,” Hall says. “I paid my taxes. Then, last winter, I got these letters.”

    Berrios’ office wrote to him, saying Hall needed to repay the tax breaks he’d received from homeowner’s exemptions, plus penalties and interest.

    Hall says he couldn’t afford to pay. So the assessor put a lien on each of the seven homes.

Homeowner Facing Foreclosure Intentionally Sets Of Home Explosion, Committing Suicide, Destroying Premises

In Spencer, Indiana, The Indianapolis Star reports:
  • A home explosion that killed an 84-year-old man, who was facing foreclosure, was not an accident, officials said [].

    According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the State Fire Marshal, the explosion was reported at 12:18 p.m. on Nov. 16 at a home located in [...] Spencer. Officials found the home destroyed and one victim inside. [...] Owen County Chief Deputy Coroner Lorna Dhom said his cause of death was trauma from the explosion’s shockwave, and his manner of death was ruled a suicide.

    Investigators initially found evidence at the scene that indicated that gas line valve may have been tampered with, but the cause of the blast was undetermined because of the extensive damage.

    Updated findings reveal that accelerants were found in several locations. The furnace was also missing a gas valve, and witnesses reported that [the homeowner] planned to blow up his house due to an impending foreclosure. A large number of gas cans were also seen in the garage and cardboard had been placed over foundation vents, officials said.

    Debris was scattered 200 yards from the home, and the damage was estimated at $400,000.

Serial Rent Scammer Gets Bagged Again For Allegedly Pocketing Deposit On Home She Didn't Own; Cops: Suspect Needed The Cash To Pay Court Costs For Earlier Escapades

In Orange County, Florida, WFTV-TV Channel 9 reports:
  • A woman who has been repeatedly charged with fraud has been accused again of renting out properties she doesn’t own and making off with the deposits, investigators said.

    Catherine Carpenter was arrested [] on charges that she took deposits on a condo she didn’t have the right to rent, which she used to pay court costs from previous scams using the same scheme, officials said.

    Carpenter was arrested in 2015 and charged with posing as a maid to clean a Paine Lane home and then stealing $800 worth of appliances and renting the residence to unsuspecting victims. In that case, she made off with $1,250 in deposits, investigators said.

    She was arrested and charged with a similar scam in 2014, court records show.

    In the 2016 case, she posted a Craigslist ad offering a condo on Semoran Boulevard for rent, officials said.

    Victims told Orange County sheriff’s deputies that Carpenter, claiming to be the property manager, gave them what looked like valid lease documents and took more than $1,400 in deposits and rent.

    The scam started to unravel when the renters became suspicious after Carpenter repeatedly told them that their move-in dates had to be pushed back, investigators said.

    She was arrested [] and charged with scheme to defraud for more than $300 by communication and third-degree grand theft of more than $300. She was being held at the Orange County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $7,500.

Scammers Target Real Estate Agents By Copying, Pasting Their Listings, Then Re-Posting Them On Craigslist For Use In Rent Scams

In Carthage, New York, WWNY-TV Channel 7 reports:
  • Lori Nettles is a real estate broker for TLC Real Estate in Carthage. Nettles says her office has received several phone calls lately about the company's real estate listings on Craigslist.

    The thing is, her company doesn't use Craigslist. "We're finding that for our rentals, they're being copied and posted on Craigslist by scammers," she said.

    Scammers will take listings right from a real estate company's website and make an ad of their own on Craigslist. The innocent person responds, sends a security deposit or first month's rent check without acutally meeting anyone in person.

    Nancy Storino is a real estate agent in Watertown and she says the last scam she had was a house that she actually owned.

    "They actually had a man's name that had called upon it that said he was the owner he wanted them to put a check in the mail for the security deposit and he would send them the lease and the key as soon as they sent the second check," said Storino.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Lifelong Resident In NYCHA-Managed Complex Faces The Boot Over Late Mom's Failure To Add Her To Lease Records; Housing Authority Temporarily Backs Off Bullying Removal Efforts After Being Met With Legal Action, Media Attention On Behalf Of Victim

In East New York, Brooklyn, the New York Daily News reports:
  • [Leatha] Harper, 20, is facing eviction from the only home she has ever known because her mother — who died last April — never listed Leatha’s name on the apartment’s family composition records kept on file by the [New York City] Housing Authority.

    As a result, NYCHA has summarily ruled that she has no right to remain in the East New York apartment — without even examining the more than 200 pages of documents showing that since 1996 she was raised there by Shirley Harper, whom Leatha affectionately called “Nana.” Shirley Harper legally adopted Leatha when she was 4.

    I have all the papers showing that I was here since I was a newborn,” Harper told the Daily News on Wednesday. “It really bothers me that they don’t understand the situation. It doesn’t make sense.”

    Leatha, on her own, appeared at hearings presided over by Samuel Bamiro, the housing project’s manager, and borough director Denise Brockington, who both said that she did not convince them of her longtime residency, according to court papers.

    After lawyer Jason Vendzules of Brooklyn Legal Services(1) took on her case, he amassed more than 200 pages of records from the Administration for Children’s Services, schools, hospitals, court and even the local pharmacy showing her continuing residence at the apartment.

    But NYCHA bureaucrats refused to grant her a new hearing and told Vendzules to take Harper’s beef to court.

    “They’re incapable of getting out beyond their paperwork to figure this out,” Vendzules said.

    So he took them up on their challenge and has filed a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court against NYCHA and its chairwoman, Shola Olatoye, to overturn the agency’s decision.

    After a Daily News inquiry, NYCHA spokeswoman Zodet Negron said, “We understand Ms. Harper’s personal connection to this apartment. She is able to remain living in the apartment as NYCHA reviews the circumstances of her case.”

