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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What was the real reason that our house went into foreclosure immediately after my release from jail?

We have pointed to evidence that suggests the real reason Rob Riley and Liberty Duke included my wife as a defendant in their defamation lawsuit was so they could have her unlawfully arrested, along with me. With both of us kidnapped and locked away in jail, that meant our house would be unoccupied and someone could rifle through it in search of damaging information about certain conservative interests--material I was planning to use for the Legal Schnauzer blog.

We called that Plan A behind the Riley/Duke lawsuit and noted the likelihood that we would have been killed if we refused to cave into whatever demands they planned to make of us as kidnap victims. That plan was foiled when Carol managed to escape being abducted on the night I was arrested--I heard officers talking about trying to get her that night--and when Shelby County deputies made three visits to our house during the first week I was in jail. After that, the story of my arrest--thanks largely to Carol's efforts and reports by Peter B. Collins and Andrew Kreig--started spreading rapidly around the Web and in mainstream news outlets. It appears Alabama law-enforcement thugs decided it was best to leave Carol alone once the story of my arrest got out.

Keep in mind that the Riley/Duke lawsuit was sealed at the time, and the sealing almost certainly had nothing to do with litigation-related concerns. It was done so that, once Carol and I were in custody, the public would have no way of knowing what happened to us. And it would have provided almost absolute cover had we been murdered.

Carol's ability to remain free and communicate with news outlets threw a major wrench into Plan A. But that doesn't mean the politicos behind the Riley/Duke scheme did not have a Plan B. And that likely involved the foreclosure on our house.

About three days before I was released from jail, I learned that our home was threatened with foreclosure. Trust me when I say that you haven't lived until you've learned about a foreclosure while having been kidnapped and thrown in jail. I can't imagine many worse circumstances, short of learning that all of your loved ones have died in a plane crash.

When I arrived home from jail, it was not exactly a joyous occasion. Yes, I was thrilled to be free, and I think Mrs. Schnauzer was glad to have me home (for the most part). But under the law, we had less than 30 days to try to save our house--and with both of us having been cheated out of our jobs and me suffering from the PTSD associated with having been kidnapped and jailed--we had almost no way to save it. About our only hope was to file for bankruptcy, but we did not qualify for the two primary options--Chapter 13 and Chapter 7.

To make matters worse, a wealthy individual from west Alabama (who shall remain nameless, for now) contacted us and promised to help save our house. We went back and forth with him for roughly three weeks, honestly answering every question that he had, only to have him renege at virtually the last minute. We later discovered that this individual has longstanding ties to University of Alabama trustee Paul Bryant Jr., so we now suspect this person never had any intention of helping us stave off foreclosure. In fact, it appears he conned us from the outset.

That pretty much ensured that we would lose our home of almost 24 years. We had to pack up our things, under extraordinary duress, and try to find another place to live in just a few days' time. We faced the very real possibility of homelessness. In fact, that still is a possibility, although we have shelter for the time being.

We had lived at 5204 Logan Drive since March of 1990. We had made our mortgage payment on time for roughly 23 years--and of the people living in the 24 or so houses on our street, I'm pretty sure we had been there longer than anyone.

Someone else now lives at that address, while we have been forced to live like refugees. Are the current occupants of 5204 Logan Drive in lawful possession of our house? The evidence suggests the answer is no. (More on the law of wrongful foreclosure in an upcoming post.)

Let me make a few quick points here:

* We were behind on our monthly payments, but we had received one extension from Chase Mortgage.

* I'm not an expert on this, but several knowledgeable individuals have told us that when you have considerable equity in a home (as we did) you often are given more than one extension to get things back on track.

* I'm not sure what warning letters Carol might have received from Chase during the last six months or so we were in the house, but I don't think she received any. Even so, with her husband in jail and Rob Riley's court documents threatening to have her arrested, her hands were tied. In a lot of ways, my incarceration helped cost us our home because we had no way to address the looming foreclosure--even though I don't think Carol had much advance warning anyway.

