We're not talking about an in-your-face "street crime" sort of stealing. This is what we'll call a civil form of thievery, conducted in the white-collar environment. The result is the same as a street stick-up: A certain sum of money belonged to my wife, Carol, and me -- and Liberty Duke took it, apparently with the help of several banking/legal types.
All of this suggests two defamation lawsuits filed against me in fall 2013 -- one by Rob Riley, the other by Luther Strange minion and mistress Jessica Medeiros Garrison -- are connected to a my five-month stay in the "Shelby County Sheraton" (jail) and the foreclosure on our home of 25 years in Birmingham.
The civil theft involves surplus proceeds from what we believe was a wrongful foreclosure on our home in Alabama, on April 29, 2014. That's the event that caused us to wind up in Springfield, Missouri, where the Greene County Sheriff conducted an unlawful eviction at our apartment, with an assault rifle pointed at my forehead and a deputy breaking Carol's left arm so severely that it required trauma surgery for repair.
How could someone essentially steal funds from a foreclosure and place them with Liberty Duke, who was a co-plaintiff in the Rob Riley lawsuit and seemingly had nothing to do with the action on our home? That takes some explaining, but the key is that our foreclosure was outside the norm -- probably more outside the norm than even we realize.
In a standard foreclosure, the mortgage holder -- a financial institution of some sort -- buys the house, and the purchase price equals the outstanding debt on the house. In our research, we've found a number of articles on the Web quoting a mortgage veteran saying something like this: "I've been in the business for 35 years, and I've never seen a foreclosed property sell for more than the outstanding debt, and I've only seen a handful sold to someone other than the bank." (The price can be for less than the outstanding debt, which creates an unpleasant set of problems for the homeowner, but that didn't apply to us, so we will leave those issues off the table.)
Back to the thoughts of our imaginary mortgage professional, who would have had quite the experience at our foreclosure. The buyer was not the bank, Chase Mortgage; it was a house-flipping outfit, with roots in Tuscaloosa and an office on Birmingham's Southside, called Spartan Value Investors. (Roughly two weeks after we were out of the house, Spartan sold it to another house-flipping outfit, JAG Investment Strategies. JAG obtained a loan from Nowlin and Associates of Birmingham and apparently used that to remodel the house and get it on the market pronto, where a couple named Preston and Angela Crider bought it.)
Here's how things took a left turn with our foreclosure: In the days leading to the sale on the Shelby County Courthouse steps, we contacted Robert Wermuth, of the Huntsville law firm Stephens Millirons, which was ramrodding the proceedings. We wanted to know the outstanding debt on the property, and Wermuth sent us a document stating it was roughly $66,000. That includes a bunch of "fees" that mortgage holders and their lawyers love to tack onto such documents, so the real balance probably was somewhere in the $55,000 to $60,000 range. Regardless, we were having to deal with the higher figure. If we had been able to come up with $66,000, we would still be in our house.
We're not sure what happened on the day of the sale, but the property wound up selling for $74,359, which is more than $8,000 over the outstanding debt. (See foreclosure deed at the end of this post.) Our house was in a fairly desirable area, and it was in pretty good shape considering the financial duress we had been under for years, due to loss of our jobs at UAB and Infinity Insurance, respectively. Did two or more parties get into a bidding war, driving up the price? Did some other unusual circumstance cause a sale unlike any our imaginary mortgage pro above had ever seen?
|CEO Clayton Mobley, at Spartan Value Investors'|
HQ on Birmingham's Southside
This much is not a mystery: The surplus funds derived from the sale, somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000, represented our remaining equity in the property. And by law, they belonged to us.
So, how did they wind up going to Liberty Duke, and how did that violate Alabama law? We will address those questions in an upcoming post.
(To be continued)