    Harper is the youngest of four girls raised by Shirley Harper — two biological daughters and two foster children — in the apartment where she had resided since 1971. When baby Leatha was placed with her in foster care in 1996, Shirley’s daughters were adults and had moved out on their own.
For more, see Life-long resident at Brooklyn NYCHA home faces eviction because her late mother never added her name to list.
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(1) Brooklyn Legal Services is a part of Legal Services NYC, a non-profit organization providing legal services to low-income residents throughout New York City

Attention Zeroes In On Milwaukee Slumlords Routinely Using Multiple LLCs In 'Cat & Mouse' Game To Hide Ownership, Dodge Paying City Fines Incurred By Operating Dilapidated Rental Properties; Local Experts Encourage Municipal Officials To "Pierce The Corporate Veil" When Suing Sleazy Operators To Stop Them From Screwing Over City, Poor Tenants

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
  • Elijah Mohammad Rashaed, a major central city-landlord with a trail of code violations, court fines and lawsuits, has long frustrated Milwaukee building inspectors and creditors with a dizzying array of companies created to run some 180 rental properties.
    ***
    All of the companies are organized as limited liability companies, or LLCs, a setup that allows owners to keep their identities secret and protect personal assets from liabilities incurred by their businesses. In other words, the owners of an LLC do not risk losing the homes they live in if their business goes under or runs up huge debt.

    Rashaed and other landlords are routinely using LLCs to avoid paying fines incurred for renting out substandard, unsafe housing or for violating ordinances aimed at preserving neighborhoods.

    In all, LLCs owed the city nearly $3 million in past due fines for building code violations, as of Nov. 7. At least $9 million more is owed in delinquent property taxes. The fines, involving 777 LLCs, were imposed in 1,927 court cases dating to 2004.

    Yet the city does not go after Rashaed — or those behind other LLCs that own problem-plagued housing — personally to collect the money. City and court officials say it's difficult to determine true ownership and, if they could, those behind the LLCs are protected by law.

    But experts say there are ways to hold landlords accountable.

    "The law is not intended to protect abusive landlords," said Joseph Boucher, a Madison attorney who helped lead the State Bar of Wisconsin committee behind the state law on such entities. Boucher argued that a judge could be persuaded to allow the city to go after an LLC owner's personal assets.

    "When people use it to screw people over, you could pierce the veil" of protection, Boucher said.

    To April Hartman, an attorney for Legal Action of Wisconsin,(1) an organization that often represents tenants in disputes, the use of LLCs gives the landlords an unfair advantage.

    "You have these incredibly low-income people who are held responsible for every little thing," she said. "Then you have these landlords who could just hide behind these LLCs.

    "It's a mess — it’s a real mess."
    ***
    'It's not that complicated'

    City officials say the only way to get to the owner of an LLC is to "pierce the corporate veil" of the company. In order to meet that legal standard, creditors would have to prove the company is effectively the same as the owner and was created to commit fraud.

    Private attorneys say it isn't that hard.

    "The key is to follow the money in order to determine how to best get it," said Michael Polsky, a Milwaukee attorney who frequently works as a receiver and needs to chase down LLCs on behalf of creditors. "You may be able to follow payment to owners or third parties ... that were made to defraud creditors."

    Boucher, the Madison lawyer who helped write the LLC law, agreed the city could readily go after an owner.

    "It's not that complicated," he said. "You sue the guy and prove he's the owner.”

    The proof can come during a deposition, when an individual is required to answer questions under oath. "Now you've got him testifying with perjury potential,” said Boucher.
For more, see Landlords try to keep identities secret in cat-and-mouse game.
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(1) Legal Action of Wisconsin is a non-profit law firm that provides free legal services to low-income people in certain areas of legal practice, and serves 39 southern Wisconsin counties with offices in six cities.

Acquitted Of Manslaughter In Accidental Fire Resulting In Deaths Of Six Tenants Living In Prosecutor-Described Duplex "Death Traps", Rooming House Landlord Gets Three Months Jail Time On Related Misdemeanor Code Violation Conviction For Inadequate Means Of Escape From 3rd Floor Rooms

In Portland, Maine, The Associated Press reports:
  • The owner of a building in Maine where six people died in a fire following a Halloween party two years ago was sentenced [] to three months in jail for his misdemeanor conviction.

    Judge Thomas Warren also fined Gregory Nisbet $1,000. The sentence and fine come six weeks after the judge found Nisbet guilty of a code violation related to inadequate means of escape from third-floor rooms in his building. He was acquitted of his most serious charge, manslaughter.

    Prosecutors said the rooms he rented in the duplex in Portland were "death traps" for the people who died there after a fire broke out in 2014.

    Lisa Mazziotti, the mother of victim Nicole Finlay, said in court [] that she disagrees with Nisbet's acquittal of manslaughter charges but hopes his conviction and sentence for the code violation will make landlords aware of the consequences of dangerous apartments.

    "Landlords who knowingly allow these conditions to exist are going to kill someone," Mazziotti said. "Landlords all over the state are watching this case — will it underline the seriousness of the responsibility that falls on landlords?"
    ***
    The fire was determined to be accidental, blamed on improperly discarded smoking materials on a porch. It was the deadliest fire in Maine in four decades. Lawsuits stemming from the fire are still in the court system.

    The judge said a criminal penalty was warranted because three of the people who died would've had "some chance" if they'd been able to exit from the third floor.

    "This was a knowing violation of the code," he said.

Tenants' Secret Motion Detection Cam Allegedly Bags Landlord Illegally Entering Apartment, 'Frollicking' On Bed w/ Sex Partner; Felony Trespassing, Misdemeanor Obscenity Charges Pending

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, The Smoking Gun reports:
  • A Colorado landlord is facing a felony charge after a motion detection camera recorded him having sex with another man in a tenant’s apartment, police report.

    According to cops, Carlos Quijada illegally entered the Colorado Springs residence of Logan Pierce and Mikaela DiGiulio in late-November. While the married couple was not home, their four-camera Nest security system was guarding the condominium.

    After Quijada, 39, entered the residence, Pierce received a notification on his phone that the Nest system had detected noise in the apartment.

    When Pierce subsequently checked the camera feeds, he saw Quijada and another man inside his bedroom.

    The video shows the men each removing their pants immediately upon entering the room and then climbing atop the bed. Following a six-minute round of [... censored ...].