* We were behind on our payments, but that does not necessarily mean a foreclosure is lawful. The key point of wrongful foreclosure, under Alabama law, is this: If a foreclosure is conducted for an ulterior reason, anything other than to collect the debt owed on the mortgage, it is unlawful--and there can be serious consequences for the individuals who helped the homeowners wrongfully lose their house.

What were the likely ulterior motives in our foreclosure? I can think of two right off the bat:

(1) Any move is challenging, but to move because of a foreclosure--especially when one party has been in jail, and you didn't even have the full 30 days to fight it--probably is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences an adult can experience. It throws the homeowners' lives into off-the-charts upheaval and forces you to focus on the bare essentials of life--like shelter. A side activity, like blogging, becomes out of the question. And in fact, my blog went away for several months after we were forced out of our home. Was that part of the plan behind the foreclosure, to bring Legal Schnauzer to a close?

(2) Foreclosure moves, I suspect, tend to be done in a haphazard manner. Ours certainly was. We had almost no time to plan it, and for a variety of reasons, it was done in two or three parts--all the while, the company that supposedly bought our house at auction was threatening to shut off our utilities. In fact, they did shut off our water one day, which is against the law in Alabama--and most other states.

Because of the uber stressful nature of our move, there were several days where part of our belongings had been removed from the house, but quite a bit of our stuff remained--with neither Carol nor me around to help oversee things.

In fact, we still don't have almost one full room of our belongings. And what room was that? You might recall from our previous post that we had turned one room of our house into the nerve center for this blog--we called it the Legal Schnauzer Anti-Corruption Research Center. Almost everything from that room still is missing, and we have no idea what happened to it.

We've been told the purchasing company, Spartan Value Investors, placed the items in a Birmingham storage facility. But we have no idea if that is true. The same company told us they would pay $2,000 of our moving expenses if we got out by a certain date. We got out by that date, and we've never seen a dime from the company.

What happened during those days that possessions remained in our house while we were not around? We're not sure, but with law-enforcement obviously playing a role in the Riley/Duke scheme, it would have been easy for a "professional" to pick a lock, allowing any number of people to enter our home and go through research material I had collected for this blog.

That points to an ugly plan behind the foreclosure on our home. And as we will show shortly, such a plan is wildly unlawful.


Anonymous said...

What an awful experience! I can only imagine what it must have been like to go through that.

Anonymous said...

I went through a foreclosure, and it was horrible. Still have nightmares about the possibility of sheriff's deputies coming and moving all of my stuff out into the street.

Anonymous said...

Chase held your mortgage? I would say that adds to the likelihood that something fishy went on.

Anonymous said...

How would one prove that a mortgage was done with an ulterior motive?

legalschnauzer said...

That's an excellent question, @12:06. It would have to be done, more than likely, via discovery. And that would not be easy, given the power of financial institutions to hire well-compensated lawyers who can "shuck and jive" their way through the fact-gathering process. Those types of lawyers are paid to hide information, not turn it over--and I imagine it's the rare judge who would hold them accountable for withholding discovery.

In our case, you have several factors that point to something foul:

(1) Apparent lack of notice that the foreclosure was about to happen, beyond the standard 30-day notice;

(2) No real effort to work out an alternative plan before dropping the bomb on us;

(3) The foreclosure notice comes while I'm in jail, at the hands of conservative legal/political figures;

(4) The fact they had already made one effort to get Carol and me out of the house, via kidnapping, but they failed to get her before the story could start making national news.

The big factor: Because I was in jail, we had no real opportunity to try to address the problem. It's darned near impossible for a wife to handle such a huge matter while her husband is unlawfully stuck in the "Shelby Sheraton."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick reply, LS. Obviously I meant to say "foreclosure" and not "mortgage."

Anonymous said...

You sunk 23-24 years worth of equity into a house and then lost it? Whew, that's tough.

Anonymous said...

Those folks at Spartan Value Investors sound like real class acts.