    Pierce, who provided the X-rated security video to TSG, said that the blue dress used as a post-sex clean-up rag was worn by his wife at the couple’s March wedding ceremony.

    Pierce and DiGiulio--who rented the $1100-a-month apartment after responding in July to a Craigslist ad--vacated the premises shortly after Quijada used their home as a hook-up spot. The couple is now living at a Super 8 hotel where DiGiulio is employed (and where Pierce works part-time).

    After being provided with the security footage, the Colorado Springs Police Department issued an arrest warrant charging Quijada with criminal trespassing, a felony, and misdemeanor obscenity.
Source: Landlord Caught Having Sex In Tenants's Bed (Security cam recorded perp's encounter with a male visitor).

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Louisiana Man Gets 30 Months For Role In Conspiracy To Pilfer Over $1.4 Million In Real Estate Escrow Funds; Yet-To-Be-Pinched Title Insurance Agent Co-Conspirator Remains A Fugitive

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Dallas, Texas):
  • Leonard James McMorris, of Rayville, Louisiana, was sentenced [...] to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1,417,903 in restitution, following his guilty plea in March 2016 to his role in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

    McMorris, 50, and co-conspirator, Constance Marie Kelly, 53, were indicted in February 2009 on the conspiracy and several substantive counts of wire fraud. McMorris was eventually arrested in the Western District of Louisiana in August 2015, and has remained in custody since his arrest. Kelly was never arrested and remains a fugitive.

    According to plea documents filed in his case, from approximately 2002 to 2007, McMorris and Kelly conspired to commit an extensive fraudulent scheme. During this period, Kelly worked for LandAmerica American Title Company (American Title), a title insurance agent engaged in title insurance transactions for real estate closings. As part of her duties, she had access to funds deposited in the American Title escrow account at Compass Bank.

    At various times in 2006 and 2007, as part of the scheme McMorris opened several business bank accounts at banks in Texas, including Bank of America, N.A., Bank One, N.A., Bank of Texas, N.A., and Compass Bank. During the conspiracy, Kelly used at least 11 checks and 51 wire transfers to fraudulently disburse approximately $1,417,904 of American Title escrow funds into several bank accounts in Texas that McMorris controlled. Kelly concealed from American Title that she made these unauthorized and fraudulent transfers to McMorris.

State Regulator Imposes Immediate License Suspension On Real Estate Broker/Property Manager For Escrow Account Violations; Accused Of Stiffing Landlords Out Of Collected Rent Proceeds, Failing To Account For Tenant Security Deposits, Nixing Cooperation w/ Investigators' Attempted On-Site Financial Audit Of Firm's Records

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, The Gazette reports:
  • The Colorado Real Estate Commission has suspended the license of Colorado Springs real estate broker Holly Dalton, after finding evidence of alleged misconduct and license law violations.

    Dalton, who also is known as Holly Nuss, also faces revocation of her license and fines of up to $35,000 for allegedly failing to account for funds she received, converting, diverting and commingling funds, unworthy and incompetent practice, dishonest dealing and failure to meet record keeping requirements, the commission said [] in a news release.

    She is a broker of Colorado Springs property management firm Premiere Properties and Management LLC, which does business as Encore Properties LLC.

    Investigators with the Colorado Division of Real Estate received "numerous" complaints from property owners that hired Dalton to manage their properties, stating she failed to deliver monthly rental proceeds to them, failed to account for tenant security deposits and didn't respond to email or telephone messages, the release said.

    Investigators unsuccessfully attempted to conduct an on-site financial audit of Dalton's records, so the division subpoenaed the bank records of her business, which found "sufficient evidence to substantiate continued harm to Colorado consumers."

    Marcia Waters, director of the real estate division, sought immediate suspension of Dalton's license based on those findings, which was imposed unanimously, the release said. Dalton cannot perform any duties requiring a Colorado real estate license during the suspension.

    "The license law requires that all money received in connection with property management agreements, such as rents and security deposits, be placed in an escrow account," Waters said in the release. The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado revoked Encore's accreditation in April and warned consumers in October against doing business with the company based on 13 complaints it received in the previous 12 months.

Miami Low-Income Housing Developer Gets Three Years For Stealing $16 Million In Tax Credit Housing Subsidies By Inflating Construction Costs, Pocketing Kickbacks; Sentencing Guidelines Called For 8-10 Year Sentence, But Defendant 'Buys Down' Prison Time By Paying Back Pilfered Benefits, Cooperating w/ Investigators In FBI/IRS Probe

In Miami, Florida, The Miami Herald reports:
  • Miami developer Matthew Greer, who pleaded guilty to stealing $16 million from a federal program that finances the construction of apartments for poor people, was sentenced [] to three years in prison.

    The former CEO of Carlisle Development Group apologized to U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro for his wrongdoing and for “casting a cloud” over an affordable-housing industry whose mission is to build homes for society’s most needy.

    “It pains me very deeply,” Greer, 38, said, choking up during his statement to the judge the previous day.

    Greer’s high-profile defense attorney, Roy Black, argued that Greer deserved no prison time because he pleaded guilty, cooperated with authorities, paid back the stolen money and has devoted his life to charity.
    ***
    Last year, the U.S. attorney’s office filed fraud charges accusing Greer and Carlisle founder Lloyd Boggio of conspiring with Biscayne Housing Group's co-founders Michael Cox and Gonzalo DeRamon, as well as with Fort Lauderdale contractor Michael Runyan and South Florida contractors Rene Sierra and Arturo Hevia.

    On Thursday, the judge sentenced DeRamon to 1 1/2 years in prison, but gave lenient probation sentences to Cox, Runyan, Sierra and Hevia.

    Boggio, 70, planned to go to trial in September but changed his mind at the last minute and pleaded guilty. He is scheduled for sentencing in December.

    Collectively, the four developers stole more than $34 million in federal housing subsidies — tax credits sold to investors — by inflating construction costs and receiving kickbacks, according to the charges. The three contractors, who paid the kickbacks, kept a portion of that money, too. Like Greer, Cox, DeRamon, Runyan, Sierra and Hevia pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy charges and are also cooperating witnesses.

    The federal sentencing guidelines for Greer’s offense ranged from eight to ten years in the housing fraud probe that disgraced the one-time CEO and Carlisle, which was started by his father, lawyer Bruce Greer, two decades ago. Bruce Greer and his wife, Evelyn, a lawyer who once served as mayor of Pinecrest and on the Miami-Dade school board, attended the hearing.

    On Wednesday, prosecutors recommended that the judge start at eight years and then reduce it by 40 percent for Greer’s assistance in the long-running FBI and IRS investigation — for a total sentence of about five years.

    Ungaro reduced their recommendation by two years, resulting in Greer’s three-year term. That set the bar lower for the other defendants.

    In total, prosecutors say, Greer, Boggio and the other defendants plundered tax credits to line their pockets from 14 government-subsidized projects built for the poor in Miami-Dade. All but one were built in Brownsville, Little Haiti and Overtown between 2007 and 2012.

    Greer and Boggio set up shell companies to collect illicit payments secretly, according to Sherwin and fellow prosecutor Michael Berger.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

NYC Feds Bust Suspected Debt Elimination Racket That Allegedly Filed Dozens Of Fraudulent Lien Satisfactions In Public Records On $33+ Million In Home Mortgages, Then Pocketed Substantial Portions Of Subsequent Refinancing Proceeds On Ostensibly Free & Clear Homes; Three Defendants In Custody, Two Others Remain On The Lam

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (NYC/White Plains):
  • Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, [and others], [] announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging five defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud in connection with a debt-elimination scheme to defraud homeowners and banks.

    Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “The defendants allegedly preyed on vulnerable homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments and, with their greed, victimized them further. When the defendants were done with the victims, after falsely promising to reduce or even eliminate their mortgage debt for fees, these homeowners were left much worse off, in even greater debt. With the charges today, and thanks to the investigative work of the FBI and HUD, the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”
    ***
    As alleged in the Indictment unsealed [] in White Plains federal court[1]:

    In at least 2011 and 2012, BRUCE LEWIS, 65, JACQUELINE GRAHAM, 47, and an unindicted co-conspirator were partners in a business that they called the Pillow Foundation or the Terra Foundation (collectively, “Terra”). Terra held itself out as a business that would investigate and eliminate mortgage debt in exchange for a fee. Terra solicited clients who were having difficulties making their mortgage payments.

    ANTHONY VIGNA, 59, was a lawyer who worked in-house at Terra and provided legal services to it and its clients. ROCCO CERMELE, 54, was Terra’s director of operations who recruited clients, among other duties. PAULA GUADAGNO, 58, was a real estate title professional who performed real estate title work for Terra.

    LEWIS, GRAHAM, VIGNA, CERMELE, GUADAGNO, and others at Terra told potential clients that Terra could eliminate their mortgage debt in exchange for a fee. In reality, Terra filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages at local county clerk’s offices in Westchester and Putnam Counties and in Connecticut. These fraudulent documents made it appear as if Terra’s clients’ mortgages had been discharged, when in fact they had not.

    To profit from their scheme, Terra and the defendants charged monthly fees that they said covered, among other things, audits of the clients’ properties that they often failed to perform. Terra and the defendants also encouraged their clients to take out second or reverse mortgages on the properties for which Terra had claimed to have discharged the first mortgages. Once the clients had taken out these second or reverse mortgages, Terra and the defendants retained substantial portions of the proceeds. Some of these second or reverse mortgages were made under HUD’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program.

    In total, Terra and the defendants filed nearly 60 fraudulent discharges in Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York and in Connecticut. The fraudulent discharges claimed to discharge mortgages with a total loan principal of over $33 million.

    In reality, the Terra clients for whom the fraudulent discharges were filed were often left with both a second or reverse mortgage and their original mortgage that had not actually been discharged.

    VIGNA, CERMELE, and GUADAGNO were taken into federal custody this morning and were presented in White Plains federal court [] before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy. LEWIS and GRAHAM remain at large.

NJ AG Files Civil Suit Alleging Trio Peddled Variety Of Bogus Foreclosure Avoidance Services To Defraud Financially Strapped Homeowners

From the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino, the Division of Consumer Affairs, and the Department of Banking and Insurance have filed an action against three North Jersey individuals and the companies they operated, for allegedly defrauding financially strapped consumers who paid for mortgage foreclosure rescue services to save their homes from foreclosure.

    Marcus A. Mullings, Jr. and Talia Stephen-Mullings, both of Fort Lee, and Jessie Sanders, of West Orange, through their company MVP Home Solutions LLC and its associated entities, charged substantial monthly fees for debt adjustment, foreclosure consulting and/or other services but failed to perform the promised services, according to a Complaint filed in Superior Court, Bergen County.
    ***
    The Complaint alleges the defendants misled and deceived consumers through the advertisement and sale of purported services offered through three programs:
  • The “Stay in Your Home” program which charged consumers monthly payments of $995 to $1,625 in exchange for promised services that included asserting legal defenses and forensic tactics, negotiating the purchase of their mortgage notes at a discount, and providing them with a new, lower-cost mortgage. Under the program, 60 percent of the monthly payments was to have been credited to the new mortgage payment, upon issuance of the new loan
  • The “Walk Away Free & Clear” program that charged consumers monthly payments of $995 to $1,625 in exchange for promised services that included asserting legal defenses and negotiating the sale of their homes and release of their mortgage loans (i.e. short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure sale)
  • The “Stop the Sale Date” program that charged consumers $1,095 upon signing, and $995 a month thereafter for a period of up to two years, in exchange for the promised service of stopping an imminent foreclosure sale.
  • The defendants misrepresented the services they would perform and falsely claimed that they would assert legal defenses, employ forensic accounting tools and/or utilize their expertise to pressure lenders to delay foreclosure proceedings or reduce the amount of the mortgage debt, according to the Complaint. In reality, the defendants’ only contact with consumers’ lenders was in sending a “cease and desist” letter, according to the Complaint.