Anonymous said...

I would bet good money if any of the "wall street" banks had anything to do with your mortgage there could be problems with the paper work. You said you were making payments to Chase but were they the owner of your mortgage and your note? Many time the company that is accepting the payment is only a servicer of the loan. They collect the payment and then passes on the money to the real owners of the note which is sometime a trust. These mortgage notes were combined into mortgage backed securities that were then sold to investors. The problem have come up in the way the mortgage notes were sold and then assigned into the trust. In my view the mortgage note is cover under UCC code like a check in many ways. I write you a check, you endorsed it on the back and then give it to others as payment or deposit. The problems have been when someone like Chase takes you to court for foreclosure but then if questioned can not prove they were the party that is due payment. Just because you did not make a payment to one party that does not give another party the right to make a crime against you. Some call this a standing issue in court, standing is a legal term meaning that one has to have proof to show the court that they have suffer injuries because of your actions or a default. Foreclosure fraud will go down in history as the biggest crime of all time. In the years to come we are going to have major title problems with these property due to several investors making claims all on the same mortgage notes. Don't trust wall street to tell the truth. You as a homeowner should demand that all the correct paper work comes to light. Many times the real owners would love to rework your loan, it is a better deal that they are getting from the services who are pushing the forclosures due to the fees they pocket. A wall street mortgage servicer is no friend to the courts, homeowner or the real owner of your loan. You have to shop around because most lawyers don't know anything about any of this. Which is so:-( I could help but they want to jail me also, it seems I'm ant bona-fide or something to that effect. A sad day when the truth is covered up.

legalschnauzer said...

You ask a good question, @7:06, and I'm not sure about the answer. Here is what I know: We took out our original mortgage in 1990, with a company called Troy & Nichols. Somewhere in the 1990s we refinanced with Troy & Nichols. At some point, I don't remember when, we got notice that we were getting a new payment book and needed to send our mortgage checks to Chase. I've seen in the press that Chase Manhattan bought Troy & Nichols from First Gibralter Mortgage Holdings. Troy & Nichols is described in a NY Times article about the deal as a "residential mortgage servicer." (http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/16/business/company-news-chase-agrees-to-buy-first-gibraltar-unit.html)

Bottom line: I'm not sure we've ever known who actually "owned" our mortgage. Do you know of a good lawyer who might be able and willing to help? You are welcome to contact me via my private e-mail at rshuler3156@gmail.com.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

You say Spartan Value Investors shut off your utilities? Don't they know that's illegal?

The title of the company suggests they flip houses for the benefit of a group of investors. I would like to know who those investors are.

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @8:21, Spartan had our water shut off. They also had the power put in their name--and Alabama Power did it without even consulting us or notifying us. Our power never was shut off, and my wife had several forceful conversations with the power company that resulted in the service being put back in our name. Carol used to work at Alabama Power, so she knew what they were doing was BS. It seems she convinced them that their actions were not such a good idea.

Birmingham Water Works, however, did shut off our water.

And yes, it would be interesting to know the identity of their investors. Based on my experience with Spartan, I would say the whole company is a bunch of shysters and thugs. I would never trust a word anyone with that company might say. Of course, what do you expect from a bunch of house flippers?

legalschnauzer said...

I'm going to write a followup post, probably for Thursday, with more about the foreclosure. Will include a copy of the foreclosure deed.

e.a.f. said...

The foreclosure may have been as simple as sending a message to any one who "took on" the rich and powerful in Alabama: we will have you arrested. we will have your thrown in jail. we will take your home from you.
With messages like that, few if any would do what you have done. Not many people would have risked as much as you and Carol have. Thank you for the work you do.

legalschnauzer said...

I think you are on target, e.a.f. If so, that goes to the improper motive that is at the heart of wrongful-foreclosure law in Alabama. My research indicates many states have similar provisions in the law. The mortgage on your home is not meant to be used for intimidation, harassment, terrorism, and the like.