Sleazy Real Estate Agent Gets Off Easy After Ripping Off Nearly $250K From Dozens Of Financially Distressed Homeowners In Loan Modification Scam; Avoids Hard Prison Time, Gets One Year In County Jail, Five Years Probation, Restitution Order; No Solace For Victims

In Petaluma, California, KGO-TV Channel 7 reports:
  • It was judgment day for a Petaluma man at the center of an ongoing investigation launched three years ago in a mortgage fraud case.

    A Sonoma County judge ordered Miguel Lopez to serve one year in jail and pay nearly $250,000 in restitution. Teary eyed victims sat in the courtroom watching it all go down.

    Lopez walked down the court hall and was greeted by his public defender before today's proceedings. Earlier today, 16 of the more than 80 victims sat in the same hallway anxiously waiting for the hearing to begin. They accused Lopez of taking their money and promising to reduce their mortgage payment. Instead, they said he did little but take their money.

    "We're deeper now than we ever were and we have no possibility of digging out," said Carol Saloman-Bryant, Petaluma.

    Back in October, Lopez pled no contest to grand theft and embezzlement. Sixty-three other charges were dropped. Tears streamed down victims' faces and sniffles could be heard in the courtroom as three of the victims read statements. One woman accused Lopez of exploiting her "vulnerability" to string her and her husband along.

    Dan Steele says the long ordeal caused him and others to lose faith in the system.

    "He has no remorse. No regret. He has no sympathy for anybody," said Steele.

    State prosecutor Caroline Chen asked the judge to increase the restitution from the previously agreed $100,000 to nearly $250,000. Judge Laforge agreed. He also sentenced Lopez to one year in jail and five years probation. Lopez was ordered to turn himself into jail on January 12.
    ***
    Most victims are likely to receive $1,995 in restitution, the fee Lopez charged. Some will receive much more if they were able to prove additional losses beyond just the fee.

    The defense plans to appeal [the] restitution order and will also request that Lopez be granted alternative sentencing or house arrest. [The] sentencing doubles the number of victims eligible for restitution from 40 to about 80.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Defendant Cops Guilty Plea For Fleecing Homeowners Out Of Over $100K In Foreclosure Avoidance Scam; Two Others Each Get 180 Days Jail Time For Their Roles In Ripoff

In Ventura County, California, the Ventura County Star reports:
  • A Canyon Lake man has pleaded guilty to two counts of foreclosure consultant fraud and three counts of felony grand theft, Ventura County prosecutors said [].

    Patrick Iturra, 46, ran a fraudulent business under the name of Mercury Business Group, prosecutors said. He promised homeowners he could save their properties from foreclosure, prosecutors said. In return, Iturra received thousands of dollars from homeowners, although he failed to help them, prosecutors said. Homeowners suffered more than $100,000 in losses.

    Iturra faces a year in jail and "will be ordered to pay restitution to the victims" when he is sentenced at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 16, prosecutors said.

    Two of Iturra's co-defendants, Roberto Sanchez, 67, and Rosalva Sanchez, 63, both of Oxnard, were each sentenced to 180 days in jail and ordered to pay victim restitution after pleading guilty to felony grand theft and foreclosure consultant fraud, prosecutors said.

Southeastern Ohio Logger Gets Four Years For Stealing Over $2 Million In Timber By Gutting 700 Acres Of Dense Forest Belonging To Elderly Out-Of-Town Landowner

In Vinton County, Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reports:
  • A southeastern Ohio logger has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing more than $2 million in timber from land owned by an elderly Grove City resident.

    Vinton County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Simmons also ordered Mark Betts, the owner of Betts Logging, to pay $2,025,088 in restitution, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a news release.

    Betts, 53, of McArthur, was sentenced [] after he pleaded guilty last month to theft, a court spokeswoman said. Betts admitted that he cut trees from the victim's property without permission and stole the timber between April 2007 and September 2010.

    Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Vinton County Sheriff's Office and a forestry expert found that Betts illegally harvested hundreds of acres of trees from the victim's land on Goose Creek and Dunkle Creek roads near McArthur, and then sold the timber to sawmills for more than $578,000, DeWine said.

    "This defendant gutted approximately 700 acres of dense forest by taking advantage of the fact that the landowner could not regularly visit his property due to his advanced age," DeWine said. "The victim truly cared about preserving nature, so the ravaging of his property was devastating. I am pleased that my office was able to get justice for both the victim and his family."

    The victim, Roy A. Waldron, who was in his 80s, died while the case was pending, a court spokeswoman said.

    DeWine said his office prosecuted the case as part of his Elder Justice Initiative, a program he began in 2014 to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder-abuse cases.

Couple Discovers They Don't Own The Backyard Of Their Recently-Purchased Home When They Receive Notice Of Upcoming Foreclosure Sale For Non-Payment Of Real Estate Taxes; Failure To Get Land Survey Before Buying Explains Why They Were Unaware That Premises Had Been Split Into Multiple-Lot Parcel

In Fircrest, Washington, KOMO News reports:
  • A Pierce County couple has learned their backyard in going on the public auction block [].

    Newlyweds Sarah and Jason Kriess purchased their Fircrest home last March, but recently learned the backyard they thought they owned isn’t their property.

    “The property line ends at the cement,” said Sarah Kriess. “So we only own about a foot out our back door.”

    On November 18, the couple received some unexpected mail – a filer that their backyard was for sale. “I was shocked and surprised,” said Jason Kriess.

    Turns out the house’s story took a turn back on the late 1980’s when the Washington State Department of Transportation condemned the land for road right of way, then years later sold it back to the then owner.

    But, that owner never completed a boundary line adjustment. The house eventually went into foreclosure and the property taxes weren’t paid.

    “It was a matter of public record and it could have been determined,” said Jane Koler who is a land use and property lawyer. But, it was missed by several realtors, banks and a title company – no one seemed to know the property had been split into more than one parcel.

    “We are hoping no one wants to buy our backyard and that we can buy it for the minimum amount on Monday - please don't buy our back yard,” said Sara Kriess. The couple hopes to pay around $3,000 for the land they thought they already owned. “We just want to build our fire pit and enjoy our backyard when it gets warm again,” said Sarah Kriess.

    There are currently no laws on the books preventing another person from buying the land at the public.
Source: Pierce County couple learns their backyard is for sale.

For the follow-up to this story, see Sold! This couple is the proud new owner of their backyard:
  • The auction bell has rung, and Sarah and Jason Kriess now own their Fircrest backyard. “We can build our fire pit and enjoy our backyard,” Sarah Kriess said Tuesday morning, “and throw a backyard warming when it’s not 40 degrees out.”

    Kriess was the sole bidder in an online auction at which the two parcels that make up the couple’s backyard were listed for sale by Pierce County’s facilities management department.

    The couple spent just over $2,500 to buy the land outside their back door that they had thought they already owned. “It’s an expensive lesson learned, but it could have been way worse,” Kriess said. “Now we can look back and laugh at it.”

    The Kriesses have tried to find humor in the convoluted story about how the backyard was not included in the March purchase of their Columbia Avenue home.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stalled Florida Foreclosure Cases To Be Brought Back To Life After State High Court Ruling Neuters Statute Of Limitations Defense

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:
  • Delinquent South Florida homeowners could be getting long-delayed foreclosure notices after a court ruling cleared the way for lenders to revive cases that have stalled for years.

    The Florida Supreme Court ruled last month that lenders can refile foreclosure cases against owners still in default, even if the cases started more than five years ago, beyond the statute of limitations.

    "It definitely gives banks more privileges to bring cases back to life," said Jerry Tepps, a foreclosure defense lawyer in Sunrise.

    Among those worried about what happens next is Adam Broder, who paid $386,000 for a two-bedroom condominium in Delray Beach in April 2005, just before the housing market collapsed.

    He stopped making payments in 2009, he said, and hoped to get a mortgage modification. Instead, his lender, BAC Home Loans Servicing, filed a foreclosure action that BAC later dismissed voluntarily, records show.

    The case has been in limbo for seven years. "I just want to settle at this point and get on with my life," said Broder, 36. "But the ruling gives [BAC] as much room as they want to start all over again."

    It's unclear how many other Florida homeowners will face foreclosure as a result of Bartram v. U.S. Bank National Association.
    ***
    Although the court's ruling favors lenders, it does provide hope to owners who want to keep their homes, said [Thomas] Ice, [a] Royal Palm Beach attorney. While lenders can refile cases that were started more than five years ago, they can't collect on missed payments beyond five years, Ice said.

    He cited as an example a hypothetical homeowner who defaulted in 2007. The foreclosure was filed in 2008 but later dismissed. In refiling the case now, the lender can collect only the missed payments going back to 2011. The missed payments from 2007-2010 are wiped out.

    Ice said homeowners and their attorneys should make sure the lenders aren't trying to collect more past-due payments than they're allowed.
For more, see Court ruling lets lenders bring stalled foreclosures 'back to life' (Court ruling clears way for lenders to refile stalled foreclosures).

HOA Tags Its Ex-Treasurer With Civil Racketeering Lawsuit Accusing Him Of Pilfering Approximately $1.3 Million In Homeowners' Maintenance Fees

In White Plains, New York, the New York Post reports:
  • The other Trump Tower — in White Plains — is in financial trouble after the condominium discovered its longtime treasurer had been allegedly stealing cash for years, according to a lawsuit filing.

    Frank Palazzolo, a real estate investor who was named one of the city’s 10 worst landlords by a former city housing commissioner, used the condo’s funds as his own personal “piggy bank” and covered his tracks with fake account statements, according to a suit brought by the condo board on Monday.

    The alleged theft, which the condo estimates at $1.3 million, has left the Westchester Trump Tower “in a precarious financial position — unable to pay for basic services and exposed to significant litigation risk,” said the Manhattan federal court filing.

    Neither Palazzolo nor his wife Mary — also named as a co-defendant — returned a request for comment.

    The civil racketeering suit says Palazzolo, who runs several companies out of the Palazzolo Plaza in Scarsdale, siphoned off as much as $8.7 million from the Westchester Trump Tower over the years. He did it by moving money from the condo’s accounts into accounts he controlled, the suit said.

    But he also pulled dirty tricks such as collecting over $200,000 in utility payments from tenants in the condo’s commercial spaces — and then leaving the residents to pick up the tab, the lawsuit said.

    Palazzolo, 64, used the money to make other real estate investments, including money to buy three foreclosed units in the Westchester Trump Tower for himself, the lawsuit said.

    He also used it to line the pockets of people who helped him with the alleged scheme, including board members who were named as co-defendants, the lawsuit said.

Woman Who Admitted She Siphoned $53K While Serving As Officer For HOA Buys Her Way Out Of Jail Time By Returning Pilfered Cash; Gets Probation

In Cambria County, Pennsylvania, The Tribune-Democrat reports:
  • A Richland Township woman was placed on probation after she paid back money taken from a homeowners' association, authorities said.

    Julianna T. Zamias, 33, paid $53,000 restitution to Skyview Estates Homeowners' Association.

    She appeared before Cambria County President Judge Norman Krumenacker III on Nov. 22 and was placed on the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Green said.

    "The association is happy they were able to get reimbursement," Green said.

    Township police charged Zamias and her parents, Dennis P. Michaels, 57, and Julia S. Michaels, 62, with stealing more than $84,000 from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2013, while they were officers in the association.

    Dennis Michaels earlier was placed on probation after paying restitution.

    Criminal charges against Julia Michaels were withdrawn.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lot-Leasing Homeowners In Northern Virginia Trailer Park Begin Withholding Rent As Part Of Legal Battle To Get Aging Sewer System Repaired & Dodge Boot From Premises Slated For February Sale & Eviction

In Manassas, Virginia, The Washington Post reports:
  • Residents of a troubled mobile home park in Northern Virginia are withholding their monthly rents in hopes of forcing long-needed sewerage repairs — although the money seems unlikely to be used for that purpose, according to the landowner and city officials.

    So far, 38 residents of the East End Mobile Home Park have paid a total of $24,000 to Prince William County’s General District Court instead of to the mobile home park as part of a process known as a “tenant’s assertion and complaint,” which is meant to protect renters in Virginia living in squalid conditions.

    The residents — who pay lot fees of between $350 and $600 per month to live at the park — face eviction at the end of February. The land on which they park their mobile homes is being bought by the city of Manassas for $1.86 million, after years in which the city tried in vain to get the landlord to repair the leaky private sewer system.

    An attorney for the landlord said she does not make enough from the lot fees to pay for the repairs, and city officials say they will empty the park and resell the land rather than trying to make it habitable for the current residents.

    Since the pending purchase was announced by Manassas officials in April, the East End residents have banded together in search of a way to remain at the mobile home park, which offers a rare form of relatively affordable housing in the increasingly pricey Prince William area.

    So far, according to city records, none of the residents have applied for the relocation money the city has offered, which could be as much as $2,300 per household.

    “The people who are living there have built a life for themselves in that community,” said Jonathan Francis, an attorney representing the East End residents in a collection of complaints that [we]re scheduled for a Dec. 9 hearing in the General District Court. “The majority of their equity and lives have been put into their mobile homes.”
    ***
    With the battle brewing, residents are trying to figure out their options while living with the stench of raw sewage that emanates from an open trench at one end of the park.

    “I’m not sure what we’ll do,” said Alejandro Reyes, 28, inside the two-bedroom mobile home that he and his wife, Yorceli Reyes, bought for $23,000 shortly before the city announced it was buying the property.

    Options for cheap housing in the area for them and their two young children are scarce, and they do not know of another mobile home park that has room.

    “We’d have to find an apartment or something,” said Yorceli Reyes, 27. “But nothing we could afford would have enough space.”

Roughly Three Dozen Low-Income Residents In Extended-Stay Motel Brace For Xmas Boot As Deteriorating Premises Falls To Foreclosure

In Pensacola, Florida, the Pensacola News Journal reports:
  • Call it a last stand. A small showing of defiance in the face of futility.

    Residents sat outside the front office of the newly foreclosed Hospitality Inn waiting for someone official to show up with their eviction notices. The motel's old management had already closed up shop and abandoned ship. They left behind a smattering of dusty office supplies, a washer and dryer set that was all but useless with the building's water shut off, and a phone number with a note that tenants could make their complaints to the bank that now owned the property.

    The roughly three dozen residents of the Hospitality Inn, an extended-stay motel off Mobile Highway, had been informed Friday the former owners, Jangir Inc., had lost the building to EH National Bank due to non-payment of the mortgage. Tenants had also been told they should be prepared to vacate the premises within 24 hours. Some 72 hours later, few residents had actually left. Largely, they had nowhere else to go.

    "We're just squatting until we get our notices," Mei Ling Mahurin explained with a mixture of humor, anger and resignation. "At least for the moment, we have electricity."

    Mahurin said none of the residents had known the foreclosure was coming, and that many had paid the next week's rent before they were told they were being kicked out. She said on average, residents were paying between $150-$250 a week in rent, and most residents had a fixed income or disability.

    "There's a lot of people who need help," Mahurin said. "We're all stuck ... it'd be different if (we were being evicted because) we didn't pay, but we pay our rent."
    ***
    [Bank attorney John] Fraiser said the bank plans to give Hospitality Inn residents 30 days to seek new housing. He also said the water at the inn was shut off because Jangir failed to make payments to the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority. He noted EH National was working to have the water turned back on.

    "We've been in the community a long time, and we don't want any tenants to be disenfranchised in this way," Fraiser said of his law firm. He said of EH National, "They certainly don't want to cause any more pain or damage than Jangir has already caused."

    A representative of Jangir Inc. could not be reached for comment Monday.

    Dale McGowan, 69, has been living at the Hospitality Inn for the past few months. The hotel had been in bad shape as long as he'd been there. In empty hallways, insulation and wooden beams were visible through holes in the ceiling. Trash littered hallways and boards covered the windows in one rear building. Passing an empty swimming pool, he noted the only time he'd seen water in it was "when it rains."

    McGowan's parents and siblings have already passed away. He doesn't have a car, and two heart attacks have made walking long distances difficult, if not impossible. He said he stayed indoors at night for fear of who might be outside.

    Still, "It's better than being on the street," he said.

    With no hotel staff to stop them, three children whooped and hollered as they ran through the complex. McGowan shook his head sadly as he listened to them play.

    "I feel sorry for the kids," he said. "They're happy, but they don't know where they're going to be next," he said.

    Legal Services of North Florida(1) is helping residents affected by the foreclosure understand their rights. The organization can be reached at 432-8222.
For more, see Residents await eviction at foreclosed motel.
------------------------
(1) Legal Services of North Florida (LSNF) is a private, not-for-profit law firm serving eligible low-income individuals and families in certain civil (as opposed to criminal) matters, including Family Law, Housing, Public Benefits, Employment, Education, and Health Care issues. LSNF serves the sixteen counties across the central and western panhandle of Florida. According to their website, LSNF never charges a fee to a client; however, clients may be responsible for court costs.

Another Assisted Living Facility To Bite The Dust, Leaving Over 70 Elderly Residents & Their Loved Ones To Begin Scrambling For Alternative Accommodations; Closure Set For Dead Of Winter

In Waterloo, Iowa, KWWL-TV Channel 7 reports:
  • Imagine learning you have a few weeks to find a new place to live, days before Thanksgiving.

    More than 70 assisted living residents received that news [], and they're concerned where to go.

    Ridgeway Place residents and their families said they were called to a special meeting [], and officials announced the facility would be closing its doors in February.

    Jim Scheppele was visiting his 98-year-old mother, Hazel Scheppele, on Wednesday. Jim said, "We're calling a lot of the other facilities, and we're hearing a lot of them are full or on a waiting list, it's not panic, but we're wondering what the heck we're going to do."

    Families who have traveled across the United States to see their loved ones here at Ridgeway Place this Thanksgiving say now they have to worry about where to relocate their loved ones during the holidays.

    Adding, it's bad timing for everyone.

    "I"m really disappointed to find that she has such a short time, that even if they are closing that it's going to happen in the middle of winter. Obviously it's a really difficult time for the elderly to be moving around and making arrangements that time of the year," visitor Sean Brown said.

    Brown flew with his family from New Jersey to visit Hazel, and he said he wishes there were more answers. "We're still not sure why this is even happening or what the cause of this is. I guess, we'll find out shortly," Brown said.

    Jim and Sean tell me Hazel has been a resident of Ridgeway for nearly 12 years, and they have until February to find a new home for Hazel.

    According to a company spokesperson, they closed because they're going out of business, even though they tried to find other people to continue to operate the assisted living facility.

Operator Of Assisted Living Facility Abruptly Goes Out Of Business, Leaving Dozens Of Elderly Residents Incapable Of Independent Living (ie. Dementia, Mobility Issues, etc.) Facing The Boot, Getting Short Notice To Pack Up & Leave

In Des Moines, Iowa, The Des Moines Register reports:
  • Anxiety was high [] at an assisting living center across from Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, where dozens of elderly residents were notified [] they might have to move before Christmas.

    The owners of Walden Point Assisted Living gave the state 90 days’ notice that it was no longer going to be licensed as an assisted living complex, instead becoming an independent living facility, because their primary contractor, Brightstar Care of Ankeny, abruptly ended services.

    Residents who feel they need a higher level of care in assisted living will have to move from the facility [...] by Dec. 16. In the interim, services are being provided by a temporary contractor.

    The Rev. James Craig contacted the Reader’s Watchdog, wondering what residents, most in their 80s and 90s, were supposed to do. He said most of the residents need help with basic living, including medications, and many cannot walk without assistance.

    “Many are unable to find an alternative place to live without assistance, and will have to live at Walden Point without assistance or potentially be homeless or forced to make hasty decisions about where to live, or be forced into the homes of family or friends,” he wrote.

    At a meeting [] with residents, Jesse Burns, who represented Walden Point’s owners, said Brightstar, the service provider, gave the facility no notice it was ending its service contract. “That’s never happened before in 23 years I’ve been in this business,” he said.

    Burns said the facility looked for a permanent replacement to Brightstar to take over the assisted living responsibilities and couldn’t find one, so it had to make a decision to change its licensing status.

    Workers said they were scrambling to see which residents could continue to live at Walden Point with services provided from independent home care agencies.

    DHS said the state's managed care providers were working with case managers for residents to provide services that could be provided under Medicaid.

    Residents who determine they have to move will receive deposits back and have their housing payments pro-rated, he said.

    At the meeting, family members expressed anger and concern for residents — some of whom have dementia, mobility issues and other disabilities. They also worried about meals, security and other services after the assisted living de-certification is complete in mid-December.

    But officials from Iowa’s Department of Inspections and Appeals and Department of Human Services said they would be monitoring to make sure residents receive care, medication and other services until the transition is made. Some services can be covered by Medicaid and Medicare if a resident doesn't need an assisted living facility.

    “My understanding is that they got a call from Brightstar saying they are out of business,” said Dave Werning, a spokesperson for the inspections department. “They have contracted with a temporary contractor for the time being. Our concern is that they continue to receive services until they’ve been relocated. Those who have to be relocated will be relocated.”

    Werning said Iowa’s Long Term Care Ombudsman was also assisting with residents’ transitions.
Source: Elderly may be forced to move before Christmas.

For a story update, see Iowa developers twice stripped elderly services after getting millions in tax credits:
  • Father-and-son developers from Iowa City have received more than $26.4 million in federal tax credits to provide affordable assisted-living care for Iowa seniors — but they twice have decided to pull services and eliminate oversight of their facilities, state agency records show.
    ***
    The contractual agreement hinged on a promise that the licensed assisted-living center would offer support services to seniors for 50 years, according to the Iowa Finance Authority, which approves the federal credits and oversees compliance.
    ***
    "This has been a nightmare for residents," said the Rev. James Craig, who has been trying to help members of his congregation at the center. "Even for those who can stay, this is creating major problems."

    Craig said he's been told by an administrator that about 44 units are filled at the 64-unit facility, and all but 10 residents are trying to stay. Many of the residents are more than 80 years old and have dementia and other health problems, he said.

    "Most thought this would be their forever home when they moved in," he said.

Residents In 5-Bedroom Home Used As 28-Bed Flophouse Get Immediate Boot; Eviction Triggered When Cops Responded To Domestic Disturbance Complaint, Referring Observations Of Unpermitted Boarding House To City Code Enforcement Officials For Red-Tagging

In Monterey Park, California, The Pasadena Star-News reports:
  • The city could sue the owners of a home on Newmark Avenue allegedly being used as an illegal motel/boarding house, it announced [].

    The five-bedroom, three-bathroom home at 312 East Newmark Avenue was filled with 28 beds in the house, garage and other temporary structures in the backyard, according to a city statement.

    Unpermitted boarding houses or “residential motels” typically come in the form of single-family houses or condos in which 20-to-30 people live at a cost of about $10 per day

    The city originally became aware of the potential boarding house when police officers responded to a domestic disturbance complaint at the home []. Monterey Park police found that the alleged disturbance had taken place the night before, according to the city statement.

    The responding officers noted the house looked to be an unpermitted boarding house, shortly thereafter, city code enforcement found multiple violations including unpermitted building construction, unpermitted boarding house activity and noncompliant garage and accessory structures, the statement said.

    By Oct. 31, the city building official had placed a red tag on the building, a designation indicating the structure was seriously damaged and unsafe, according to the city. The tag instructs anyone who would seek to enter the house not to until the tag is removed by the city.
    ***
    Edward Ortega has lived in the home across the street from 312 East Newmark for 55 years. He said he knew the home was being used to house more people than is legal, but he never sought to report them because they weren’t a nuissance.

    They probably have no money and have to sleep on mattresses on the floor throughout the house,” Ortega said. “What can you do? That’s life. I feel bad for them in that sense.”

    Ortega said [] he saw police escorting residents out of the house, with many of them calling friends to pick them up.